The Best I Ever Had

A pleasant retail experience, I am finding, is harder to come by these days. As technology infiltrates stores at even the most basic level and people’s workloads become heavier, fast-paced and more stressful, I find it is difficult to have a genuine, helpful human experience with retail employees. However, it is not all robotic salespeople and ignorance out there as I found a glimmer of hope, at Dymocks a year or so ago.

The best retail experience I have encountered was around a year ago  at Christmas time- the busiest time. I was looking for a book for my little sister (an absolute bookworm) at Dymocks, it was a book she requested so I was on a mission to find it. When I couldn’t see the book any where in the store, I felt defeated and must have looked it too, as the sales lady asked me what I was looking for. I told her that I had searched the store for the book and couldn’t find it.

image via dymocksfranchising.wordpress.com

After she did a quick search around the store, the woman looked in the computer inventory to see if they had requested the book. It showed there were some in stock, still packed. she went and looked through the packed books (meanwhile the store was extremely busy!) and couldn’t find any evidence of it.

She talked to a manager and found that the next shipment for the book was due indefinitely next week. The woman then called the competing store (ABC Shop) and asked them to see if they had the book in store- they did! She told me to go to the ABC Shop and the book will be waiting for me on the counter.

This was a rare occasion where a retail employee went up and beyond what i expected of her and the store. I feel this service really paid off as keeping me as a customer as when I want to buy a book, Dymocks is always my first port of call (even though online sites are so tempting) and I am still talking about the experience after a year. Safe to say, thanks to that woman, my sister had a much more enjoyable Christmas day with her head buried in that ‘must-have’ book!

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Exporting Laughs

Today within the Television industry we see shows being translated into numerous different languages and being shared across national borders. While many people might think this is a positive, there are actually numerous boundaries encountered when the original cultural context is changed. Within each new culture unique sets of values, beliefs, customs and interests are present, which change the way each person approaches TV shows. This is the most apparent in the genre of comedy.

For example:

Kath and Kim U.S version = FAILURE

Kath & Kim
Kath & Kim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whilst The Office U.S version = SUCCESS

The Office cast in the third season
The Office cast in the third season (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The genre of comedy according to Andy Medhurst “plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity, because it invites us to belong by sharing the joke”, which makes it an appealing form of entertainment. When directors and producers are looking to translate comedies into new audiences and cultures, they do this by either exporting the content completely as is, all over the world like the TV show F.R.I.E.N.D.S which proved a hit world-wide, or they can sell the format of the show to buyers for it to be recreated in a new culture as we see in the reality show Big Brother.

Further, Friends is an example of a TV show that was exported, unaltered, all over the world, to places like Australia, Bulgaria, France, Portugal and Russia. It’s even been popular in China, with the creation a real life, fully functional “Central Perk” cafe (see the clip below). So we can see,  even though China and the U.S have vastly different cultures, some TV shows are transferable between cultures. Perhaps, as the clip suggests, Friends is successful because it focuses on the universal theme of friendship.

What makes television work in different cultures?

Well, no one is really sure. But it is easy to tell why a TV show fails. Sue Turnbull (2008) writes about why Kath and Kim (US) failed. It seems that the most significant reason was casting. The American characters of Kath and Kim were two slim, attractive women who did not at all convey the deluded nature of the Australian originals. As Turnbull notes, the humour in Kath and Kim was derived directly from the characters’ perceptions of themselves as different from reality.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of luck involved in exporting and importing foreign television. Success or failure is dependent on a multitude of factors specific to different cultures, such as political concerns, recent local events and cultural history. What one culture ‘gets’, another doesn’t.

The good news is, with globalisation, sharing of television is occurring more and more frequently, and so we can expect to see more TV shows from all around the world. It’s quite possible the reason some shows fail is that they are simply too ‘foreign’. With increased integration, perhaps it will be easier to understand and share TV, and especially, the world’s comedies.

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What foreign comdey television do you watch? Do you understand the humour?

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in
Translation’ Metro Magazine Issue 159

Escape to the Cinema

The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.

 

 

In 1969, Torsten Hägerstrand, an urban planner  came up with the concept of a space-time path to illustrate how a person navigates his or her way through the spatial-temporal environment. He identified three categories of limitations, or “constraints”: capability, coupling, and authority

  • Capability: Can I get there?
  • Coupling: Can I get there at the right time?
  • Authority:  Am I allowed to be there?
Torsten Haegerstrand image via http://belgeo.revues.org/10085

Torsten Haegerstrand image via http://belgeo.revues.org/10085

What happens when you apply these contingencies to the cinema? The cinema is a popular social place, and has been for many, many decades, it could be compared to going to a concert, theater, museum, travelling and doing sports. It involves going out with a group of friends (or alone?) coupled with a sense of relaxation and sense of fun and excitement.

