From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – What, Culture?

Another week of preparing for the end of term has left me short on time – luckily there is still more to go back to from this original series on the misunderstood art of professional wrestling.  Previously we sat down with an actual, real life, wrestling machine – O’Shay Edwards – for a look at the life of a wrestler as well as touching on the physical and mental commitments and sacrifices that are made by performers. If you haven’t had a chance to read those earlier parts I would strongly recommend them as they are each a literary delight before tackling part 5 of this gripping tale of intrigue and romance.

So far the majority of this series has been looking at things from a wrestlers perspective and trying to break it down for better insight. What has been overlooked, and what will be touched on now, is the way in which the wrestling industry has influenced a sort of sub-culture in the modern world. A place where, thanks to social media, wrestling fans and pundits alike come to pay tribute to the sport they love in many different ways.

As the popularity of wrestling grew through the late 90’s it reached cult status, establishing the careers of many modern day film actors, most notable the likes of The Rock and John Cena. But it wasn’t always wrestlers becoming actors. In fact in 2000 Actor David Arquette became the WCW World Champion in what can only be described as a piece of sheer booking genius from then head booker Vince Russo – the man famous for making everything infinitely better by putting it on a pole.

It was around this time that wrestling and music also began to go hand in hand. Yes, I know Cyndi Lauper was at the first Wrestlemania, but this is more than that – and no I’m not talking about the Macho Man’s foray into rap either (which is pure brilliance if you haven’t already heard it). The surge in popularity of hard rock/post-grunge/nu-metal music saw bands that would not normally get the time of day thrust into the spotlight and if you were to quiz most modern day wrestling fans on the likes of Cold, Drowning Pool and Limp Bizkit they would be able to tell you that in 2002 they were all close personal friends of Tazz.

Moving away from the main stream influence in modern pop-culture professional wrestling has also created a brilliant and beautiful virtual world – sometimes even more misunderstood than wrestling itself. “eFedding”, another term for online roleplaying games based around the sport of professional wrestling, has grown massively as a hobby over the last 20 years from chains of emails, to MSN message boards and into the present day with social media (there are entire rosters worth of characters constantly tearing into one another on Twitter). The attention to detail shown by some roleplayers, or “fedders”, is immense and there are often people outside of the hobbies inner sanctum who mistake them for real people. A more in depth analysis of this subculture can be found here in the essay An Exploration of Social Gaming.

All of these things, be it films, music or games, bring millions of people together every day and unite them with one common trait; a love of wrestling. Whether it is loved or hated the wrestling industry as a whole is a global phenomenon – second only to sports like football (soccer for you Americans) and boxing for global popularity and viewership – and deserves to be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 31st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

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From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The View From Inside

And then there were three! Past the halfway mark and ready to go again with another insightful and informative look at the world of professional wrestling. So far in this series we have identified some of the physical and mental challenges faced by the men and women who go out night after night in bars, clubs, halls and arenas worldwide to put on a show as well as some of the stigma that is associated with being a wrestling fan. As always if you have missed any of the previous three parts we will take a moment now to wait for you to go back, catch up and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

In part 4 (that’s this one) we are going to be looking at some of what life as a wrestler is all about – courtesy of an exclusive interview with American Premier Wrestling’s O’Shay Edwards – and go over some of the points that we have touched on already with someone who has experienced them first hand.

How long have you been wrestling and how long did you train before you debuted?

I have been training since February of 2016 with my first show coming in April.

Whereabouts can we find you working in the ring?

I’m currently being booked for American Premier Wrestling, which has produced its first NXT product (Macey Estrella) and I’m currently in talks with LaGrange Championship Wrestling to start working for them too. I’m excited to see what happens.

How often do you train now – both in ring and general fitness?

It depends on how often I can actually get in the ring. If I can get in the ring 2 times a week I’m usually in the gym one day a week. If I can get into the ring 1 time a week I’m in the gym 2 times a week. What if I can’t get there anytime that week? Then I usually spend 3 days out of the week in the gym.

Do you use your own name, or a character/gimmick name, and if so does your character differ much from your real self?

No, I don’t use my own name. My gimmick name kinda happened on the fly but personality wise I don’t differ much. Its just myself ramped up to a 1000%.

