“I was disappointed that pornography got to the Net. But I’ve come to learn that pornographers are almost always the first ones to adopt new technology. If there is a new way of distributing their product, they’ll find it.”
-Vint Cerf, one of the Internet’s creators
As I worked on the fifth edition of Mass Communication: Living in a Media World during the summer of 2014, a fish named Grayson was playing the video games Pokémon Red and Blue on a Game Boy emulator using a motion sensor aimed at his fish tank. Each area of the tank is assigned to a different Game Boy button, and as he swims into the area, the button is triggered. That a pair of technically oriented college students in New York would rig some equipment to allow their fish to randomly play a video game is not surprising. It’s the kind of hack that might seem reasonable on a late Friday night. The fact that as many as 22,000 people at a time would watch the fish play Pokémon using the video game streaming service Twitch is kind of amazing.
Should you join in on the party, you will see a divided screen showing the Pokémon game on the left, the swimming fish with the control grid imposed over it in the center, and a chat session on the right where viewers either try to kibitz the fish or proclaim that he is dead. (The fish’s owners point out continually that Grayson isn’t dead; he’s just sleeping.)
Watch live video from FishPlaysPokemon on www.twitch.tv
Catherine Moresco and Patrick Facheris, Grayson’s owners, were likely inspired by the efforts of an anonymous Australian gamer who rigged the fifteen-year-old Game Boy game Pokémon Red to be played by the inhabitants of the stream’s chat room. At its peak, as many as 75,000 people at a time were inputting controller commands with text comments. The stream differs from most of the video game viewing that takes place on Twitch because it combines the sport of watching someone play a video game on Twitch.tv with actually participating in the progress of the game.
The story in the New York Times started out provocatively:
When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”
That opening line, and a story that went on to note that actress Viola Davis, who stars in Rhimes’ TV series “How To Get Away With Murder,” is “older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful” than Olivia Washington, who stars in another Rhimes show, “Scandal.”
A pair of lengthy articles from NY Times public editor Margaret Sullivan quotes extensively from reader criticism of the article, that she says is righty deserved.
Read the article and the two responses from the public editor so you can form your own opinion. Does the writer, a white male, treat Rhimes the same way he would have treated a white male? What things are the critics sensitive about? How do you feel about how the author defends himself?
As I write this in mid-October, 2014 it is hard to know which, if any, of the episodes of the classic TV series I Love Lucy will remain available for free online. CBS has just announced their new pay service for streaming content, and they may or may not force all of the free copies of Lucy off the web.
In the mean time, here’s a link to several episodes of I Love Lucy from Hulu.
Box Office Mojo, the source of endless movie box office financial statistics, disappeared for a couple of days in mid-October 2014, prompting speculation that the site had been absorbed into IMDb.com, which owns BOM. But then it just as mysteriously re-appeared. And no one will say what happened. Hmmm….
Me, I’m looking for Benjamin Linus and the island from Lost.
Intolerance was D.W. Griffit’s epic followup to Birth of a Nation. You can now see a nearly 3-hour cut of the film on YouTube.
David Sarnoff is one of the most influential people in the foundation of American broadcasting, having been the president of NBC from the radio era into the days of television. Here are a couple of great resources on this pioneer:
The New York Times has several bestseller lists that deal with books targeted at children and young adults. Take a look to see if your favorites are still on the list. Note that books for children and young adults typically stay on the bestseller lists longer than adult books do.
Greg Mortenson, author of the memoir Three Cups of Tea, faced enormous criticism in 2011 when several investigations turned up evidence that he had fabricated substantial portions of his two books about building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But now, in 2014, he is working to redeem that tarnished reputation. According to a story from the Washington Post, Mortenson is now back in Asia trying to get schools back on track. You can read the whole story here.
You can read more background on Mortenson and others who have fabricated memoirs here.
By and large, most people who aren’t media scholars would be hard pressed to name a single media theorist who isn’t Marshall McLuhan. But the one possible exception would be George Gerbner because of his cultivation theory. Dr. Gerbner testified before Congress about televised violence in October 1981, and his cultivation theory is one of the top three cited theoretical approaches in communication research.
Dr. Patrick E. Jamieson and Dr. Dan Romer at the University of Pennsylvania took a fresh look in 2014 at Gerbner’s work to see how it would hold up to an examination of twenty-five years of data about televised violence and people’s fear of crime. Jamieson and Romer looked at 475 hours of television programming and Gallup interviews with more than 27,000 people. In their study, they found that while increased violent content on television did not change people’s estimations of how dangerous the world around them was, it did make people more afraid of violence.
Also, below are two older readings by Gerbner.