Things Have Been Found

What I’m thinking about from time to time

Media referenced in my paper on Body and the Mediated Voice

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Here are some of the songs I talk about in my paper for Digital Theory from Spring 2009, about Body and Mediated voice.   Note that in the paper I address specifically the recorded songs themselves and, for the most part, ignore the performances outside of the voice.


The Chipmunks- “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”


Alvino Rey and ‘Stringy,’ the Singing Steel Guitar


Kraftwerk- “Autobahn”


Laurie Anderson- “O Superman (For Massanet)”


DJ Shadow- “Midnight in a Perfect World”


T-Pain- “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)”


Kanye West- “Say You Will”


Kanye West- “Pinocchio Story”

Written by Tyler Baber

May 15, 2009 at 4:51 am

Getting the Network We Need

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Lawrence Lessig’s talk from March on Getting the Network we need, which synthesizes basically most of the ideas covered in my courses this semester.

Written by Tyler Baber

May 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Wait Wait… Don’t Sell Me!*

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There was an op-ed from Author’s Guild president (and frequent NPR quiz show annoyance) Roy Blount Jr. in today’s NY Times about how authors and publishers should be getting audio-book rights from the Kindle’s text-to-audio feature. 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/opinion/25blount.html

I think this is an interesting example of media content producers trying to keep up with a market where money is increasingly more in new distribution models. Is a text-to-audio reader really an audio book? Should it be treated as such? This isn’t too different from the Writer’s strike back in Fall of ’07 over the rights and royalties for web broadcasts, or the complaints of publishers and authors surrounding Google Books, or even the general industry complaints about piracy. 

Some argue that the Author’s Guild’s complaint could apply to a teacher reading a book aloud to a classroom (in the same way downloading a torrent of an album or TV show is like making a cassette copy of a friend’s record or recording the show on your VCR). The editorial deals with this a little but there are still a lot of holes that will need to be filled in as old media and new media continue to collide

*For coming up with this headline, Paula Poundstone won Carl Kassel’s voice on the answering machine of one of our longtime readers!

Written by Tyler Baber

February 25, 2009 at 4:44 pm

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25 Articles about “25 Random Things About Me”

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From the nail-bitingly fearful to the stories about stories about 25 things about me…

  1.  The Dallas Morning News- Does Facebook Make Us More Honest?
  2. Slate- The 10 Things We Want to Know about “25 Random Things About Me”
  3. Charlotte Observer.com- Facebook fad… Just Too Much Information?
  4. WECT-TV 6, Wilmington, NC- Facebook’s 25 Random Things: handing out info to online predators
  5. Gawker.com- ’25 Random Things’ Lists are the Last Vestige of American Literacy
  6. KSFY, SD- New Facebook Trend Growing and Growing
  7. Escapist Magazine, NC- “Viral Gaming” Trend Hits Facebook
  8. Columbus Dispatch- Facebook Fad Gets Personal
  9. Chicago Tribune- A Direct Reply to ’25 Random Things’
  10. USA Today- Facebook Friends shar ’25 things’ with the World
  11. Dallas Morning News (yes, twice in one week)- Millions Reveal Themselves Online with ’25 Random Things’ 
  12. Washington Post- We Never Do Random Until We Have To
  13. MSNBC- 25 Random Things about Facebook
  14. Time- 25 Things I Didn’t Want to Know About You
  15. Stony Brook Independent- Facebook’s 25 Things to Tempting to Pass Up
  16. Sacramento Bee- Jerry Brown Lists ’25 Random Things About Me’ on Facebook
  17. Washington Post Blogs- 25 Random Things, Kitchen Style
  18. Examiner.com- 25 Drinks About Me: A Toast to 25 Random Things
  19. Examiner.com- 25 Things: The Modern Chain Letter
  20. Gawker.com- Have You Heard of this Facebook ’25 Things’ Thing?
  21. San Mateo County Times- I’m Turning the Tables on Facebook’s 25 Things Craze
  22. Honolulu Star Bulletin- My space, my ‘things’: In your face, Facebook!
  23. Queerty.com- 25 Random Things about being Gay on Facebook
  24. Star News Online- The Parrot: ’25 Random Things’: The Universal Response
  25. NBC Los Angeles- 25 Things Articles Arriving As Fast as 25 Things Lists

Written by Tyler Baber

February 6, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Google and the Future of the News

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Peter Osnos suggests a creative solution to the newspaper revenue problem: make Google pay for clickthroughs to news.