 

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve worked for? Likewise, what’s the smallest crowd you’ve worked for?

The smallest crowd was about 50 or 60 people. The largest crowd so far has been a little over 200. The goal is one day to wrestle in front of a thousand plus people.

Furthest you’ve travelled for a show?

The farthest ever was about 3 hours from Atlanta to Statesboro Georgia.

Do you have a favourite opponent?

So far my favorite match has been wrestling against Iron Man.

Have you taken any bad bumps or botches that have legitimately hurt you, serious injuries etc?

Ironically enough while wrestling Iron Man I took a punch and it landed right above my right eye. It busted open and I bled all over place but we had the match of the night.

Finally, what do you do when you’re not wrestling?

I’m a full-time Firefighter in Atlanta.

We would like to sincerely thank O’Shay for taking the time to talk to us and answer our questions. Be sure to check him out, and the rest of APW, if you are in Georgia and you have the chance.

Hopefully this interview has given you some good insights into the life of a professional wrestler and will serve as a reminder that you should always be respectful to the talent – regardless of whether you may like the character or not – because, in this case at least, if you live around Atlanta a few boos and a nasty tweet could see your cat stuck up that tree for a little bit longer.


This piece was originally published on May 16th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Hard Road

Who would’ve thought that we would be back here again, eager as beavers for part 3 of our wrestling extravaganza? Well, I would’ve (because I’m contractually obligated to be here) but you are here of your own volition and I must say that is very much appreciated.

In case you new to the blog, and this series in particular, previously in parts one and two we have touched on the stigma that is sometimes associated with the professional wrestling community as a whole and the physical side of the business that is often discredited as being fake – but what about the mental challenges that are faced by male and female wrestlers all over the world.

Right now, as you read these words, there are literally thousands of professional wrestlers around the globe waking up or going to sleep in a cheap motel somewhere, thousands of miles away from their families. Ordinary people, who like the other 99% have a job that they get out of bed for – the only difference being that they don’t have the luxury of sitting behind a desk for eight hours and then clocking out and going home to the wife and kids, sitting around the table for a decent home cooked meal and hearing about how little Timmy’s football match went. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Dance Recitals, Dentists appointments, so many different activities – seemingly ordinary to the rest of us – are missed because they have to work a schedule as mentally gruelling as it is physical.

Now, and I can already hear you saying it, they get paid stupid amounts of money to do that and to an extent I would agree. If we were talking about the guys and girls working the big contracts in the big companies to put on the big shows it cannot be denied that, while facing these challenges, they are duly rewarded. But what about the rest?

Like everything in life (and here’s where we digress into politics a little bit) wrestling is like capitalism. The people at the top get all of the money and the guys trying to climb up that pyramid – well let’s just say that they don’t quite get as much. Now to put this in perspective wrestling doesn’t really differ from any other sports; you wouldn’t pay Tom Brady the same money as a rookie kicker fresh out of college. It’s just the way of the world. The guys who generate the revenue and make the franchises are rewarded accordingly with big money deals – but it has to be noted that before they were the big money guys, they were the same ones who were sleeping in dives and clocking up hundreds of miles or catching a red eye flight to another country just to try and get their little suckle on the golden teat.

If we are to look at this objectively – the main reason they do it (as naïve as it may sound) is for the fans. Without the people turning up and paying in to watch them they could be the greatest wrestlers in the world – they still wouldn’t make it. Obviously there are other factors, personal motivation and competitive drive being big ones, but you would be hard pressed to find any man or woman around who would be motivated to succeed when they are spending their birthday away from their partner and children.

Sadly the overzealous outsider, or the casual fan, often overlooks these challenges. Turning on their TV and instead of seeing a person doing their job they see a character they don’t like. So instead of appreciating that person’s hard work they throw a brick at their screen, refuse to watch until something is done about them and tweet them death threats. It’s this kind of abhorrent, short sighted attitude that creates problems for other fans and wrestlers alike. It needs to be remembered that while you can buy in to kayfabe, the characters and their stories, off screen they are ordinary people just like the rest of us – and they should be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – Back With a Vengeance

Here we stand back on the front line, trying to to make the world a better place by eradicating ignorance and informing the uninformed. In case you missed the first part in the series it would be my strong recommendation you go back and give it a look (and not just because I wrote it). Once you’ve done that meet us back here to regroup. It’s fine – we will wait.

