Posts Tagged 'digital'

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.

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.

Trading in My Purse for a Camera Bag: Lessons in Photography

By Carole Burns

The recent Platypus Workshop sponsored by the Diederich College of Communication taught me many things about video editing.  The piece that stuck with me, however, was something I had to learn on my own—I needed more experience with my equipment. My good friends Dan Johnson and Jennifer Janviere make beautiful pictures. They see stories in faces of individuals walking down the street or sitting in a doorway. I see similar stories in landscapes and nature. The big difference between Dan, Jen and me is the fact that their pictures could fill multiple art gallery walls. Mine are more suited for the external hard drive I’ve purchased.

Experience and knowledge can go hand in hand with photography. Of course, I know that just using my camera more will not improve the composition, it will assist me in knowing what aperture and shutter speed settings I should be using. Continue reading ‘Trading in My Purse for a Camera Bag: Lessons in Photography’

Old and New Media

By Steve Byers

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that we need to change our thinking about media— let’s quit talking about “old media” and “new media” because it’s just “media.” A fascinating report from the public relations field really strikes home how journalists are both relying on digital media and using it for publishing purposes, whether they are working in a print field or now.

Here are a couple of points from the report, which you should read in depth, although there is a nice summary at Crisis Comm, a thoughtful emergency management blog:

−Journalists are leaning on social media for obtaining news. The figures are startling, 47 percent of journalists get new from Twitter and 35 percent from Facebook.  I use “startling” only in the sense that we haven’t thought about this because I find myself using social media for much of my news. I do prefer blogs rather than Twitter or Facebook only because I’m a news geek who likes news in depth.

− The study reports that journalists say online channels for their news content are more important than print. Many print publications are monitoring digital postings and using their number as part of evaluation processes. Both Twitter (54 percent of journalists use it to disseminate news) and blogs (54 percent) are very popular.

Finally, a comment unrelated to the study. The growth of digital really came home to me − a journalist whose career was mostly in print with some radio/TV−when I found myself quoting an “emergency management” blog. First, I discovered it totally because of digital media. Second, I found myself valuing the information more than its source − in other words, I had total trust in the news value of information that was created for the public relations industry.

The old barriers have totally gone, at least for me.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. Read his blog from the college’s backpack journalism workshop in Cagli, Italy this summer at

Creating Models for Paid Online News Content

By Steve Byers

The most interesting part of a nifty chart that offers to the content of America’s six fairly large newspapers to have erected (or ready to erect) pay walls is the case of the smallest paper listed, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The paper of roughly 171,000 subscribers never went free online but offers the online version free to all print subscribers. It claims to have held its circulation with readers continuing to buy the print edition.

There are more than six American newspapers with paywalls – if you count those like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with part of its content walled off (‘Packers Plus’ in the JS‘s case; it’s very successful).

As you would expect, models of the marketing plans range all over the place with differences from price ($1.48 to $5 a week) to free for print subscribers (5 of 6) to what’s free and what’s behind the wall. I think we’re going to see a real rush of struggling content providers moving to some form of pay wall, despite the naysayers out there.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication.

Interactive Technology in the New Student Lounge

By Chris Whitman

New Student Lounge in Johnston Hall

New student lounge in Johnston Hall, pictured here in the final phase of construction. October 2010.

I recently sat down with Mr. Jon Pray, Vice Provost of Educational Technology at Marquette to discuss the technology aspects of the upcoming student lounge and how it will impact students.

The new student lounge, currently under construction in Johnston Hall will feature a video wall of LCD displays as well as two more stand-alone displays. This new student lounge will bring a much needed collaborative space for multimedia evaluation and group work. Continue reading ‘Interactive Technology in the New Student Lounge’

Six Must-Know Online Resources for Journalists

Posted by the Diederich College of Communication

It’s no longer enough to just be a great writer; today’s well-prepared journalist must be well-versed (if not fluent) in using social media and emerging multimedia technology to gather sources and get the story out to the public. Luckily, there are some helpful resources designed to help navigate the new frontier of journalism in the digital age. Below are six must-know websites for anyone working in the profession.

According to the site description, is a place “where journalism and technology meet.” The site provides information about the tools that shape digital journalism, including examples and tutorials of both emerging and established technology.

Society for Professional Journalists: List of Influential Journalists to Follow on Twitter
SPJ has compiled an ever-expanding Twitter list of people offering insight into the field of journalism. A glimpse into what others in the profession are doing, saying, writing and following.

AP Style Guide Update
Long considered the journalist’s bible, the AP Style Guide now includes information about incorporating social media and online terminology into writing and reporting. There are also tips for maximizing social media use as a news gathering tool and how to verify the authenticity of online sources. The style guide has its own Twitter feed for journalists to ask questions and post comments.

Reporters’ Guide to Multimedia Proficiency
Great information compiled by journalist, web developer and educator Mindy McAdams (University of Florida) about the use of social media and multimedia technology for journalism in the digital age. The guide has useful information on podcasts, blogging, RSS, basic video editing, storytelling and more. Available as a PDF download.

McAdams is also author of the Journalists’ Toolkit, another terrific resource for aspiring and veteran journalists alike.

According to its site description, is a top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture. Mashable reports breaking web news, analyzes online trends, reviews new websites and services, and offers social media resources and guides.

The site provides tips, news and commentary about the future of media, social media, mobile trends, innovation in media, online journalism and digital storytelling. examines how digital technology transforms the media.

Know of any sites not mentioned here? This list represents just a small fraction of the online resources available to journalists, so drop us a line to know about your favorite websites for journalism, technology, social media trends and news.

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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