“The notion that “information wants to be free” is absurd when the delivery mechanism is making a fortune and the creators are getting what amounts to zilch,” he says. That’s the money quote; Google IS making a fortune by delivering content. The question remains, though: should Google be punished for succeeding where the newspapers fail? Google makes its fortune via its ad network, meanwhile ad revenues (online or print) are drying up for the newspapers and magazines. I can’t imagine a world where only SOME sites get money from click-throughs, it would have to be an all or nothing deal to be even remotely legal. Still, this is a creative idea. If it were a little more thought through, so that Google stood to benefit at all and wasn’t just being asked to throw money at content providers, maybe he would have something worth Google’s consideration.

Written by Tyler Baber

February 5, 2009 at 4:30 pm

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I can see clearly now the Cheney’s gone

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From Wired:

A new VP moves into the VP house, and Google gets higher quality satellite images of said house. Google claims there is no politicking going on here, they just now finally got a clear, non-pixelated aerial image of a giant swathe of property within one of the country’s major urban areas. 

Whether or not the devious and malfeasant Cheney ever personally said “hey don’t let Google Earth show pictures of my house!” is something I won’t expound on, but this could be a good example of flak/sourcing in action in the Google culture. The information, in this case pictures of the VP’s house, was always available and was never “news,” but someone somewhere decided that this information shouldn’t be fully available to the public. Google wants to make the information free but they couldn’t  bypass the source: the images were, presumably, given to Google as pixellated. Google isn’t creating information, just distributing it, so the information it distributes is necessarily subject to the flak and priorities of the source.

Written by Tyler Baber

January 27, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Google and the Propaganda Model

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Trying to formulate this into an abstract for the PCA/ACA conference…

———–

Google and the Propaganda Model

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman described the Propaganda Model media companies use to create message/ideology. According to Chomsky and Herman, and later elaborated by Robert McChesney, conglomeration, hypercommercialism, and concentration drive media producers/distributors and perpetuate, or create new, capitalist systems of oppression and message-making (1). As with many aspects of the new global economy, the definitions and applications of the propaganda model need to be expanded to understand how new digital media fit within this frame.

Google ranks among the most profitable corporations, and is the most highly valued media company, in the World (2). Like many of the most successful web applications, its business model differs greatly from traditional old media. The company doesn’t spend money on adverting itself outright and has created a program that targets ads to specific user inqueries in response to searches or e-mails, rather than seeking out specific demographics of users. Google’s unofficial motto is “Don’t be evil,” thereby asking users to hold it to a higher standard than other monopolistic corporations like Microsoft or News Corp. Given the revolutionary spirit behind the “Don’t be evil” motto, a spirit that is echoed by most user-generated content technologies and applications, it is all the more important to view Google critically and be aware of how the company operates within the propaganda model, often serving its corporate interests and perpetuating a political ideology on a global scale.

1st Filter: Size, Ownership, & Profit Orientation

Worldwide Search Engine Market Share, November 2008. From http://marketshare.hitslink.com/ Accessed 3 December 2008

Google dominates the global search market and took in over $16 billion USD in 2007 (Wikipedia). Google’s profitability has allowed it to buy out competitors like YouTube and DoubleClick, as well as create services to broaden its reach, like the Android mobile phone Operating system (to compete with Microsoft’s OS on the Blackberry and the iPhone OS). Since Google’s market is global in scale it is able to put more resources into influencing policy: they lobbied the US Federal Communications Commission to add an openness clause for mobile liscense attribution so that the Android OS might be more attractive to cellular providers (4). Google also settled a class action lawsuit brought against them by the Authors Guild and American Association of Publishers that allows Google Book Search to distribute digital copies of copyrighted books, putting complete control of what books are scanned and distributed in Google’s hands. Google actively pushes policy-makers and the legal system into accepting its agenda.Through its size and wealth Google is able to filter out competition.