Honestly, take your time.

Are you ready?

Excellent, now, to finish this anecdote we will have to go back to the year 2001. It was an eventful year for many reasons; the great Sir Donald Bradman passed away aged 92, the Socceroos claimed third place at the Confederations Cup beating both France and Brazil and, most importantly, 10 year old me was taken into a Dymocks bookshop by his mother and told he could pick any book he wanted. I’m sure she was expecting me to come back with a stupid joke book or something similar – which was more of my style at the time – but not on this occasion. Instead something caught my eye on the bottom shelf on the farthest wall of the shop. After a little bit of persuading I left that book shop with my very own copy of Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks – the 544 page epic story of legendary wrestler Mick Foley – and I never looked back.

This was the first real insight I had into the world of wrestling and I fell in love with it instantly. The raw emotion in Foley’s words and twisted humour that he worked into his stories made it a more than memorable experience from start to finish and I still remember carrying it around with me, recounting passages to anyone who would listen. To this day I still have the same copy, though the last 15 years has left it seeing better days. Foley’s insightfully graphic accounts of the injuries he suffered, from the famous ear incident with Vader, to the infamous Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker (most of which Mick himself didn’t remember – unsurprisingly) it showed a young wrestling fan how much punishment these competitors put themselves through and how hard they worked to get to where they were. One particular passage that stuck with me was when Foley went to see a doctor about a scan on his back – the doctor told him what he had to and asked if he had any questions – to which Foley replied he was worried about the colour of one of his discs. It was white, while all of the others were grey. The doctor explained that they were supposed to be white and that the grey colouring was from the constant physical toll that wrestling was taking on his body.

How does this finish off the anecdote from Part One? I’m glad you asked. This is one of the many stories that I used to explain my love for the wrestling industry and to justify the risks that these men and women take on a nightly basis. Some people struggle to appreciate the lengths that competitors go to – often wrestling multiple times a week – for nothing more than the entertainment of the fans and their own personal enjoyment. Professional wrestling may be a scripted story with a predetermined result but by no means can anyone say that what those men and women do is fake in any way.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – An Introduction

Professional wrestling. Just the mention of those two little words can divide an entire room full of people. Whether it’s right down the middle or all against one nothing seems to divide opinion as much as wrestling. If you are out on the lash with a bunch of lads and someone says, “did you catch the fight last week?” chances are they are not talking about the Intercontinental Championship match on Monday Night Raw. The inspiration for this blog, and the series of posts that will follow in the Introduction to Wrestling series, was inspired by a situation much the same as this one.

Before I start I will go on the record as saying I do not watch as much wrestling as I probably should (or at least think that I should). I keep up to date mostly with dirt sheets and Twitter and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse – though I’m not going to pretend like I’ve heard of your favourite wrestler from the Independent circuit in Guam. The majority of my actual watching is done via the WWE Network, which essentially means I watch NXT once a week and the monthly Pay-Per-Views.

This is where our story begins.

It was sometime during the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, a brisk Saturday evening, and a handful of friends had called around for drinks. I thought to myself, excellent, we could have a few cans and once the wrestling starts throw it on and have a bit of a laugh. Everything was going to plan; until 10 minutes before the show. Someone looks at me and goes, “Will we have a game of FIFA?” Ordinarily I would jump at the chance to have a few games of PlayStation with someone, especially a visitor in my own home (it would be rude not to), however on this particular occasion I said, “No, I want to watch the wrestling.”

Silence.

Everyone looked around, not really knowing what to say, as I tried to brush it off and get the show on the road. The show started – Roadblock for those of you playing along at home – and as the girls continued to talk amongst themselves, the last man standing (apart from myself) proceeded to grill me.

“Why do you watch this? You know it’s fake, right?”

“Isn’t it a bit gay watching oiled up guys pretend to fight in their underwear?”

“UFC is much better than this shite.”

These were just some of the comments that I remember from that conversation and, while I have been enduring jibes like this since I was about 9 years old, I just couldn’t help myself. I ended up going in to bat for wrestling and its fans everywhere – and that was when it hit me. Is it wrestling that is the problem or is it just a misunderstood art form that people outside of its warming glow don’t understand?

Which brings us here. It was this interaction, for the thousandth time, that was my inspiration to write this piece. Over the coming 5 weeks I intend to go over the wrestling industry in depth, not from the tunnel visioned stand point of a mark – replying angrily to comments on a Facebook post “IT’S STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT!” – but from a rational and educational stand point. Giving insight and understanding with facts rather than opinions and, hopefully, creating something that will be able to help wrestling fans everywhere. Whether that is by expanding their own knowledge or giving them something to show to their non-wrestling friends the next time one of them says, “You do know that’s fake, right?”


This piece was originally published on May 1st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

Lord of the Design Principles: Effective Design to Create an Iconic Image

Throughout earlier posts here we have explored the mediums of design and film. This piece aims to combine the two by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of design principles used on some of the promotional material from the Lord of the Rings film franchise. Analysis of these strengths and weaknesses will be achieved by exploring the three designs – pictured below – with direct application of specific design principles as outlined by Lidwell, Holden and Butler in Universal principles of design: 125 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design (2010). By reflecting on the composition of the chosen designs, with reference to these principles, this post will seek to provide insight into the importance and benefits of the application of relevant design principles.

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The Lord of the Rings promotional material (New Line Cinema, n.d.)

When considering design in any form in any field there are several basic functions that must be met to ensure its success. By this end the most important design principle outlined by Lidwell et al. (2010) in Universal Principles of Design is the hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy itself consists of five equally important levels – starting at the bottom with low-level basic needs, moving through the chain to the highest level at which point, assuming a design reaches it, all five levels have been successfully addressed where necessary. The highest level on the hierarchy of needs, creativity, is where a design can be seen to cover all other levels and inspire an audience to interact with it in different ways (Lidwell et al. 2010, p. 124). Such was the success and popularity of the design, and the franchise in which it was apart, it has become part of a loyal cult following and can be seen referenced in various online circles. An example of the creativity inspired by the chosen design can be seen in the image below which combines the original design with content from Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad universe – an entirely unrelated franchise.

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Lord of the Dings (Redbubble, n.d.)

The consistent form of the posters over the life of the franchise is one of the biggest strengths of the Lord of the Rings promotional material. Lidwell et al. (2010) describes aesthetic consistency as enhancing recognition, communicating membership and setting emotional expectations. Given the cult like following of the Lord of the Rings franchise the design does well to maintain it’s form over the course of three films using the same logo font, similar colour schemes and layouts. Given the periods of time between each films release the use of consistency was an effective means to both create a recognisable brand and reinforce to the individual the previous instalments and attempt to have them participate in seeking out and watching the new film – ultimately achieving the key target of a promotional advertising tool.

This example of aesthetic consistency can also be characterised as internal consistency by reinforcing the theory of Lidwell et al. (2010 p. 56) that, “Within any logical grouping elements should be aesthetically and functionally consistent with one another”. This shows the intention of the designer in working to the strengths of consistency to ensure that the brand that they created would be easily recognisable. By actively planning and solidly grounding a recurring design, and ensuring that over a long period of time they remain compliant with both the hierarchy of needs and display a high level of consistency, designers can achieve great success and contribute to the building a cult following from their audience with their work.

While the application of the aforementioned design principles are positive there are still noticeable weaknesses with this, and for that matter any, design. Like all great works of art something as subjective as visual communication can have thousands of varying interpretations – based solely on the understanding of the viewer. Nothing is perfect and, in this case, one identifiable weakness of the basic image and text-based design is the lack of physical interaction and limited capacity for audience engagement. At the time of the franchises release social media was in its infancy and, as can be seen on the posters, websites were included to further promote the films which shows that interactivity had been considered. With the birth of the digital age this weakness has been combated by strategic teams of marketing experts come designers who include external contact points, links and hashtags to drive the audience into immersing themselves in the content.

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An example of an interactive film advertisement (Creativebloq.com, n.d.)

While having found strengths and weaknesses in the application of both the hierarchy of needs and the overall consistency perhaps the most effective technique used, and therefor the biggest strength of the chosen design, is the use of Iconic Representation. The use of symbolic icons, in this case the main characters and themes of the films, does well to convey the key parts in the feature to the audience and is a great marker of the intent of the designer to make their creations transcend cultures and appeal to the widest possible target audience.

