Monthly Archives: April 2012

Week of April 23: Video Games

This week we discussed the complex, interesting world of video games.

We started off with a quick look back at product placement in TV with this crazy clip from “Hawaii Five-O.”

We experienced the emotional ups and downs of “Pong.” We laughed, we cried.

William Shatner told us about playing World of Warcraft during our discussion of MMORPGs.

We learned about the potential for serious games and games for causes beyond just simple entertainment, like SuperBetter, designed to help players reach health-related and other personal goals. In the video below, Jane McGonigal discussed why she developed the game, and a player describes her experience with it.

We talked about recent trends in video game technology, including augmented reality games and EEG/brain-controlled games, each shown in the videos below.

Finally, we played around with the idea of games that could solve social problems or other real-world challenges, like Catalyze4Change. We didn’t have time to watch McGonigal’s TED talk on this topic in class, but you can check it out below.

How will your media use change the world? :-)

Week of April 16: Movies and an Exam!

We finished up our discussion of TV and movies today, just in time for them to be covered on your exam on Wednesday. :-)

Here are the videos we watched in class.

The Lumiere Brothers’ “Arrival of a Train”

J.J. Abrams’ “mystery box” talk at TED

Enjoy! See you Wednesday for the exam.

Exam 2 Study Resources


I’ve created a study guide for you for Exam 2 on Wednesday, April 18. Click on the link to see/download the Google Doc or just read it below.

Remember that you can also use the website created by Pearson, your textbook’s publisher, to review for the exam. As I said for Exam 1, remember that not everything on the exam is mentioned on the Pearson website, and topics are covered in the textbook that will not be on the exam, so be sure to use the study guide as your main guidance for your review.

Good luck!

Week of April 9: Guest Speaker and TV

We were fortunate this week to have as our Skype guest Jason Samuels of CNN and NYU. He spoke to us about his work on the documentary “Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley.” Here’s one clip from a CNN blog that explores some of the issues addressed in the documentary:

Jason mentioned during his talk with us that there was some controversy following the documentary about comments made by Michael Arrington. Here’s Soledad O’Brien’s blog post about Arrington’s response, and you can read his own blog post as well.

We so appreciate that Jason took the time to talk with our class. You can keep up with him on Twitter.

We also finished up our discussion of radio this week, and the remaining materials for that topic are in the previous post.

Some of you were curious about the technical details of Arbitron’s Personal People Meter encoding and reception. I found this site that explains how it all works:

It is based on the science of “psychoacoustic masking,” which, simply explained, makes it possible to “hide” tiny bits of sound energy in the normal audio output of electronic media signals. This added sound energy creates a “fingerprint” which corresponds to a specific series of digits—this is the “code” in audio encoding—which in turn identify the specific source of the encoded signal. While present in the audio stream, the embedded code cannot be heard.

The encoding technology is paired with decoding technology that searches out and recognizes the inaudible code in the audio output. This decoding system was developed by Arbitron with the assistance of Lockheed Martin, a major U.S. defense contractor having extensive experience in antisubmarine warfare systems. The decoder uses a computerized DSP (digital signal processor) to search out and identify the specific numeric code—and thus the signal source—of audio programs encoded using the Arbitron encoder.

Pretty cool!

This week, we also began our discussion of TV and movies. Here’s the infographic I shared with you about “The Digital Living Room.”

INFOGRAPHIC: Welcome to the Digital Living Room: How is the TV Landscape Changing?

Next week, we’ll finish talking about TV and also examine the movie industry…and have an exam! I’ll post the study guide soon.

Week of April 2: News and Sound Media

Welcome back from Spring Break! We’ve had a good, busy week of discussions about news, the role of the media in our democracy, and the radio and music industries.

During our discussion of news, we did an activity to demonstrate to you firsthand the constructed nature of news. I showed you a front page from The Oregonian that you worked to fill with the news you thought most important. That front page came from Today’s Front Pages, which daily posts PDFs of newspaper front pages from around the world. If you like to follow the news, it’s a fun way to see how different news organizations decide to cover similar stories — especially around major world events.

We also watched this brief TED talk by Alisa Miller that reveals the U.S.-centric nature of our news.

We looked at the flow of information through social media and questioned whether a “social media effect” might be supplementing or replacing the “CNN effect” that has been observed in the past with regard to bringing the public’s attention to major world events. You can read more about the analysis of the spread of the Kony 2012 campaign that we examined.

This video from the documentary “Outfoxed” demonstrates a weakness of some news coverage that fails to attribute information and opinions to specific sources, leading to a limited “frame” of the events that are being reported.

During our class discussion of the music industry, we didn’t have time to watch all of the relevant videos because we also needed time to prepare for our guest speaker. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out these clips, which will expand and deepen your knowledge of the topics we discussed.

This video addresses the role of the major music companies in determining which music becomes popular.

If you’re very interested in the music business, this long video explains a great deal about the role of A&R in the industry. The entire series from this channel on YouTube will be useful for those of you who want to get into music.

If you’d like to learn more about FDR’s Fireside Chats, they’re all online for your reading and/or listening pleasure.

You can learn more about the radio industry and its use of Arbitron data to refine radio content by perusing Arbitron’s own site and reports.

And, finally, we learned about the growing role of mobile music apps and the competition they present for traditional radio, as demonstrated in this video:

Next week, we’ll have a special Skype guest speaker from CNN, and will look at the television industry in more detail.