G’day Mate! The Australian Film Industry on the downfall.

australia-header1

There’s no hiding the fact that when Australian films are released in Australian cinemas, they are very rarely popular or successful – films such as Australia and Happy Feet are some exceptions, yet there is an underlying cringe factor when watching an Australian film with Australian actors with ridiculous over the top accents which make the Australian audience uncomfortable. I for one am not the biggest fan of Australian films, particularly those which stereotype and over-exaggerate Australian culture (Hint: Wolf Creek).

So with these factors considered, its no wonder the our film industry is suffering. If you take a look at any successful Aussie actor, they’re either living in America, starring in American films and/or putting on American accents in the films they’re in. Australians love their home grown tv shows like the popular Offspring and Master Chef Australia and our Music industry is also increasingly popular given the number of festivals held in Australia each year. So why then, do we avoid going to watch Australian films? CEO of Screen Australia, Graeme Mason, has said that “Australians are clearly wanting to watch Australian content because they are watching it on television, and people offshore are celebrating our films and filmmakers, but there’s a disconnect getting them to the audience. It’s baffling to all of us.”

The statistic’s for Australia’s share of the box office show that in 2013, Australian films only shared 3.5% of the total Australian Box Office. As well as this, in 2013 Australia only released 23 films in comparison to America’s 183 released. It’s no surprise that the Australian Film Industry is struggling and without the support of local Australian’s consuming and viewing future films, it may see the industry in great struggle for future years.

In order to attempt to draw some information and answers as to why Australian films are not popular amongst Australians it is important to devise a qualitative form of research from the public. When thinking about the different types of research methods that would be appropriate, the most relevant possible approach I came up with was to create project that focuses on Australian audience of 18-25 year olds, analysing their approach to Australian films through a survey based on past information on the popularity of Australian films. By analysing this information and current trends of Australian cinema attendance of people in this age group, this information can be used to create a Website with the information readily available and promote up and coming Australian films and other information in order to boost involvement and support. This website could also be used for potential crowd-sourced funding, as research shows that people are still consuming these Australian films, whether or not they actually go to the cinema to watch them, there are still being watched.

References:

News.com.au. 2014. Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/story-fnk853hr-1227057559133. [Accessed 23 September 14].

Screen Australia. 2014. Australian Content: Box Office. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/australianshare.aspx. [Accessed 25 September 14].

Advertisements

Another social anxiety; Mobile phones in classrooms.

il_fullxfull-377596421_858g

It’s no secret that media usage has become increasingly popular amongst younger generations of people in Australia, particularly that of school students who undoubtedly own a personal mobile device be it a mobile, laptop or tablet. There’s no doubt that students are somewhat encouraged not to use said devices, particularly mobile phones, during class and this was certainly the case during my time at high school. The rules were that all mobile phones were to be either left at home, or in your locker, yet many of us (myself included) tried to defy these rules by texting under desks, in pencil cases and behind large library books but to no avail. Laptops were still allowed to be used during class, however, which made me wonder why then if they can access social media sites, are they still allowed?

It’s rare to find a student without a mobile nowadays and especially one that doesn’t have access to social media sites. Why then, are there so many rules and regulations around having a mobile device at school if everyone has one? This leads me to reiterate my argument from last week’s blog post about multitasking, in which I discovered that studies have suggested if you’re doing more than two things at once, and then you’re unable to complete these tasks at full capacity.This stands as one possible argument for the prohibition of mobile phones in class, and was perhaps one of the reasons for my particular high school to have a strict zero tolerance policy during class or school assemblies.

In terms of controlling the usage of mobiles in class at my high school, a first warning was given, then the phone was confiscated if it was found to be used again, then the final step would be probation and possible lunchtime detention. My younger brother who attends my old high school has said that whilst these rules still exist, they are much looser on the immediate discipline and students are coming up with more devious ways of avoiding being caught on Facebook or texting during class.

In contrast to these regulations, students were allowed to use the devices during breaks, study periods and roll call times, which highlights the fact that the rules were completely subject to the space in which the mobile devices were used. Nowadays its hard for teachers and professors to have the expectation that their class of 25 or lecture room of 50 to have full attention on who is speaking for the complete duration of the time spent in class, without checking their phone or laptop for text messages or social media updates; it’s just becoming more and more unrealistic.

In terms of social anxieties and moral concerns which are presenting themselves as a result of the use of mobile phones during class, many teachers and parents in particular are concerned that these students will create poor concentration habits, resulting in a lack of fully comprehending information, a lack of engagement in tasks and assignments of the like and an overall disengagement and separation from the world outside of their mobile phones.

Looking to the future, perhaps classrooms will see the inclusions of mobile phones for the use of educational purposes strictly and to be monitored by teachers in order to create a positive classroom environment where learning enhancement is central.