The only underlying weakness of Iconic Representation is that to those who are unfamiliar with the target of the design, in this case the franchise and actors, they may not be able to make the connection and as a result may not be as impacted by the purpose of the design as others. Fortunately for the designers this weakness is instantaneously offset by the design itself as, even if the audience is not familiar with the subject on first inspection, once they have seen it and are able to make a connection the knowledge gap is already starting to be bridged and if they are intrigued the design provides enough information that they can investigate things further if they so choose.

The quality of examples presented in this analysis show how, when utilised appropriately and executed to a high standard, the influence of design principles can enhance an entire global franchise. The benefits of the application of relevant design theory when building a project are not only limited to a high quality end product but also in contributing to future designs by others. Something that the Lord of the Rings franchise has been able to achieve and why its artwork remains so iconic near 15 years after the release of the final film.

 

The Internet – An ideal public sphere?

The aim of this post is to explore and discuss the concept of the Internet as an ideal public sphere – defined by Holub (1991, p.3) as, “…a realm in which individuals gather to participate in open discussions. Potentially, everyone has access to it. No one enters in discourse… with an advantage over another”. Over the years the interpretation has changed and, when considering the internet in the current converging media landscape,  a more appropriate, modern definition can be taken from Gimmler (2001, p. 22), “…(the public sphere is) an arena of political and social relations, a field where individual and collective identities both are expressed and become integrated”. To effectively discuss and critically analyse both sides of this argument this post will; discuss the Internet as a public sphere and how individuals have the ability to fairly and equally contribute, analyse globalisation and the impact of convergence on the individuals experience within this public sphere and explore the nature of individuals behaviour when participating in the public sphere. This analysis will be supported by various readings, most notably Australia’s Foray into Internet Censorship (Bambauer 2009), Media and Globalisation: Why the State Matters (Morris 2001) as well as the previously cited definitions from Holub and Gimmler and will seek to provide an informative and balanced response to the concept of the Internet as an ideal public sphere and to further expand on the ideas presented.

When considering the Internet as a public sphere on Holub’s (1991, p.3) terms it is, in theory, an ideal public sphere where individuals gather for open discussion. Each participant has the chance to engage actively, fairly and equally. In a nutshell this is what the Internet is all about and, at least on face value, it can be accepted as such. However when the surface is scratched it quickly becomes apparent that there is more complexity to the debate and that, like in most public spheres, the influence of power and politics rules over the power of the people. Like any place of social interaction there is a hierarchy that must be observed when utilising the Internet for communication. Moderators, be they state appointed government officials tasked with reviewing data usage for criminal activities (Bambauer 2009) or an overseer on a forum appointed by a developer, are constantly reviewing and remedying any manner of changes made to the internet. While an offensive post on a forum may not carry the same weight of penalty as an international terrorist plot the notion that one member of a society has the authority to dictate to another, with no real qualifications other than a state appointed title, shows already a level of inequality moving into the public sphere. When analysing the public sphere in this way then it almost becomes directly comparable to communism – whereby on paper everyone is equal and treated the same – until it comes into practice. To borrow a quote from Orwell (1945), “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” a fitting description of both the public sphere in general as well as the vast expanses of the Internet.

Perhaps a more appropriate example of participation without being able to participate within the mediasphere would be the rise of qualified radio broadcasters post World War One (Sterling 2012, p. 224). Despite having all the knowledge and skills required to operate a radio from their military training without the appropriate equipment to transmit they were incapable of participating in the broadcast culture of the time. As mentioned in previous articles this broadcast culture was a precursor to the participatory culture of modern times and the ability to create content and share it with others via radio is directly comparable to  bloggers and designers creating online content now. Based on this it can be assumed that, had everyone then had access to the radio waves in the same way the developed world has access to the Internet, participation rates would have been higher. Instead, much like the modern day broadcasters of the Internet, there was impediments and prejudices in between content creators and the public sphere. This shows that throughout history, even when there have been individuals more than capable of participating fairly and equally in the public sphere, the ingrained culture and self imposed hierarchy of our class society influences how they can and gives advantages to those who may not necessarily be deserving of them.