To test Hägerstrand’s theory,  on a rainy afternoon, I sent my boyfriend a text message and asked if he wanted to see the Inbetweeners 2 that night, After texting back and forth* about times and which cinema (we had to make sure he didn’t miss the rugby game) we agreed that he would pick me up 8 (I don’t have a car [capability]) for the 830pm movie at Hoyts Warrawong.

 I then began making carrot sticks and dip for some movie snacks for us as I hate popcorn and it is so expensive. My boyfriend picked me up and off we went, I was excited to spend the rainy night at the cinema and laugh at the antics of the Inbetweener boys, I don’t think I could say the same about my boyfriend.

Lining up to purchase our tickets ($9.90 each), my boyfriend impulse bought some popcorn AND maltesers. I was fine with my carrots, dip and bottle of water, nicely smuggled in my bag! It was surprisingly busy ( I didn’t think people still went to the cinema? Maybe it was the weather…) and the whole place was filled with couples.  We were ushered to our theater (never knew that was still a thing) and then ushered to our seat in theater room, where we also had the option to buy more snacks.

Sitting, in our assigned seats (up the back on the side), the movie finally (after the 23453 commercials) began, as did the laughs. I looked over to my boyfriend who was laughing and shaking his head. I will admit though, the squeal  was not as good as the first. 

After the movie there was a rush to get out. Everyone was back to reality, adjusting to the bright lights. Cinemas, offer a sort of escape from reality. You are in a dark room with strangers where your only thought is what is going on, on the screen in front of you. Everything outside that door does not matter for now. The romanticism involved with the cinema is something that cannot be accomplished from downloading a movie and watching it at home. 

Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.

Perhaps it is the social conducts that apply to every social space, that give the cinema the edge in the digital age. When you go to the cinema, you usually combine it with great socializing and food, and yes that could be replicated in your lounge room, but to me it is just not the same. The rest of the world seems to agree as Box Office Figures have almost doubled for the top movie of 1993 to 2013.

You can see how all of these social constraints affected our cinema-going experience.It is also easy to see how these constraints can be applied in almost every social setting. When you are planning your next social outing, see how these constraints affect your experience. 

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*My boyfriend has this odd rule that he refuses to see any sequels, as he thinks they are unnecessary, always terrible and ruin the first, so it took a lot of convincing on my part for him to come with me haha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hybrid(e) and Prejudice

Looking at the Transnational film industry, this week as brought us back to the ever appropriate topic of hybridity. Before we delve into that however let us look at what actually defines a film as being transnational. A transnational film encourages itself to not be limited to one specific nation, rather comprising of ‘globalisation… and the counter hegemonic responses of filmakers from colonial and third world countries (Ezra and Rowden, 2006, p.1).

I bet you can list up to five films that all contain transnational elements! One of my personal favourites is the 2006 film, Babel (trailer below):

  • Mexican Director – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
  • Narrative set/ and filmed in Morocco, Japan and the United States
  • Languages used: English, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Japanese Sign Language, Berber and French
  • Multi-Nation Cast, ranging from American , Australian, Japanese and British
  • Array of funders from France, Mexico and US – Predominately  USA – Paramount  Pictures (from IMDB)

The collaboration, assembling and influences of people from different nationalities makes for an interesting mix of hybridity.  To clarify, cultural hybridity is a mutual inter-mingling that comes from the European (explorer) nations and the Explored nations, which results in a ‘third language’. This is certainly apparent in the evolving state of movie content.   This week’s lecture was interesting in its exploration of the ways that cultural influence becomes apparent in the film industry.

In particular, the modern flow of Bollywood (the second largest film industry in the world) into western cultures demonstrates perfectly the hybridity in transnational film and the implications it faces for various audiences. The reading for this week Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows (which, despite its name, is quite a succinct and to-the-point article), discussed the modern flow of Bollywood styling into western culture.

The  Bollywood – Hollywood hybridity at play is demonstrated in the 2004 Bollywood take on the 19th Century Austen classic Pride and Prejudice – Bride & Prejudice.  The elements this movie borrows from the Bollywood style – over-the-top-ness and musical numbers, is what makes Bride & Prejudice stand out from other romantic comedies.

