The Unpopular Are Starting To Matter

This week I looked at the transition from the hit driven model of legacy media to the aggregation of niche markets online. Traditionally, business have been business and needed to make money to exist, this meant that physical stores, whether they were book stores, film stores, music stores, etc. needed to pick and choose the products they sold in order to fit it within the physical limitation of the store. Generally stores stuck to the top 20% of their particular market. Now that the internet, the cloud and networking is becoming more prominent, online stores are thriving. How? A combination of essentially no physical space limitations, global access and the ability to sell whatever anyone wants. If your store holds practically anything and almost anyone can buy from you, your store will provide not only the top 20% of the market content but all the other things that consumers really want because you can’t get it elsewhere. This phenomenon of “the other things” being sold at great abundance and success is known as The long tail effect.

So Many Books, So Little Access Limitations

An excellent example of niche markets rising in popularity can be seen in self publishing books. As Rita Rosenkranz said, “because of the stigma of self-publishing very good stuff was locked out by mainstream publishers.” this meant that business having to pick and choose what will sell and what won’t meant that not well known books were ignored and the popular books became more popular. This is no longer the case. Online stores such as Amazon have allowed authors to publish their own books for next to no cost so anyone can publish their own works and all these works are available to buy because there is no space restriction. In one year sales have risen dramatically due to consumers buying cheap, self published books and discovering new interests and new authors.

Globalizing Media Industries

The long tail effect doesn’t just benefit online companies, it’s great for consumers as well. Personally, I like watching Japanese Anime and Dramas, I listen to a lot of foreign and independent music and watch a lot of independent films, so an industry market where only ‘the hits’ are available to buy would be distressing. Fortunately, The internet is global and not subject to national limitations as well as experiencing the long tail effect. Consumers such as myself are able to get the content we want that isn’t normally available.

The cost of products is heavily influenced by supply and demand, because digital media can be mass produced and distributed online without physical materials it can be sold very cheaply especially when compared to niche products that a traditional store may hold a very limited number of copies in stock.

The Battle Of The Old And The Online

There is some resistance from traditional business’ in the media industry against online markets that stems from the idea that if a product can be copied infinitely it is practically worthless. There are ways around this though, making products more unique, a necessity or (Controversially) incomplete, such as early release video games and software. Hopefully as online stores report increasing sales, the resistance will lessen and consumers will have more freedom to access the content we want  with relative ease for the producers.

 

 

Featured image: http://online-social-networking.com/images/the-long-tail.gif

The Day The Internet Came

This week I went back to my father to ask him about the internet and his thoughts on it. Just like last time I asked him some questions in a conversational interview type manner and will be noting anything interesting or specific I took note of.

What Was Said

When asking my dad about how many internet accessed devices there were in the house he wasn’t sure outside of what he owned personally, my sister and I have game devices but he wasn’t aware to what extent they used internet because I handled it myself. On the other hand, he knew everything about the data plan because he organised that himself although I was the one who pressured him to get a decent plan.

Even though my dad, being the head of the house, was in charge of the data plan, when I asked him about the national broadband network, he had no idea if we were eligible. I expected that kind of response as we live quite far out of town. With some research I found that there are plans to install the NBN in the nearby town but the plans end far from where I live.

Considering we won’t be getting the NBN any time soon, we had to make predictions on how it would have changed our day to day lives. I asked how things have changed since internet came around till now to get an idea of the sort of trajectory our increasingly online lifestyle is taking us. My dad mentioned that government services and banking is becoming an increasingly online scene and how it’s frustrating for people like us who live in a place with minimal internet access to not be able to access the sites we need to in order to lodge government forms or do banking (Especially since our local bank branch closed recently).

My dad and I had a fairly in depth discussion on what we expect the future of homes with internet access becoming more prominent would be and what we expect. We both expect homes to be more of an involved place where “things happen”. Before the internet the home was mostly a place to live and return to after work but now a large number of people work from home. The need to go out to shop and run errands is decreasing as online shopping is becoming more dynamic. It has come to the point where you can order groceries online and have them delivered, never needing to leave the house at all. Research shows that 76% of internet users shop online for everything from clothes and accessories to different forms of media. Even socialising is becoming an online phenomena. Social media and online chatting has allowed people to form relationships and keep them well and truly alive without ever having to meet the other party.

It sounds bleak but it depends on how you view this shift in behaviour. Sure we’re not physically seeing friends as much when we can speak to them online whenever we need with relative ease but the same ‘ease’ that has made physical relationships redundant allows for more diverse relationships both in number and type. All my family members have friends who live out of state or even country that we regularly talk to. We may not be leaving the home to go shopping as often but it’s because the world is at our fingertips, we can order anything from anywhere around the world and have it delivered right to our door.