Further to the ability to participate equally and without prejudice on an individual level the convergent media landscape has further impacted upon the way the Internet can be viewed as an ideal public sphere. In the converging media landscape that is the Internet (Australian Communications and Media Authority 2012) the lasting effects of corporate globalisation can be seen everywhere. Paid advertising and product placement is rife throughout the World Wide Web and there are few websites that can be visited without a suggestion or a pop up trying to sell something. (Williams et. al. 2011). To say that the Internet has been affected by globalisation is only a half-truth – the Internet has done more than its fair share to help with Globalisation since the dawn of the new millennium (Morris 2001) – but regardless of this the corporate influence over the online world cannot be understated. Considering this it then becomes apparent that not all individuals coming together in the public sphere are doing so for open discussion with some preferring to exploit the ability to monetise the system and use it to generate profit. As soon as money enters the discussion the equality of individuals is compromised – separating them instead by class and their ability to pay – as opposed to giving them an open forum with equal voice.

As the Internet has slowly become saturated with offshoots of traditional mainstream broadcast and print media the online sector has shifted from an open world forum for information sharing (Jenkins 2006) to a viable marketplace where profits can not only be made but added to the already established stream of content coming from the media industry. This not only means more content for independent collaborators to compete with but also content tailored specifically for the interests and needs of the individual browser. GPS and other location services use individuals search histories and recorded interests to supply things like recommended search results, tailored advertising and product placement (Tentacle Inbound 2016). This not only furthers the advantage of those who are financially invested but also removes the possibility of an individual having an authentic browsing experience – complete without any prejudices – which should be the intention in an ideal public sphere.

The environment and the surroundings of individuals when using the Internet can only be accountable for so much. The behaviour of the individuals online, much like the behaviour of the individual in any public sphere, impacts not only their own experience but also the experiences of those around them. This can then have an adverse effect on how the Internet is viewed as an ideal public sphere. Unlike an ideal public sphere not everyone who accesses the Internet does so with the intention of participating in open discussion (Buckels, Trapnell & Paulhus 2014). By gathering together in groups and sharing a common cause for causing mischief and social unrest the individuals who partake in the public sphere in this manner go against the nature of allowing everyone to a fair and balanced discussion.

This is not to say that everyone who enters the public spheres discourse does so with the explicit intention of causing trouble, nor do they do it with sinister motivations, however it is a harsh reality that not everyone can co-exist harmoniously when interacting in a social environment (Buckels, Trapnell & Paulhus 2014). With the help of the Internet the sinister intentions of individuals can be projected further and with more impact than ever before. State controlled security and data retention may not be popular among the moral majority (Dempster 2015), not to mention the feelings held by some individuals towards the moderators of this, but the effectiveness of using this information to protect the greater society outweighs – in the majority of cases – the illusion of freedom of speech in which Internet users like to revel. It becomes a case then of what is better for the greater good and, given Gimmler’s (2001) opinion on political influence over the public sphere, it once again becomes a point of using the sphere to the advantage of the elite.

Through critical analysis and discussion of the concept of the Internet as an ideal public sphere it can be seen that there are strong points both for and against. Utilising the definitions of the scholars Holub and Gimmler it can be ascertained that on the surface, as stated by Holub, that the Internet satisfies the criteria presented as an ideal public sphere. Upon further analysis it becomes apparent then that, as raised by Gimmler, there are deeper motivations – be they personal or political – when exploring the public sphere and, approaching the discussion from this position, there are areas where the Internets discourse can be less than ideal. The key point of contention then becomes the application of not only these definitions, but the application of the term ‘ideal’ and the position taken by those who will take this discussion further into the future.

References

Australian Communications and Media Authority 2012, ‘Broken Concepts’, ACMA.gov.au, <http://www.acma.gov.au/~/media/Office%20of%20the%20Chair/Information/pdf/ACMA_BrokenConcepts_Final_29Aug1%20pdf.pdf&gt;

Bambauer, D 2009, ‘Filtering in Oz: Australia’s Foray into Internet Censorship’, Journal of International Law, vol. 31, no. 2.

British Broadcasting Corporation 2015, ‘Internet used by 3.2 billion people in 2015’, May 26, <http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32884867>

Buckels, E, Trapnell, P and Paulhus, D 2014, ‘Trolls just want to have fun’. Personality and individual Differences, 67, pp.97-102.