 

Multitasking – is it really that bad?

 

With the ever-expanding technological world and the rise of smartphones, its no doubt that we as the users are becoming more and more disengaged with everyday life. To find a plethora of laptops, tablets and smartphones then look no further than the average University classroom. These devices have led us to be using them whilst completing other tasks or even operating multiple devices at once, with a 2013 study showing that 71% of Australians are multitasking whilst watching the television; this leads us to question just how long will this trend last, and how will it evolve? Just how does this affect our ability to communicate face to face without the help of a device?

There are several existing arguments both for and against the ability to multitask in the workplace, at University and at home. On one hand there are suggestions that it can be distracting and limits full concentration on set tasks whereas other arguments state that multitasking can enhance productivity in the workplace as well as completing more than one task at a time.

In order to derive some explanation as to whether multitasking is detrimental and may become a thing of the past, its important to focus on a specific media central domain, such as University. Studies have suggested that if you’re doing more than two things at once, then you’re unable to complete these tasks at full capacity. This can be extremely detrimental to the average Uni student, who is trying to finish several assignments on time whilst simultaneously checking social media, texting their friends or answering emails. Clifford Nass is a cognitive scientist at Stanford University who specialises in interface design and who studied the multitasking habits of students and the results were as he put it, “a damning indictment”. The findings showed that the multitasking students struggled to filter relevant information from irrelevant information, the students who were classed as “high multi-taskers” poor mental organisation skills and experienced difficulty differentiating between tasks they were presented with and overall multi-taskers had poor social skills due to their lack of attention to details in personal conversations it was suggested.

These findings accompany several other opinions that on the whole, multitasking can be extremely detrimental to a student’s overall concentration and ability to complete tasks to their full potential. But when will we ever take the time to complete tasks one at a time, devoting our full attention to them? With the ever-popular social media rise and new and improved personal devices it’s difficult to predict what lies ahead.

References:

Brandon Keim. 2012. Is multitasking bad for us?. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/is-multitasking-bad.html. [Accessed 13 September 14].

Deloitte. 2013. Multi-device consumption has come of age: Australians are digital omnivores. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_au/au/e4cd62fc7673f310VgnVCM2000003356f70aRCRD.htm. [Accessed 13 September 14].

 

Antisocial social expectations.

You don’t have to look hard to find the vast majority of the public accessing mobile devices. As mobile phone technologies are becoming more advanced and innovated, the use of these devices is definitely on the rise. With the majority of these devices used for social media access, users can stay connected anywhere, anytime over multiple platforms. This allows for users to access these platforms regularly when in public, offering a sense of security and belonging for their user. From University, to bus stops, to restaurants, to libraries; mobile phones are being profusely checked by their users as a means of filling time in between daily activities.

When I sat down during my break between tutorials last Wednesday at Uni, I decided to observe the mobile device usage in the area next to Rush and Boost Juice. After ordering my latte I sat down at one of the smaller tables, opened my laptop and watched for a good hour. The lunchtime rush was in full swing at around 1:00pm and when I looked at the lines at both outlets, almost every person was accessing their smartphone or tablet. Even in groups of friends there were 1 or 2 people looking at screens. The assumption for most was that they were accessing social media, which is the predominate use amongst the Uni population of students. I also noticed many of these people would carry on their conversations whilst simultaneously checking their mobiles.

These observations lead me to raise some questions regarding mobile usage amongst peers when in social groups. Just what are the social expectations of mobile phone/device usage? Is it acceptable to be regularly checking your mobile during conversations? At the dinner table? During lectures? For the majority of people whom I observed at Uni, they are completely acceptable in social situations and conversations, or so it would seem. Perhaps people of the technological age have become accustomed to having mobiles and tablets present in everyday social situations; they’ve become a part of daily lives, particularly with the rise of social media popularity. Most of us are guilty of being glued to our mobiles for prolonged periods, scrolling few news feeds and posting selfies on Instagram. But are these trends affecting our social interactions with our friends?

This again brings me back to Sherry Turkle’s concept of being “alone together” when it comes to personal relationships and mobile devices. We continue to live our lives surrounded by personal devices, checking our interactions and popularity but forgetting the importance of personal, face-to-face conversations with our friends and family. This is a vital aspect of our lives that is severely lacking and is depleting due to the rise of mobile technology and will continue to do so, so long as its accepted in our society and considered a social norm.

The future of cinemas, is it that bright?

