Saturday, February 16, 2008

My set

I'm going to admit that the flickr project was actually a lot of fun.  I was initially pretty hesitant to embrace the project, and the idea of spending thirty minutes out in the cold, but it turned out pretty well. The idea of using something like Flickr as a photojournalism tool had never occurred to me, but after seeing strange applications of so many simple tools I'm starting to look at things a little differently.

Our group decided to head down to Kirkwood and try and capture the state of flux it always seems to be in. We took some pictures of the current construction going on, like the luxury apartments, and dug up some old pictures of previous projects to show that Kirkwood is a constantly morphing sort of place. But, for me, the fact that I went out and experienced the tool hands-on was only part of what made the project make so much sense. Rebecca's article on collaborative photojournalism resounded particularly loudly for me.

Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson has been at the center of a major story in the college basketball world for, supposedly, making impermissible phone calls while on probation for a similar offense at Oklahoma. While the major news media has focused on what action IU as a university will take, places like flickr allow students and fans to express their opinion. It's because of applications like flickr and the development of concepts like collaborative photojournalism that students can express themselves whenever they please, rather
than whenever the newspaper asks for their opinion or prints one of their letters.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The End of the Internet's Golden Age

Later this year, Time Warner Cable will test a metered pricing system where heavy broadband users are charged based on how much data they transfer. This test will take place in Beaumont, Texas.

"The idea is to create a more consistent, enhanced experience for our customers," Dudley said. "We can't allow a small percentage of customers to use an inordinate amount of the network to the detriment of the majority of customers."

According to Time Warner, a small percentage of users, using peer-to-peer clients, transfer exorbitant amounts of data which slows down the connection of nearby users. Time Warner also claims that the price point will remain the same for most users, and only these heavy users would be affected by the change.

This is troubling to me because it seems to be a move to not only maximize profits now, but future-proof high profit margins in the next fifteen to twenty years. If this change means that prices can only flex upwards, and never downward, Time Warner is clearly going to see much, much higher profits without providing a better or more cost-efficient service, a service that they already profit from.

Never mind that file sharing will only become exponentially more popular in the coming years, meaning that the average bandwidth usage is likely to soar upward. Users can already download movies and their favorite TV shows from iTunes. Or download entire series' worth of content from Film studios offer free high-definition trailers on their websites. Television networks stream shows online. Companies like Valve allow customers to buy and subsequently download new video games on peer-to-peer networks. As users become more comfortable with this technology and companies find ways to make money offering a greater variety of content, people will download large content more often than ever before.

A complete shift to high-definition film and television looms in the near future, and as time goes on companies are only going to offer more content online. Time Warner's tiered internet system is designed to pass the cost of enjoying this content on to their customers and increase their profit margins. If they successfully discourage heavy internet usage by charging select users more, they will not only make more money but they will also slow the adoption of similar technologies by media companies and decelerate their need to explore new, faster broadband technologies.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Neil Postman, "Reach out and Elect Someone"

Neil Postman's piece is about the growing connection between politics and entertainment. He writes that as advertisement has moved away from persuading consumers to buy their products with facts in favor of image-based ads, politicians have employed a similar tactic to sway voters.

Postman's writing described his own time accurately and this trend has only accelerated in recent times. Politicians now focus so little on the issues and so much on their image that it borders on pathetic. Mike Huckabee is hinging his campaign on his ability to link himself with the tired "Chuck Norris Facts" jokes that we've been hearing for years.

What's worse is that it works. Huckabee has already won Iowa and will likely go on to win more states. Of course, no one believes that Huckabee owes his campaign's succes to Chuck Norris, but I have to question Huckabee's cheap tactics here. Nothing is wrong with a celebrity endorsement, but making a celebrity one of the cornerstones of your campaign is a clear attempt to win votes on something other than the strength of your ideology.