Dempster , Q 2015, ‘Data retention and the end of Australians’ digital privacy’, August 29, <http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/data-retention-and-the-end-of-australians-digital-privacy-20150827-gj96kq.html>

Gimmler, A 2001, Deliberative democracy, the public sphere and the internet, Philosophy & Social Criticism, Vol. 27, Issue 4, p. 21-39.

Holub, R 1991, Jurgen Habermas: Critic in the Public Sphere, Routledge, New York, NY

Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, NYU Press, New York, NY

Morris, N 2001, Media and Globalization: Why the State Matters, Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland

Orwell, G 1945, Animal Farm, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York

Sterling, C 2012, ‘Radio Broadcasting’ in Simonson, Peck, Craig & Jackson (eds), The Handbook of Communication History, Taylor & Francis, New York: NY.

Tentacle Inbound 2016, ‘The Complex Web of Personalised Search’, <http://tentacleinbound.com/articles/personalized-search>

Williams, K, Petrosky, A, Hernandez, E & Page Jr, R 2011, ‘Product placement effectiveness: revisited and renewed’, Journal of Management and Marketing research, 7, p.1, < http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10712.pdf&gt;

 

Exploring the Participatory Culture

Media and its consumption has evolved down the years from a traditional broadcast culture to what has been dubbed in modern times as a participatory culture. Unlike the traditional broadcast culture of old – government or commercial organisation approved and/or distributed sources of media transmission, such as network radio and television shows – a participatory culture is. “…a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices.” (Jenkins 2006, p. 5) This piece will look to explore participatory culture with respect to the progression of key media and communication technologies and by; identifying factors that gave rise to the introduction and diffusion of these innovations, as well as the impact that these technologies have had on society, and how this has influenced the cultural progression.

The explosion of media production and distribution in the 20th century catapulted society into the future in a way that could not have been predicted at the time (Randle 2001). With the invention and mainstream distribution of radio, the television and the mobile phone these three inventions, while all different in their nature, were able to create three very similar cultures by which they would come to be identified. The first major milestone in modern media came with the radio, a transmitting device which not only changed the way people were able to consume media, but also how they could communicate – particularly those in the armed forces (Sterling 2012). Military use would come to be seen as a recurring theme in the development of media technologies, at least in their infancy, as it was war again – this time the Cold War – that would spur the popularity and mainstream exposure of the television (The Paley Center for Media 2016).

Although chronologically both the Internet and computers were being developed around the same time as the television for the purpose of this essay they will be referred to as the last instalment in the trifecta of communication technologies that shaped the culture of media as they did not become part of the mainstream media culture until the internet was publicised in 1991 (Wright 2014). Another child born of the military the Internet, in its infancy at least, was used as a means of cross-country and international communications before it become the public domain world wide web of today (Leiner et al. 2016) All three of these technological creations were initially brought about and popularised amidst the fear and propaganda of war. While it may not have been the intention at the time to advance technology in the way that it would eventually the effectiveness of these inventions cannot be disputed as they have all stood the test of time.

The introduction and diffusions of these inventions, while impressive, can only tell part of the story. The inventions themselves would not have been half as successful as they were if they could not have drawn in the public, kept them captivated and constantly looking for new and exciting ways to use their devices for creative expression. This was the beginning of the era of broadcast culture. The societal impact of the radio was unparalleled by anything else of its time (Gugliotta 2007). News and current affairs, stories and radio plays and later music were all given a new medium of transmission and, thanks to the large number of radio trained military personnel who were out of work at the end of the war ham radio operators were able to give new life to the medium and utilise their skills (Sterling 2012, p. 224). Ironically, their independent broadcasts would be some of the earliest examples of participatory culture in the modern technological age.

This laid the foundations for the television to, much like its wireless predecessor, revolutionise media consumption and capture the imaginations of people the world over (Bignell 2012). The lasting effect that television would have on households can be summarised perfectly by a quote from Television journalist Andrew Anthony in his review of Joe Moran’s Armchair Nation (Moran 2013). “Moran quotes a dumbfounded Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) from Friends on learning that a new acquaintance doesn’t have a TV set: “But what does your furniture point at?” (Anthony 2013). Such was the profound influence of the television entire household areas were redesigned to make it the focus – an alteration the likes of which had likely not been seen since the introduction of a designated sleeping quarters. The next step in the natural progression of technological evolution then was the personal computer and with it the modern day smart devices, which have allowed a greater, constant connection to the virtual world around us.