Now, Western audiences might see Bride & Prejudice as a piece of Indian cinema, due to the Bollywood-style musical numbers and setting, whilst on the flip side, Indian audiences will observe the obvious western influences – after all, it is based on an Austen novel.   Whilst this movie did fairly well in Western cinemas, the reception in India was lukewarm at best. Below are some reviews of IMDB that highlight the mixed responses to the transnational film.

negreview

 

This is an interesting case of cultural flows operating opposite to the expected system of the U.S to… everywhere else influence – or ‘Hollywood’s hegemony’ (Karan, Schaefer 2010 p.310).  This can be compared to the ‘Eastern’ film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which was hugely successful in the West, but not so much in China – the country where it was perceived to have originated from.

This may stem from the attitude of audiences in India and China that these movies portray Westernized versions of their culture – and while the hybridity of Bride and Crouching Tiger are exotic to the Western audience, the stereotypical portrayal of their culture come across as stale to the ‘local’ audiences.

In the end however, I personally think it is great that on a global scale we can all appreciate the art of story-telling through film and the ability it has to bring communities/ cultures/ groups/ people together. You cannot underestimate the power of film in this globalised world and how transnational film, in particular mirrors the eclectic mix of cultures throughout the globe .

Reference List:

Ezra, E., & Rowden, T. (2006). Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader. London: Routledge

Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’ Global Media and Communication Vol 6: 3, pp. 309-316

National Broadband Wontwork

Did you know that Australia has slower internet than Romania, Latvia and Israel, in fact we don’t even make it into the top 20! The Australian Government plans to change this with the construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The NBN claims that it will enable access to fast, reliable and affordable phone and internet services.

Marketing the NBN as a key component to your life, has been the message of the building and operating company NBN CO. Yet the continuing issue is the drag on effect that has occurred due to the change in government.  This has meant that the idea and message of the NBN has been frustratingly blurry. 

Closing this digital divide we experience in Australia is no easy feat as it would be difficult to get the same fast internet speeds in a remote Aussie town compared to a bustling suburb in Sydney. The NBN supporters acknowledge this and say they plan to use a mixture of technologies to deliver it so they have the best fit for each area.  The video below paints the possibilities and how much better life will be for the average Australian household.

Now let’s look at another Australian household, my childhood home and what their thoughts are on the NBN. My childhood home is located in the small rural town Inverell, with a population of 12000 in northern NSW.  My childhood home is located 30 kilometres out of Inverell on a small farm where my 4 younger siblings (19, 15, 13, 7) and my mother and step-father live.

As a teenager, I remember always having problems with the internet. It was (is) very slow and we could only ever have 3gb PER MONTH(!!) for the entire household, due to being in a rural area. It was a nightmare to do homework and I never had the luxury to YouTube or go on social media and talk to friends. You could say I was pleased to move to Wollongong and have unlimited access to the internet! My family still suffer from the 3gb quota and are excited what the NBN have in store for them.

No faster internet any time soon for us

No faster internet any time soon for us

To no surprise, it appears the NBN has nothing in store for my family, as I checked the website for an update. Closing the digital divide for this Australian household seems to be something more of a utopian vision they can only dream of. Nevertheless I still asked them over the phone what they thought about the NBN.

What do you expect to do differently when and if the NBN arrives? The 15 year old replies: OMG I just want to go on YouTube endlessly, is that really too much to ask? I would just like to be like everyone else and be able to go on Tumblr all the time and Snap my friends without being yelled out at by Mum for going over the internet quota! It would be easier as well in regards to homework and assignments I guess. Everything is online now and I feel pretty left out. 

My mother: I would love to be able to connect all our devices such as the ipad and laptops and have the freedom to use them whenever for however long. I know it is tough for the children to live in these times without fast and unlimited internet access, so I am hoping the NBN will allow us to have affordable and accessible internet soon. I think I will watch more TV shows online that way, download more music and read more articles. I know we would be able to do more business at home, so we wouldn’t have to spend such long hours in town. However in saying that, I do not want my family to become isolated by our devices, I am seeing that already with the girls and their iphones. I would like the home to have the capability the NBN offers but I don’t want us to abuse it and lose communication and family time.