Some of my fondest childhoods memories are trips to the local cinema with my friends, the smell of popcorn and the freezing air con that was always turned up too high was always a treat. From memory the first movie I ever saw in a cinema was “Shrek” which would’ve been when I was in year 1 and it was a part of my best friend’s birthday party. What a novelty it was going to the movies out night only to fill up on red frogs and Malteesers before dinner at Mc Donald’s. During high-school, going to the movies became more of a social outing in the Southern Highlands; it was one of the few “cool” activities left to do and that’s if you were even invited out (awkward). I remember being outraged when they moved the ticket prices up from $9 to $10 for a concession ticket at the local Empire Cinema in Bowral. Oh the horror!

Taking these aspects into account, and the fact that I’m a complete stinge when it comes to spending money on anything that isn’t food I was faced with many a challenge when it came to organizing a movie date with my boyfriend. So in relation to Torsten Hagerstrand’s social constraint theory, here’s how my movie date organisation panned out:

  • Capability: Firstly, both my boyfriend and I work during the week and weekend, so actually planning a “Day” was impossible, so we had to settle for a night during the week. Planning this around Uni assignment’s and my horse riding lessons we settled on a Wednesday night (I had a riding competition early Saturday morning.) This was a night that suited both of us and it was agreed upon. The only session times for Wednesday night to see (much to my dismay) The Expendables 3, were 12pm and 6:55pm so we settled on the later time as I suited us both.
  • Coupling: Since my boyfriend lives in Bowral and live 15 minutes away in Berrima he decided that in order for me to get there on time that he would come early and pick me up and drive us both there. Timing wasn’t a real issue in the organization process as Thursday night was free and the cinema is only 15 minutes away.
  • Authority: As both of our schedules were open for that night, we didn’t have anywhere else to be that took priority so it’s safe to say we were more than entitled to be there.

As for during the movie itself, the cinema wasn’t exactly packed to the brim, there were around 15-20 people there. The audience was made up predominately male viewers (shock) and they were mostly around the 20-30 year old mark from what I observed. During the movie (which I may have fallen asleep in for about 20 minutes, woops) the audience was mostly quiet and respectful, occasionally someone would converse with their friends which was a bit annoying during the quieter parts of the movie. There was a lot of packet crunching and drink slurping, which is to be expected in a cinema full of men (sorry guys). We ended up sitting in middle section of the smallish cinema as I’m a little short sighted and so is my boyfriend and this made it easier on our eyes. On the whole, the movie was… alright, I’m not that into action movies with a lot of violence and guns and what not but it had it’s funny moments and my boyfriend enjoyed it a lot!

With the ever popular rise of online movie streaming, its debatable what will eventuate in the popularity of going to the cinema to see the latest box office releases. Coupled with new technologies like Apple TV and Foxtel box office, there are less excuses to leave the comfort of your own lounge room to pay around $40 for two people to see a movie in a cold, public space. The social aspect of going to the movies will forever stand, in my opinion, it’s always going to be a novelty for couples, groups of friends, young families and the elderly to go to their local cinema and see the latest movies as a means of and excuse to leave the house. But without this support from local residents, I feel that local cinemas will suffer and face becoming redundant in the next 5-10 years, but I certainly hope this isn’t the case.

NBN Whaaaat?

I still remember the sound of the old, stone-age dial-up internet when I was about 5 or 6 living in suburban Balmain. I was mesmerized by the fact that I could play my Madeline computer game online instead of on a CD rom. It was magical. Fast-forward to living in Robertson in 2007 when we finally got satellite Internet which, to put in politically correct terms, was shite. It would take at least 5—10 minutes to load a web page on a good night (when my brother hadn’t used all the download space in his online gaming) and to have to go through Highschool and the HSC was just painful. Completing an Extension 2 English Major Work with peasant Internet caused me many an emotional breakdown. But not only was the Internet woeful, the mobile reception was just as unbearable. If there was ever an emergency then I don’t know what would have transpired. Not only was our satellite Internet more like a metal disc my grandpa had fashioned, we weren’t even able to apply for ADSL because it wasn’t available in our area and isn’t available still to this day.

Fear not though, for there was a light at the end of this tunnel, in 2013 my family and I moved to Berrima with, wait for it … ADSL2 lightening speed Internet with 200GB of downloads. The possibilities are endless. I can access social media, watch online lectures and stream movies in a flash. It’s amazing as to what a difference fast-internet can make to your lifestyle especially that of a Uni student. I’ve really noticed this change since having to access links and lectures and other Uni related sources online.