The Good, The Bad and The Forward Thinking

The internet has clearly changed our views of time and space, it’s changed the family dynamic and the role of the home we live in but the main point is that it’s change, not for better or worse but in a direction that we’ve never been in before. Our best course of action is to adapt and learn how to live with this new online lifestyle.

Become Liquid, Move With The Flow of Information

Prior to today’s information age, power resided in the people who provided and owned physical labour but in this societies network paradigm there has been a shift from production based on physical labour to one based on information, as Mitew put it, “When production is based on information, information is power”. In response to this I became interested in the information that liquid labour handles and why liquid labour must be the way it is to handle information production.

Taking It Home

As of June 2013, 14.24 million Australians had internet access within their homes but more importantly, 7.5 million Australians accessed the internet via their mobile devices. This is important because it stresses the point that internet access and information production is becoming increasingly more dynamic, time and physical location are becoming less of a boundary. Liquid labour has a characteristic of being similarly dynamic in order to match this flow of information. For example, by the same June of 2013 5.64 million Australian workers used the internet to work away from the office.

Effectively Not Central

With knowledge and information being such an enormous product to manage, liquid labour relies on a decentralised control structure in order to process information effectively. This contrasts with the standard hierarchal control structure used to handle large scale production in physical labour based business. A decentralised control structure allows the individual workers to be more active in the decision making process, “A manager often can make a decision without having to wait for it to go up a chain of command, allowing the organization to react quickly to situations” (Joseph, C). In the information processing business, the ability to keep up with information flows is imperative

Bleeding Our Locations

As effective and practical as liquid labour appears to be, especially towards today’s information age, it’s workers tend to suffer social issues such as presence bleed. “Presence bleed explains the familiar experience whereby the location and time of work become secondary considerations faced with a ‘to do’ list that seems forever out of control” (Gregg, M). As Gregg describes presence bleed is when work permeates (or invades) personal life due to the blurring of  ‘where’ work is appropriate as liquid labour transcends any office space. As the world transitions away from physical labour based industries to focus on information processing and the handling of immaterial product which was unseen till recently we are finding a need to adapt and learn how to manage work around dynamic information flows. As the industry develops it is important that we not lose sight of basic principles such as a distinction between work time and down time and the importance of accurately processing online knowledge.

We Are The Network

From the beginning of this information age, networks of communication have wormed their way into the regular workings of society. Fifty years ago, telephonic technology would connect some people within the network but not much more than that. Today, networks have permeated through cultures, communities and industries to the point that in 2012 fifty five percent of Americans primarily accessed the internet from their mobile device.

Mostly Online

At the end of 2013, it was believed that 2.8 billion people where ‘online’ (accessed the internet regularly). Over a third of the worlds population is accessing this global network. with such a large proportion contributing to this network it’s not far-fetched to see that the internet has not only been shaped by us but is now conversely, having an effect on us. This paradigmatic shift in society from scattered communities to a global network, as Manuel Castells describes, has many consequences such as, Networks having no boundaries means that they are a global phenomenon that transcends national differences, in doing so  the internet allows for someone to communicate with, essentially, the world. This makes the world a seemingly smaller place where social injustices become an issue of all people and not just their country of origin. Networked organisation having the capability to outperform any other organisation through communication speed and simple information aggregation. Bureaucracy becomes almost instantaneous when information con be extracted and sent to as many people as possible with no time delay. The consequences of the network paradigm continue but I’ll move on. If you’re interested in reading more refer to, “Power does not reside in institutions, not even the state or large corporations.It is located in the networks that structure society . . .” (Manuel Castells, 2004) or for a simpler reading, here.

What This Means To Us

It has come to a point where one doesn’t even have to ‘be online’ to witness implications of the network paradigm. The economy for example, affects multiple facets of our lives and it’s documented and powered almost entirely online. Pop culture is cultivated so heavily online now that popular trends are developed and shared daily from the web. Information aggregation allows news to be up to date almost all the time and the now integration of crowd sourcing information allows for far greater research power than ever before seen.

How Youtube Works

Much like any other medium such as, television, film, music, etc. Youtube relies heavily on measuring the sizes of its audiences to determine the popularity and activity of a piece of media. On the other hand, Youtube doesn’t have box office or album sales to look at and as an internet based medium, it’s prone to hacking and spamming. In order to associate this, Youtube has a fine tuned approach to counting the ‘views’ of a video and deciding how to allocate monetised advertisements.

The Counting of Views

Colloquially the popularity of a video on Youtube.com is often determined by it’s views (usually in context of a time frame). But what exactly does Youtube count as a view? As far as I can determine, it’s any playback of a video from Youtube.com (That is not embedded with an autoplay function). This means that a video can be watched a hundred times from the same source and be counted as a hundred views. At roughly three hundred views within a short period of time, Youtubes algorithm will freeze the view counter till it can ensure that there isn’t any foul play at work, the importance of this will become evident later in this post.