My mother seemed to be talking about the same thing Turkle (2012) was cautioning:  that society is forgetting the art of real conversations as we now have the ability to edit, delete and retouch. Turkle maintains that using an application in place of real world, face-to-face interactions is having a detrimental effect on how we prioritise offline communication. In comparison.Turkle (2012) believes we are ‘shortchanging ourselves’.

“Because the moment that people are alone, even for a few seconds, they become anxious, they panic, they fidget, they reach for a device. Just think of people at a checkout line or at a red light. Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved. And so people try to solve it by connecting.”

I do agree with what my mother and Turkle are saying, we have lost our sense of self, our sense of doing nothing, just breathing, taking it all in. I posed this quote to my 13 year old sister and she disagreed. She thinks that this is how people are now, this is how we live, that the device is our second mind. She added that ‘mum only says this because she is old and she never grew up with it, it is just like how tv would have use to have been!’. Livingstone (2009) agrees with my sister as he stresses that worries about social isolation and addiction that were the same with the arrival of Television. 

Looking ahead five years what kind of things do you expect Australian families to be doing online? My 19 year old sister: In short, everything. I would if I could. I think they would be grocery shopping online, clothes shopping, paying bills, working, skyping, organising, programming the washing machine, just everything. I think a lot of small businesses will suffer, but they will probably migrate online too and function out of their garage haha. Who knows, five years doesn’t seem that far away but a lot can and will change between now and then. Even now, I do everything online, i’ll Facebook message [my sisters] in the other room so mum can’t hear us, now who would have thought that.

The number of households with access to the Internet at home continues to increase, reaching 7.3 million households in 2012–13 and representing 83% of all households (ABS, 2014). With the Internet access in Australia rapidly growing. It appears the NBN would be a welcome change to my childhood home, where my family would have the opportunity to join the rest of Australia well (96% who have internet access at home, ABS) on the connectivity front. The NBN has the ability to catapult Australia out of its out-dated technology. We are already globally isolated enough, we don’t want to be isolated by our slow internet  in the technological future as well. 

Australia's internet is outdated

Australia’s internet is out dated

 

REFERENCES:

Livingstone, S, 2009, ‘Half a century of television in the lives of our children and families’, in The end of television? Its impact so far. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, ed Katz, E and Scannell, P, pp.151-163, accessed 22/08/14, http://ann.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/625/1/151

Turkle, S 2012, ‘Alone Together’, TED talk, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtLVCpZIiNs.

 
 

Citizens of the Education System

They say you learn something new everyday. And, with such an international mix of students in our universities and higher educations today, we really meet someone new from somewhere different everyday. Thus, the true definition of an Australian student these days is a constantly changing complexion. The engagement of our international seekers has influenced the ‘student identity’ as Australia is one of the most popular destinations for international students.

Despite being one of the most popular education destination it still has its challenges: social, financial, racial and communication barriers have meant the international student has a lot more stress than finishing that assignment on time.

THE POOR UNI STUDENT: The study by the HSBC (in US Dollars) imgae via AFR

THE POOR UNI STUDENT: The study by the HSBC (in US Dollars) image via AFR

Vogl and Kell (2007) claim that some international students feel intimidated from aspects of Australian life, most predominantly the language and knowing what to talk about. With over 200 languages spoken in Australia, the lack of communication strips confidence from foreigners. Yet the language that most causes trouble for students is the Australian vernacular.

So it is no surprise that Marginson (2012) the achievement of success for international students is not only their academic adjustment, but also their adjustment to the social and cultural environment.In my experience students around the university seem to hold a conversation quite well over a coffee or drink at the UniBar. Aussies however certainly have a distinct way of communicating with each other, with a quick tongue and greetings which may seem derogatory to international students however perfectly friendly to locals. A lack of adjustment to the Australian social language and environment can definitely lead to an international student feeling uncomfortable. Carl Barron demonstrates our off-putting way with words.

This lack of adjustment is most commonly not to the lack of effort of the international student either, as a study by Kell and Vogl (2007) found that local students have become disinterested in bridging the gaps between them and their international counterparts, putting it down to that the local student is just ‘too busy’.

Australians can often come across as too parochial, trapped within an Australia-centred view of a diverse and complex world.  Kell and Vogl (2007) suggest that particularly Asian students in this matter express disappointment from a lack of connection with Australian society and students. This seems to be an important issue as 80% of international students are from Asia (Marginson 2012). If local students were to have a greater engagement and interest with the international students simply by saying hi or giving a smile, this sense of parochialism could be diminished.