As I said before, our current internet plan is ADSL2 which is provided through the Telstra network and the devices we currently have in our household include: 2 mobiles on Telstra plans, 2 mobiles on prepaid plans (Optus and Telstra), 4 Ipads, 2 laptops, 1 desktop computer and 3 TV sets plus 1 Playstation 2 console. All of which are used to primarily access the Internet for social media. The only person in our family who doesn’t use any social media is my Dad, whom when I asked him about our broadband access laughed and told me he only uses the internet for checking work emails; he mainly uses the internet at work in his corporate job which involves a lot of internet usage on his mobile, Ipad and desktop. So you can understand why I struggled to extract any information from him but nonetheless I still trudged on to discover more of what my family thinks about broadband in our household. After looking at the Australian Bureau of Statistics information on household Internet usage which states that the internet usage in Australia by age shows that the 65+ age group made up only 46% of internet users from 2012-13 (I guess that’s a good enough excuse Dad, you’re off the hook). Not surprisingly the predominant age group is 15-35 year olds and the highest users being the 15-17 year olds at 97%… which brings me to my younger brother, Zac (15).

Now Zac just epitomizes the stereotypical 15-year-old Internet user; since moving from Robertson to our current home, he reckons that his personal Internet usage has at least tripled. He uses the Internet mostly for online gaming and streaming movies, closely after this comes social media and then occasionally Googling things for schoolwork (lol what’s school work). When I asked him about his opinion about the NBN he said: “What’s the NBN? Do we even get it here? I dunno. (audible grumbling) Zac also uses 5 different devices on this network that he has no idea about but still knows every single password for everything in the existence of our house that has an on button. He then proceeded to share this video on “Social Meowdia” with me and left the room.

I then decided to ask my Mum about her thoughts on her Internet access and usage (right after she’d streamed the live feed of the World Equestrian Games from our laptop through the TV- yeah she’s going places in the Internet world) she said that the best thing about internet usage for her, was connecting with her friends and relatives via Facebook and Email (online shopping was a close second, naturally). Mum also uses the Internet for a variety of other maintenance jobs like paying bills, Googling facts to prove the rest of the family wrong, entering horse riding competitions for me and Skyping with overseas friends. Nothing pleases my Mum more than having a conversation with 10 other women in her horse-training group whilst sitting with the rest of us on our devices having conversations with other people or doing assignments (sometimes) and if someone were to walk in the room and switch the TV off none of us would notice because we’re all so enthralled in our devices. Not dissimilar to Sherry Turkle’s description of being “alone together”. Its really the icing on the cake when mum starts a conversation with me online in the process of talking to all these other people whilst sitting next to me on the couch.

The fact that neither Zac nor myself knew very little to nothing about the NBN really speaks volumes about the vague nature of the advertising and explanations from the Government of what this amazing venture to provide everyone in Australia with first class internet access. Well, to put things into perspective, despite the fantastic Internet where we currently are, we still aren’t scheduled or even considered to get the NBN in the near future. So what’s all the hype about? Unless I move to a house where the NBN is connected I may never know… and I’m surprisingly content with that.

Facebook is stalking me and the rest of it’s users.

When I think about the ways in which audiences are being measured or recorded, I’m immediately reminded of my own experience with the several forms of advertising on my Facebook homepage, clearly tailored to appeal to my likes and interests. Facebook has approximately 950 million users and counting

and who are being subjected to personalized and targeted advertising to draw their attention. Clearly an audience of such a size has proven to be a massive success for Facebook since advertising was introduced to user’s homepages in 2011. By using information from a user’s previous web searches, advertisements that relate to their searches will appear on their Facebook newsfeed without them knowing why or how.

There was a particular instance one day when I was scrolling through my newsfeed where an add popped up for The Iconic’s website with three pictures of their women’s clothing. These pictures were the exact garments that I had searched and clicked on the day before when I was on The Iconic’s website! This obviously freaked me out when I realized that the Internet is watching my every single move and is now trying to send me subliminal messages to buy products that I know or don’t need or can afford right now.

This is a clear example of just how successful/important audience profiling and measuring can be. It can play a strategic role in determining just what Facebook users want or in the same respect don’t want, (no I do not want to try your “new fitness trend that is used by models and celebrities!”) all the while Facebook makes a profit from these advertisements directed at Facebook users.

Whilst most might argue that this form of audience measurement in relation to Facebook advertising is successful, it hasn’t always been the case. Google still has more success with it’s advertising in regards to the revenue it gains than that of Facebook. Here’s a little comparison of how Google uses advertising as opposed to Facebook. Which leads me to wonder why then if the majority of these ads aren’t effective, are they still being displayed on my newsfeed if I’m not so inclined to act upon seeing them? Perhaps the subliminal messages that they’re sending me do perhaps lead to a future purchase as a result of them popping up on my news feed and I’m just not consciously aware of it.

References:

Occam’s Razor. 2012. Facebook Advertising / Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/facebook-advertising-marketing-best-metrics-roi-business-value/. [Accessed 17 August 14].

Mashable. 2011. Facebook’s New Advertising Strategy Is Brilliant and Unexpected. [ONLINE] Available at: http://mashable.com/2011/10/03/facebook-ad-strategy/. [Accessed 17 August 14].