Where as radio and television brought people together in physical groups, albeit as individuals experiencing the same thing together (Anthony 2013), the computer allowed groups of people to experience things simultaneously without having to leave their house – often from different states, territories and even countries. With this new level of connection and ability for social interaction came the rise of user created content and with it the notion of a participatory culture (Johnston 2016). Though the user generated content created online is no different to the independent content created by radio operators of the 1930’s the notion that it is easier to interact with and participate with makes it different from the traditional broadcast culture. The two cultures themselves have many similarities; most notably encouraging inclusion and participation amongst their subjects.

The main point of contention then becomes the ease at which modern media can be distributed online – to the point where anyone with an Internet connection now can become a content broadcaster without any real experience or training (Gates 1996). The logical reasoning behind this interpretation is that through the birth and evolution of convergence (Australian Communications and Media Authority 2012, p.5) where elements of traditional broadcast culture have been combined with new media the simplest way to categorise it within the mediasphere is by labelling it differently. Where participation then becomes the pinnacle of the mediums public interface it is only fitting that the new culture then be christened participatory.

Through critical analysis of the evolution of media consumption and broadcast culture it can be seen how society has moved from a traditional broadcast culture to the modern participatory culture. Irrespective of definitions the analysis discussion shows that while there are differences when looking at the influence of specific technological advancements there are also very strong similarities between the broadcast and participatory cultures. Both cultures encourage inclusion and, where possible, participation. The key point of difference is the ease at which media consumers can become media producers in the modern culture thanks largely in part to the ease at which media manufacturing technology can be accessed. This begs the question, had radio and television technology been more readily accessible in the 1950’s would the era of the participatory culture have begun sooner?

 

References

 Anthony, A 2013, ‘A history of television, the technology that seduced the world – and me’, 8 September, viewed 11 September 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/sep/07/history-television-seduced-the-world&gt;.

Australian Communications and Media Authority 2012, ‘Broken Concepts’, viewed 11 September 2016, <http://www.acma.gov.au/~/media/Office%20of%20the%20Chair/Information/pdf/ACMA_BrokenConcepts_Final_29Aug1%20pdf.pdf&gt;

 Bignell, J 2012, An Introduction to Television Studies, Routledge, New York: NY.

 Gates, B 1996, ‘Content is King’, viewed 11 September 2016, <http://www.craigbailey.net/content-is-king-by-bill-gates/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CraigBaileysThoughts+%28Craig+Bailey%27s+thoughts%29&gt;

Gugliotta, G 2007, ‘How Radio Changed Everything’, May 31, viewed 11 September 2016, <http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/tireless-wireless&gt;

Jenkins, H 2006, ‘Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century’, viewed 11 September 2016, <https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF&gt;

Johnston, L 2016, ‘Social News = Journalism Evolution?’, Digital Journalism, 20 April, Vol. 4, Issue 7, p. 899-909, viewed 11 September 2016, <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2016.1168709&gt;

Leiner, BM, Cerf, VG, Clark, DD, Kahn, RE, Kleinrock, L, Lynch, DC, Postel, J, Roberts LG & Wolff, S 2016, ‘Brief History of the Internet’, viewed 11 September 2016, <http://www.internetsociety.org/sites/default/files/Brief_History_of_the_Internet.pdf&gt;

Moran, J 2013, Armchair Nation, Profile Books, London United Kingdom.

The Paley Center for Media 2016, ‘Red Scare: The Cold War & Television’, viewed 11 September 2016, <https://www.paleycenter.org/education-class-red-scare-cold-war-television/&gt;

Randle, Q 2001, ‘A Historical Overview of the Effects of New Mass Media Introductions on Magazine Publishing During the 20th Century’, First Monday, 3 September, Vol. 6, Issue 9, viewed 11 September 2016, <http://firstmonday.org/article/view/885/794&gt;

Sterling, C 2012, ‘Radio Broadcasting’ in Simonson, Peck, Craig & Jackson (eds), The Handbook of Communication History, Taylor & Francis, New York: NY.

Wright, A 2014, Cataloging the World Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, Oxford University Press, Oxford