Education allows for personal growth through two main avenues: multiplicity and hybridity. Described by Simon Marginson multiplicity is the process of ‘living more than one life’; essentially that a student creates a new life to fit into the proximities of the country that they are studying in. Now this doesn’t sound ideal but it just shows that international students learn the capabilities of adapting to different situations and in that they show higher levels of motivation and determination. I’m not saying that those that don’t have to travel aren’t motivated or determined, just that international students are essentially ‘thrown into the deep end’ and have to learn to adapt maybe more quickly than those that don’t.

Hybridity on the other hand seems like the more culturally complex option and ties in with globalisation, as it involves the integration of the new culture with their own, original one. This essentially creates a citizen of the world or cosmopolitanism rather than a citizen of, or belonging to, a particular nation-state.

In the end it all comes down to feeling like that you are at home- like you belong. So I think it is important to remember as we study our courses, we should not just accept different cultures but go a little extra and perhaps start a conversation with the people you see in your class. It is the little things like talking about the weather or asking what their favourite subject is at the moment that could really help a student feel more at home and plus you get to make new friends too and maybe a couch to sleep on when you backpack around their country, now how is that for a worldly citizen.

Sources:

Kell, P and Vogl, G, 2007 ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multicultralis Conference Proceedings, Maquarie University 28-29 September 2006

Marginson, S, 2012 ‘International education as self-formation’, Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne

How many views did you get?

Measuring audiences’ media use has been around for decades, as businesses, producers and marketers wish to gain information about them to make more money. However, as I learnt in the lecture this week, the way they measure audiences participation with television and radio is rather outdated and unsophisticated which can lead to incorrect results. I was extremely surprised to find this out as I always assumed measuring companies such as Nielsen would have an extensive and proficient system of measurement, rather, it is just a booklet and a black box.

Radio is measured only in the five mainland capitals via 8 surveys per year and these surveys are used to represent the entire Australian population. Television is measured by giving some people in the metropolitan area black boxes to record what they are watching on television and how many people are watching. I highly doubt that these two practices are accurate sources of measurement. However, traditional media such as television and radio is not the only thing marketers and producers need to measure. What about the popular online hub of videos – YouTube? Let’s see how marketers are measuring the audiences on this platform…

As we know, it all comes down to money. Companies measure audiences so they can sell us products. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network as of mid-2013. And rather than just being content you watch, it is content you watch, share and shape.  As of March 2013, one billion, (B!), people around the world watch seven billion (still B!) hours of YouTube every month so it is obvious that companies would want to measure these billions of people (Nielsen 2013).

 According to distilled.net most marketers don’t know how to quantify the success of YouTube marketing campaigns. Part of this is down to the (currently sub-par) quality of YouTube analytics data, but a wider problem is that businesses often fail to set KPIs before beginning the process of creating and promoting content on YouTube. One of the main reasons why KPIs don’t get set is that,  most companies don’t understand how to think about YouTube, and therefore fail to tie YouTube marketing campaigns to tangible business goals. While there is a lot of room for improvement, YouTube is off to a good start with these three main tools they have to measure audiences; YouTube Watch, YouTube Analytics and AdWords for Video Performance Reporting.

YouTube Watch gives you a broad overview of your views and engagement. You can see your total views, significant discovery events (tells you when the video started catching fire), audiences (where was your video popular, gender/age of your viewers), ratings, comments and favourites. All of these measurement metrics offered by YouTube can be very helpful to content producers and advertisers. This approach is very simple so if companies are after a deeper analysis of audiences they can use YouTube Analytics.

YouTube Analytics is where your video’s stats are given a thorough analysis. You can view reports that give you detailed look at your channel views: daily, weekly, and monthly. You’ll usually see spikes on new videos that are released. “Compare Metric” gives you a second line to compare your views with “monetizable views” and “unique viewers.” You can see the world map, demographics, playback locations (e.g. mobile, embedded on website etc), traffic sources (e.g. YouTube suggested video), and audience retention and engagement reports.

The third measurement metric is AdWords for Video Reporting, which companies may be interested in to see how their campaign is performing. It measures impressions, views,  view rate and average cost per view.  With AdWords you can target who you want and easily set a budget. You can also break the performance of these ads down to every metric.

It is clear that YouTube’s audience measurements are a lot more accurate and thorough than the traditional media platforms. This is perhaps why there was $5.6 billion dollars spent on YouTube advertising in 2013. It pays to know your audience.

++Below is a short video on how IBM is adapting to the changing media landscape with audience measurement.