See this video for further information on how views are counted by Youtube.

As explained in this video, view counts from around this world are accumulated and are used to determine certain values of a video, this is why fraudulent views are a hazard.

The Issue

People who make Youtube videos for a living are known as Youtubers. These Youtubers make their money through a technical system involving CPM (cost per thousand) and minutes watched per video.

Cost per thousand is the amount a youtuber is paid per thousand views of a video (not including Youtube and any third party cuts), the average being roughly $7.60. This means if a Youtuber has a CPM of $5 and uploads a video with two thousand views, that video will generate $10 for the relevant parties involved. The problem with this system is that the amount of CPM a Youtuber is allocated depends on their videos’ minutes watched. Youtube being such a diverse community of content creators means that not all video are created equally, by this I mean that someone who uploads regular ten minute long videos daily, will inherently get more minutes watched than someone who uploads a two minute video weekly regardless of quality and effort put into the content.

As made clear by the Youtuber in this video, independent content creators who are incapable of producing large amounts of quality content in their field are left behind by this system.

Putting The You In Youtube

Aside from campaigning for Youtube to adjust their system for this flaw, how else can we support our favourite Youtubers?
The minutes watched from a video can carry over from one video to another via a link, so, in order to maximise minutes watched, we can follow links to other videos within the original and share videos we like to encourage more views.
Apps that block ads prevent youtubers from counting your view as monetised so for the sake of supporting the creators of content you are viewing for free, don’t use adblock on Youtube.

I would love to hear of any ideas on how this system can be improved or even general feedback on my posts via twitter @RalphiePeerless or by leaving a comment on this post.

It All Connects

Recently, modern communication was described to me as a nervous system. In the same way a nervous system can carry a message from one body part to another, modern communication is capable of transmitting information across vast geographical distances, between two people, almost instantaneously.

Morse code, a revolutionary development that changed the face of communication forever

Previously it would take a multitude of time and resources to send a ‘message’ across the world but following the invention of telegraph lines the same message can be transmitted almost immediately. Suddenly, the world didn’t feel so small.

The Information Age

These developments in technology  were completely unforeseen, especially, the concept of transferring information from a source, digitally, to a receiver. This gave way to what’s considered the beginning of ‘The Information Age’. I like to imagine the development of these information technologies from the crude wired processes to a modern efficient network so closely intertwined with the world as an evolution from a wooden puppet controlled one to one with strings to a living breathing creature where all is connected by a nervous system of information highways and global trade.

Morse Code Vs Twitter

Something that struck me as interesting was comparing aspects of Morse code transmission and today’s twitter. The cost of transmitting a Morse code message forced people to keep their messages to a minimum, twitter has a self imposed 140 character limit which was inspired by the character limit of text messaging which was due to cost and technology limitations of early mobile phones. Morse code machines allowed weather to aggregate information to broadcast but twitter aggregates the information from users to users, cutting out the weather forecasters. Morse code was an emergency or special occasion use only but twitter is designed to be used anywhere, any-time, by anyone.

Information networking certainly has come a long way.

Media These Days…

This week I was tasked with talking to someone older than me about their early experiences of television, Unfortunately, my mother lived in a part of Asia that did not have television till recently and so I had to primarily interview my father.

It was a luxury

Ray (My dad): “As a kid I watched cartoons, like the older cartoons, Tom and Jerry. It was a thing we only watched in the evening, sometimes during the weekend we’d watch it in the morning.”

Talking to my dad, he explained how television was a small luxury that he could only experience sometimes. He specifically mentioned that today you can turn on your tv and have it on all day and there’d be no issues, ” It’s not like it is today where you can turn the tv on and watch it all day”, but when he was a child there wouldn’t be enough programming to watch all day and tv was not allowed on when guests were over, ” When guests were over TV stayed off there was only one in the lounge room.”

The Shows He Watched

My dad specifically mentioned classic Australian shows such as Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and The Sullivans but also Tom and Jerry.

“I remember watching Skippy the bush kangaroo. I watched tv with my sister just after dinner for a bit.”

Classic Australian children’s program, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
An Australian drama series, The Sullivans
Early Tom and Jerry

 

It’s Different Now

My dad also mentioned that “We (him and his sister) couldn’t watch anything risque”. But what’s considered acceptable on tv has changed, it’s simultaneously become more politically correct but more ‘risque’. In Australia, between the hours of 9:30pm and 5am, AV15+ and MA15+ programs and films can be shown, these ratings are given for excessive violence and sex scenes.

Tv appears to have evolved to a more, everyday, household appliance that’s passively integrated into our lives. This way we receive news faster and faster streams of entertainment but we’re also forced to wonder what social implications modern tv has.