Please, please no.
“Developing better in-car technology is critical for automakers like GM to attract younger, tech-savvy buyers. If they can pull it off, the companies will generate new sources of revenue and boost profit margins. One approach may be for GM to sell advertising within the car itself.” Jun 14, 2013
Cicadas! Jun 9, 2013
My wife and I went to see the 17-year cicada emergence today. I took this, among many other photos. A pretty amazing event that won’t happen again until 2030.
“I approach my journalism as a litigator. People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.” Jun 7, 2013
Awesome Artwork by Kate Themel Jun 6, 2013
I love highlighting cool artists I come across in day to day life. One of our local cafes, The Funky Monkey, is also a gallery and some of the artists’ work they display is really beautiful stuff. One of the recent exhibitions was of work by Kate Themel, all of which was particularly impressive. She creates quilts that look for all the world like spectacular paintings. I stared at one in person for two minutes before I even realized it was done in fabric. Her site has a no-copying notice, but the above image, titled “NYE in NYC,” is the one used in all her promotional materials, so I’ll chance sharing it with you here as a way of pointing you to her work. If she’d like the post taken down I’ll be happy to comply.
Technology Review on TV’s Staying Power Jun 6, 2013
Technology Review just published this interesting infographic on the persistence of traditional television viewing in the age of the Internet.
The Amen Break Jun 6, 2013
Ran into this again yesterday as I was cleaning out my Google Reader account. It’s a nice look at remix that’s already made the rounds, but is worth sharing again.
As I mentioned some time ago, I have a paper coming out in Communication, Culture & Critique on the tussle between Hulu, Boxee, and their users in the period between 2007 and 2008. This piece is, I think, my favorite of the things I’ve published so far as it most clearly lays out my research perspective and agenda. I’m now happy to say that the preprint is a featured piece on the NSF-sponsored research blog, Culture Digitally. I’m cross-posting my introduction to the article below, but I hope you’ll visit, read, and, if you see fit, comment on the original at Culture Digitally.
With the permission of the editorial staff of Communication, Culture & Critique, I’m pleased to share a pre-print of my forthcoming article, “Going over the top: Online television distribution as socio-technological system.”
As I say in the essay, “many of the most interesting scholars on the subject of the politics of technology focus on its obduracy. In driving home the point that artifacts have politics and design has implications, they look at how artifacts often stick around in such a way that we must live with the consequences of design.” But one of the most interesting things about digital technologies today is their ephemerality. Our digital environment abounds with evanescent hacks, patches, and quick fixes, many of them laboriously assembled and bearing all the hallmarks of complex socio-technological artifacts, but at the same time unabashedly temporary.
As a scholar trained to consider the lasting impacts of design, for some time now I’ve been attempting to come to terms, not with the obduracy of political artifacts—the sociology of the freeway system, the power grid, or the railroad. Rather, I’ve been looking for a sociology of the kludge: a language to capture the agency, intelligence, and politics behind fleeting, inelegant, and opportunistic solutions that—while they often evolve over time to become infrastructure—are deployed first and foremost with regard to their immediate consequences.
Examples of this sort of ingenuity abound in the case of online television distribution, where large companies, start-ups, and users alike are, as we speak, hammering out evolving solutions to delivering and consuming content in new ways, in new places, and on new terms. Media distribution is an area that’s arguably understudied in general, and I’ve found online television distribution a wonderful corner of the media landscape through which to explore the sociology of the kludge. The zeal with which players in this arena exploit market inefficiencies, brief windows of opportunity, and gaps in regulation is instructive and sometimes breathtaking. It is no coincidence, for example, that a dissenting appeals court judge who ruled recently on legal challenges to the online TV start-up, Aereo’s business model, called the company “a Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, overengineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law.”
My own attached essay looks at the how new pathways for television distribution were forged in the period between 2007 and 2009, through the lens of two start-up companies with very different objectives: the online television portal Hulu, and the connected television interface company, Boxee, as well as the users who engaged with and modified their offerings. In these cases you can see, in embryo, many of the industry controversies that have followed in the subsequent half decade, including not just the Aereo case, but also dust-ups over Google TV, the rise of “TV Everywhere,” the near sell-off of Hulu by the networks, and other tumultuous events in online television distribution.
I hope you find the paper valuable and I welcome your comments and insights. Please feel free to share this work or point people to it. The citation info is as follows:
Braun, J. A. (2013). Going over the top: Online television distribution as
socio-technological system. Communication, Culture & Critique 6(3).
At the request of the publishers, I should also mention that Communication, Culture & Critique is a journal of the International Communication Association and is published by Wiley.
[Citation edited June 6, 2013 to reflect new target publication date. —JB]