Transmedia Storytelling Case Study: The Power Inside

Transmedia Storytelling Case Study: The Power Inside

‘The Power Inside’ is the third social film in a series created by Pereria & O’Dell for Toshiba and Intel. The series, which launched in 2011 with the film ‘Inside’, has been proclaimed as ‘groundbreaking’ by Fast Company and won multiple awards.

This third installment launched August 15, 2013 with a six episode web series featuring a strong ensemble cast including Harvey Keitel. The campaign was aimed at tech-savvy Millennials and was hoping to promote Toshiba laptops that housed the Intel Core 15 Processor. Campaign assets included six ten minute webisodes featured on a sleek website, an active Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a YouTube channel. (more…)

A Defense Against the Negative Effects of Technology

A Defense Against the Negative Effects of Technology

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by Lisa Peyton

In the past, I have not been a HUGE fan of social media. I don’t spend hours a day on Facebook or any social media platform and I have often pondered how this new media will impact our psyches. My recent media psychology work has forced me to take another look at how I view digital media and how it may be effecting us. Nancy Baym’s book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, outlines a NEW way to approach digital media. Her dissection of how media is perceived by the public alerted me to my own biases and helped to hone my critical eye when reading articles on the subject.

By defining and giving examples of technological determinism (‘machines change us’), SCOT or social construction of technology (‘people have the power’) and social shaping and domestication of technology, she built a solid case defending technology from those that are fearful of its negative effects (Baym, 2010). It is historically apparent that new methods of communication have always been feared initially, until these new methods have been so widely adopted that the masses simply take them for granted.

As she outlines, the Internet is one such recent example, where in its early days many thought that it spelled the end of blissful interpersonal relationships, as husbands and wives were sucked into ‘cyberspace’ (Baym, 2010). Today, the Internet has been widely domesticated and many of its early skeptics would concede that they can’t imagine life without it.

As new means of communication and media are created, this technological determinism and its resulting rhetoric can be easily spotted on such publications as the New York Times, The Huffington Post and various other online news publications. Texting has become a modern form of communication adopted by teens and young adults and serves as a good example of this phenomenon. Headlines such as ‘Experts Agree Text Messages are Bad for Interaction and Health’ and ‘Let Your Smartphone Deliver the Bad News‘ link to articles chock full of rhetoric bemoaning the fear that texting will turn us all into flakes (Tell, 2012. New York times) or create problems in relationships and hinder activities of daily living (Simo, 2012. The Daily Journalist).

Another more recent example of this approach was published on The Verge. Their article entitled ‘Facebook isn’t making you depressed but the internet is’ , uses the same tired rhetoric. The post garnered many interesting comments, including one of my own:

I applaud your efforts to debunk the thin research citing the negative effects of Facebook. The daily show’s Jon Stewart took a few swings at the researchers himself, you can read more about that here: http://www.lisapeyton.com/jon-stewarts-satire-rightly-counters-facebook-addiction-fears/.

HOWEVER, your title BLAMING the Internet for depression is just as unfounded as blaming Facebook. The Internet use has all the same complexities surrounding usage as Facebook does. Framing the article around how digital media EFFECTS us disregards how WE effect media. We have created Facebook and the Internet because there was an unmet psychological and social need. As you say, blaming Facebook and the Internet for our psychological woes is not only scapegoating but oversimplifying an extremely complex issue.

Less easy to spot are those adopting an alternate viewpoint or one that more closely aligns with social shaping and eventual domestication of these new technologies. Despite the reactionary title of the article, (Experts Agree Text Messages are Bad for Interaction and Health), the first quoted EXPERT has a much more balanced view of texting and its potential harms. Simeon Yates, Professor of communication and technology at Sheffield Hallan University, is quoted as saying that texting is nothing new in the world of communication, “but another process of social interaction.” He continues to explain, “We did the same with the phone, or letters etc. Managing face to face is a key part of all social interaction and texting is just another medium/option available to us.”

So where then IS the expert that AGREES that texting is BAD for interaction and health? Lisa Merlo, Ph. D. in Psychiatry of University of Florida, is cited as believing that texting “can create problems in relationships.” However, this is only part what she has to say on the subject. She also is hopeful that eventually the trend of NOT interacting face to face will fade and that people will rediscover the value of in-person interactions. The article does continue on to quote other experts but by only referring to the negative comments provided, the title creates an inaccurate representation of the article’s content.

I’m excited to continue exploring public perception of new media as filtered through the lens of these framing techniques. My own beliefs and biases have been uncovered based upon Baym’s point of view. Now maybe I can help you uncover your own.

References:

Baym, N. K. (2010). Personal connections in the digital age. Cambridge, UK: Polity press.

Simo, J. O. (2012). Experts agree text messages are bad for interaction and health. thedailyjournalist.com (http://thedailyjournalist.com/theacademic/experts-say-text-messages-are-bad-for-interaction-and-health/)

Tell, C. (2012). Let your smartphone deliver the bad news. The New York Times. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/fashion/let-your-smartphone-deliver-the-bad-news.html)

Online Dating: The good, the bad and the ugly

Online Dating: The good, the bad and the ugly

by Lisa Peyton

Let me start this discussion by admitting that I was an early adopter of online dating. Over the years I have tried Match.com, eHarmony, OKCupid, Village Voice personals, AOL chat rooms and have even put ads in my local paper BEFORE there was on online version. Clearly, I have rejected any stigma that comes with meeting potential partners online. My own experiences with online dating were mostly validated and reinforced by much of the research that has been presented on this topic. (more…)

Jon Stewart's Satire Rightly Counters Facebook Fears

Jon Stewart's Satire Rightly Counters Facebook Fears

by Lisa Peyton

I am NO fan of Facebook. Despite the fact that I started a blog, FacebookAdvanced.com, dedicated to the fine platform, I don’t use it for personal communications. I would go further to say that I have even considered the platform’s amazing growth a sign of a global addiction.

After reading Baym (2010) and Giles (2010) discuss the history of media research and particularly the ‘effects’ movement, I have reconsidered this position. Scholars have historically been debating how to approach the study of media and it’s effects. Baym gives a convincing outline of the historical rhetoric that was primarily based upon fear of new innovations in communication methods (Baym, 2010). Most notably she quotes Socrates, as he warns the inventors of the ALPHABET that it would diminish memory, knowledge and wisdom.

This same type of rhetoric can be seen today in regards to social media use and Facebook. The studies of the effects of Facebook use present conflicting reports and thereby put into question the validity of the results. One of the most recent Facebook studies published in January of 2013 by Information systems scientists at the TU Darmstadt and the Humboldt-Universitat Zu Berlin, reported that Facebook use caused negative feelings and reduced life satisfaction(Buxmann, 2013). The study goes further to outline what they describe as a vicious “envy spiral” described as Facebook users embellishing their Facebook profiles, which, in turn, provokes envy among other users. The study claims that these feeling of envy experienced when viewing your Facebook friends photos, updates, etc. can cause dissatisfaction with your own life and prompted the title of the article outlining the study: ‘Facebook makes users envious and dissatisfied’.

Ironically, Jon Stewart from they Daily Show, lambasted the ‘envy’ Facebook study on the February 5th episode, presenting two valid points (Daily Show clip below, sorry for the ads!). The first was that if you get upset that your Facebook friends are happy you may be an ‘asshole’. Obviously he was making a joke, but it does allude to the fact that the personality of the user needs to be taken into account before generalizing the studies results to ALL Facebook users. The second was that the sample group were all German college students and only a third of the survey responders recorded negative feelings.

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