Posts Tagged 'media'

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

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.

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.

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.

Bringing “The Laramie Project” to Coastal Carolina University

By Stephen Hudson-Mairet

The Laramie Project at Coastal Carolina University. Photo courtesy Stephen Hudson-Mairet

The Laramie Project at Coastal Carolina University. Photo: courtesy Stephen Hudson-Mairet.

I have just completed a one-week residency at Coastal Carolina University, where I created scenic designs for “The Laramie Project.”  It has been an interesting process to design a show a little over a year after we produced the same show on Marquette’s campus. For those of you who saw the Marquette version, I thought I would share a bit about the process on this production.

The Coastal design was greatly influenced by two elements. The first was the space itself. The Wheelwright auditorium on the Coastal Carolina campus is vast—a large proscenium that is fairly deep. When I visited in October, I was struck by the openness—a quality I remember from my days in the great plains of Kansas. This is big sky country I wanted to represent, and this space would allow for that. At the same time,  I wanted to maintain the opportunity for intimacy between the audience and the performers, as the play consists of a series of monologues. I ended up with a large open rake that could be filled with furniture and performers that was backed by a large projection screen. The play is book-ended by a large projection of the sky in the day time at the beginning, and the night-time starry sky at the end.

My second influence was the play itself. On re-reading “The Laramie Project this fall, I was struck by how this is really a play about a community, and the impact this event had on that community. It is centered around the heinous crime committed on Matthew Shepard, but the play illustrates the impact, reaction and tenor of the community in many ways.  I sought to represent the community in abstract through the scenic design. I did this by dividing the three acts into scenic movements—the first act has large steel frames that fly just in front of the projection screen— these frames fly in and out and represent the multitude of voices and personal lenses that the story is told through.  The second act brings in a barrage of video panels that attack the audience with news media, much like the town of Laramie experienced.  The fact that CCU had a large supply of surplus flat panel video screens was a big plus. The third act clears the visual field to bring us toward resolution.

I am proud to have been involved in this important production twice in the past year—once as the department chair and main cheerleader, and as the scenic designer of this latest project.  “The Laramie Project is a show that has the capability to make great change in the world. Had Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project not undertaken this venture, the story of Matthew Shepard may have gone the way of many a media story—hot today, gone tomorrow. The fact that audiences continue to hear of Matthew’s story, and hopefully commit to make a change in their world accordingly, is heartening. It is one of the reasons we have a Theatre and Social Justice commitment at Marquette—to work with our audiences to use theatre to focus on issues of injustice in the world in order to actively make our communities better.

Stephen Hudson-Mairet is an artistic assistant professor, artistic director and chair of Performing and Media Arts at Marquette University. The Laramie Project opens on Thursday in the Wheelwright auditorium on the Coastal Carolina University campus in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

A Front Row Seat for New York Fashion Week

By Crystal Schreiner 

Chris Benz showcasing his next line at the Lincoln Center during NY Fashion Week. Photo: Crystal Schreiner.

Chris Benz showcasing his next line at the Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Crystal Schreiner.

My last semester of my senior year has finally arrived. I’m one class short of my actual degree in advertising and trying to juggle school while managing my roller-coaster life outside of the classroom. Between running a lucrative start-up business called GoGeddit.com with other Marquette alumni, freelancing to build my portfolio and working in Marquette’s Student Media Department, it’s been crazy.

It’s been sleepless. It’s been a challenge. But it has also led to amazing opportunities.

Growing up next to a beautiful sheep farm in a small town called Athens, Wisconsin, with a mere 1,000 people and no stoplights never stopped me from trying for my goal in life to be big, bold and over-the-top. I’ve always had a dreamy image in my head when trying to imagine what gigantic cities were like, and especially when picturing what the nation’s competitive capital, NYC, was like. I was so intrigued at the thought of skyscrapers and city lights painting the sky. And I now know that with hard work and persistence, anyone can find his or her way to New York if so desired.

The rule of the game is as follows: first, find a passion. Then live it, breath it, and carry it with you everywhere you go. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself standing in the middle of Times Square with a little tear of happiness in your eye.

I’ll never forget that moment.

What is this passion of mine? Fashion photography. Continue reading ‘A Front Row Seat for New York Fashion Week’

Journalism and Ethics in India

By Steve Byers

I recently spent a couple of weeks teaching a Marquette University Diederich College of Communication-sponsored journalism workshop in Ahmadabad, India, so I was struck by this story from Bloomberg View concerning journalism at the two top —and growing —print newspapers in India. Together they sell more than five million newspapers a day.

Basically, the story attacks the journalism of the two, the Times of India and the Hindu, finding it lacking in much of the basic integrity as well as professionalism seen in journalism around the world.  I talked with executives from the Times of India, and both in informal and formal speeches they echoed some of the concerns about how journalism is practiced in their country.

Further, Father Vincent Braganza, head of St. Xavier’s College, which promoted the workshop we taught, was quite open in his disappointment concerning journalism in India, which he said was shallow, lacking in ethics and rife with errors — all elements of the Bloomberg story.

My view after reading the Indian papers for two weeks, is that the criticism is quite true. The Times of India would be considered sensationalist by American standards. Word choice is atrocious, and errors are common. Frankly, the Hindu is dull.

Father Braganza’s solution is the teaching of journalism, which is rare in that country. Only a handful of journalism programs exist, he said, with most journalists trained in English departments. Father Braganza says that means they lack grounding in ethics and philosophy. That would explain the shortcomings seen in the Bloomberg piece. Despite growing sales, that lack of professionalism bodes ill for India’s future.

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


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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