2nd Filter:  Advertising

Google created its own advertising provider, AdSense, and purchased DoubleClick, a world leader in display (banner) advertising. AdSense uses an auction system so that, ostensibly, anyone can create an ad, determine what keywords cause the ad to show up, and thus target consumers according to their search queries. However, Google determines when ads show up so if the highest bidder didn’t bid enough a search might turn up no ad results (5). Popular keywords will attract more advertising capital, filtering out competitive voices, while unpopular keywords might see no ads appear despite ads existing. Thus Google actually filters out the competitive voices it deems unprofitable.

3rd Filter: Sourcing

Google’s business is managing the flow of information. On the Web we can create sites for whatever we want and information is not necessarily sourced from governments or corporations, as it often is under the old media propaganda model. In many ways the democratization of information through tools like Google’s pagerank system, which determines the hierarchy of information based on popularity, allows Google to escape national-based propaganda models and operate globally. While Google does censor search results in China, in most cases it creates a free market for information.

However, as Google Books Search shows, an English-language bias and American-imperialist tendency might be seen in how information is distributed via Google and its ancillary search engines. In the global political economy Google often creates a distinctly American voice and filters out nation-states and their local interests.

Some have argued that Google itself is serving as a source for newsmakers, becoming a corporate source itself.

4th Filter: Flak and the Enforcers

As Google has grown, so too have the voices of those critical of its practices. After it became clear that an attempted merger with Yahoo! would be met with intense scrutiny by the US Justice Department Google withdrew from the attempt despite arguing it was perfectly legal. Google settled with American publishers rather than fight an antitrust and copyright lawsuit over its Book Search. By avoiding legal confrontation and spinning settlements into positive news-stories Google is able to maintain its image as a gigantic media company that “isn’t evil,” that isn’t morally offensive to users despite monopolistic tendencies.

5th Filter: Control Mechanisms

For Google’s global digital economy the threat-control mechanisms aren’t political but economic. Terrorists and communists aren’t the enemies Google wants to mobilize the public against; the competition is. Google’s shimmering public image, maintained by its ‘Don’t Be Evil’ motto, high levels of transparency, and opening of access to tools and applications for users, allow it to paint the pay-based old media competition as threats to the digital revolution. If Google isn’t allowed to acquire Yahoo!, they argue, then Microsoft, a “closed” (and therefore more “evil”) company shouldn’t be allowed to either based on virtue.

Conclusions

Google’s role as a media-conglomerate on the web, expanding to cover new media (YouTube, Gmail, Google office applications, Picasa) and access (the Chrome browser, Android OS, financing other browsers to make Google the default search tool) in addition to its core profit-producing search/ad system, allow the company to expand the political economy from a national to a global scale. On this level, the ‘propaganda’ produced is an ideology against nation-state autonomy and old media methods (namely the hypercommercialism but, notably, not the conglomeration and concentration of power) but with a Western (American) bias. In the global digital economy everything from libraries (Book Search) to energy policy (The Green Energy Initiative) are controlled by the corporation, not by publicly-backed political institutions.


References

1. McChesney, Robert. Rich Media Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

2. Dai, Xiudian. “Google.” New Political Economy. September 2007, 433-442

3. Herman, Edward, and Noam Chomsky. “A Propaganda Model.” Media and Cultural Studies Key Works Revised Edition. Eds. Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006. 258-294.

4. “Everything You Wanted To Know About Google But Were Afraid To Ask.” faberNovel. December 2008. http://www.slideshare.net/misteroo/all-about-google-presentation?type=powerpoint. [Accessed 3 December 2008]

5. “Google Violates Its ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Motto.” Intelligence Squared US. NPR.org, 26 November 2008. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97216369 [Accessed 28 November 2008].

Written by Tyler Baber

December 3, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized