The Interview/Final Post

As I have previously established in my posts, my interest, which will be further examined in Assessment 2 revolves around the arrival of Netflix in Australia. The relevance and the timing of the topic were major factors in my choosing of the topic, and the group in which I was assigned chose the same topic for similar reasons. So, in this final blog post, I intend on posting a short interview which I conducted during the week with my mate Blair on Netflix and movie piracy.

 Prior to the arrival of Netflix in Australia, how did you obtain videos online?

So, before Netflix I actually did rent for quite a while, I can say that I’ve never downloaded a movie in my life, but I have been at a friend’s house where we’ve streamed movies.

Would you consider piracy as a form of theft?

It’s always in the back of my head that it’s illegal to download, but I think (that) because it’s available and everyone does it, it feels like why can’t I if everyone else is?

Do you think that the cost of seeing a movie affects the rate of people pirating?

Yeah definitely, you can stream a movie for free and yes its illegal but Australian is not as harsh on pirating as overseas for example, and a movie costs like $15, even Netflix at I think it’s around $8 a month, is so much cheaper and convenient. The mark up on movies is ridiculous and that’s why piracy is so big.

The purpose of this interview was to test possible questions for both the survey and focus group interview which will be conducted as part of a group research task. Although the questions were rather open-ended, they provided significant insight as to the mindset behind pirating. In terms of adaptation, we will have to alter the question slightly, in order for it to focus on free-to-air television and Foxtel. I also think that, for our questionnaire, our questions will have to be a lot more direct and specific.

 

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Dallas ‘Piracy’ Club

In case you haven’t heard, the producers of the film “Dallas Buyers Club” recently won a case against internet providers, iiNet and M2, who refused to identify the individuals who illegally downloaded the film. So, in light of this news, I intend on investigating the issue further by analysing the research conducted by W.D. Walls in his journal article ‘Cross- Country analysis of movie piracy’.

‘Cross country analysis of movie piracy’ is an article which is part of the 2008 ‘Applied Economics’ journal and was written by W.D. Walls, a professor at the University of Calgary. The fact that he teaches a subject concerning the economics of the movie business tells us that he is qualified to comment on this subject.  So, who exactly is this article intended for? The article is intended primarily for people interested in economics, the film industry and social behaviour, indicated by Walls (pg. 626) in the introduction section of his paper. The purpose of the paper is clearly stated in the introduction section, which is “to examine empirically movie piracy” and “increase our empirical knowledge of film piracy” Walls (pg.626, 2008). Walls uses a very formal style, evidently displayed in the reliance of quantitative data such as tables and graphs. The use of tables and graphs are used principally to interest the readers with interests in economics. The article is well organised, and is split into four labelled sections. One criticism I have for the article, is towards the research. Walls is too reliant on secondary data, and the article doesn’t appear to feature any form of primary data. Using primary data would have helped make the article more relatable for the reader. However, the neutral angle in which the article is written, is one of the better aspects of the articles. By not making a judgement on movie piracy, Walls manages to adhere to the fore mentioned purpose of the research paper.

In general, W.D Walls’ article is well-written, well-structured and informative, but is a little too reliant on the research of others, and this can isolate the reader from the topic.

References

Walls, W.D. 2008, ‘Cross- country analysis of movie piracy’, Applied Economics, vol.40, no. 5, pp. 625-632

 

 

The Importance of Research Ethics

If you look up the meaning of ‘Ethics’ on Google, you will find the following definition: “A set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct”.  So, by understanding this, we can assume that ‘research ethics’ refer to what should and shouldn’t be done whilst undertaking any form of research. So why are research ethics important? Well, simply because they prevent us from doing immoral things and possibly causing harm. The highly controversial “Stanford Experiment” in 1971 is an interesting example of the potential harm and consequences that follows unethical research.

The infamous Stanford Experiment, undertaken in 1971, revolved around a prison simulation where a group of paid students who were split into two groups: prisoners and prison wardens.  The idea of the experiment was to simply observe the changes in behaviour. Undertaken by Dr. Zimbardo, the experiment was highly criticized (and for good reason) for the sadistic behaviour and malnutrition which occurred as a result. Now, just by reading this brief summary of the experiment, we can already identify several questionable components:  What determines whether an individual is a prisoner or a warden,  how will the students’ health be affected due to living in a prison-like environment and is this experiment justified? These are concerns which didn’t appear to be thoroughly addressed prior to the start of the experiment, thus leading to hunger strikes, sadistic behaviour and numerous mental breakdowns. The experiment worked, in a way, but at what cost?

An important question we must ask ourselves before undertaking research is will the result be worth the cost? The Stanford experiment may have been successful through the eyes of Dr.  Zimbardo, but was it worth psychologically damaging numerous students in order to attain the results? In a BBC article, one of the traumatized participants Clay Ramsey states that “the best thing about it, is that it ended early” (Leithead, 2011). He believed that the experiment was not justified and that it should never have happened. If you look at some of the pictures taken from the experiment, it is hard to argue against Ramsey, yet Dr. Zimbardo claims that his work managed to show that “human nature is not totally under the control of what we like to think as free will” and hence the experiment being justified.  However, he doesn’t ever address the ethical issues at hand, thus leading us to believe that the students’ well-being was not one of his priorities in this experiment.

Ethics are vital in any type of research, as they help set boundaries as to what we can do and what we shouldn’t do. The Stanford experiment is a perfect example that demonstrates the consequences of crossing ethical boundaries.

References

Leithead, A 2011, ‘Stanford prison experiment continues to shock’, BBC News, 17th August, viewed 7th April 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-14564182

 

The telegraph in the nineteenth-century

As I sit writing this post for my blog, I begin to imagine how I would have done this in a world without internet. Nothing comes to mind. A world without internet is unimaginable. Yet, there was a time, a century or two ago, where this was the case. This was a time where communication between countries was terribly slow and inefficient. This is why the invention of the telegraph, in the early 1800’s was so significant and revolutionary…

The telegraph was first used by both the French government, who wanted to keep a control of their provinces and the military, who used it to keep in touch with other commanders in the field. However, the telegraph eventually made its way to the public and as a result, there was an increase in uses of the telegraph. Standage (1999 pg. 136) states that due to the telegraph, “the general public became participants in a continually unfolding global drama” meaning that citizens were no longer left completely in the dark when it came to global news.  Journalism was one of the principal benefiters of the telegraph, as the telegraph meant that information could travel faster, hence allowing newspapers to report news sooner. In addition to the journalism industry, Tarr, Finholt and Goodman (1987, pg. 41) claim that the telegraph “revolutionized business communications” as it delivered immediate message transmissions and also significantly reduced costs for information and transactions. The telegraph was used, in the business industry, to inform businessmen on market quantities and prices, much like Wall Street does today. Fire and police departments were also part of those who benefited from the telegraph. Prior to the invention of the telegraph, fire and police departments struggled to cope with the various fires and riots (Tarr, Finholt and Goodman, 1987). The introduction of the telegraph was also significant as it eventually led to the invention of the fire alarm telegraph.

telegraph

 

In regards to socializing, the telegraph was sometimes used by telegraphers (individuals operating the telegraph) to communicate with one another. They often would play games with each other, chat, gossip and occasionally even fall in love (assuming one was male and the other female). In fact, this use of the telegraph even inspired a genre of literature commonly referred to as “telegraphic romance”.

To sum it all up, without the invention of the telegraph, we wouldn’t be able to be as technologically advanced as we are today and hence would not be able to communicate as easily as we can.

References

Standage, T 1999, The Victorian Internet, Walker & Company, London, Phoenix

Tarr, J A, Finholt, T & Goodman, D 1987, ‘The City and the Telegraph: Urban Telecommunications in the Pre-Telephone Era’, Journal of Urban History, vol.14, no.1, pp. 38-80

 

Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed: Cases of Orientalism in video games

What are the first that come to mind when you think of the Middle East? Vast, empty deserts? Exotic women in extravagant dresses? Grand, majestic palaces? All of these ‘perceptions’ of the Middle East stem from the way the Middle East is depict in the media, whether it’s film or video games. In this post, I will be specifically addressing the claims of Orientalism in the popular video-game series’ “Prince of Persia” and “Assassins’ Creed”.

The popular video game series “Prince of Persia” first originated in 1989 and was created by a Yale student by the name of Jordan Mecher. Since then, the game has spawned numerous sequels and reboots and has even been adapted into a big-budget Hollywood film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The original game revolved around an un-named Prince, who has to overcome a series of puzzles and obstacles to rescue a Princess from the nefarious Jaffar. Interestingly enough, many elements of the game were borrowed by the 1993 Disney hit “Aladdin”. However, the video-game series has been claimed by some to be a stereotypical depiction of the Middle East. Šisler (2008, pp.207) argues that the imagery featured in the game “is particularly dominant in reference to the ‘Middle East’”. However, Šisler (2008, pp.207) also goes on to say that the fore mentioned elements “are typical for common medieval fantasy settings”. Having played Prince of Persia several times, I agree with Šisler’s argument that many elements in the game are orientalist. The mysterious nature of the prince, the exotic appearance of the princess and the vast, desert landscape all epitomize the West’s fetishized perception of the ‘Other’.

Original 1989 cover for "Prince of Persia"

“Assassin’s Creed” is another immensely popular video game series which has been claimed to be orientalist. Originating in 2007, the game sees the player take control of an assassin in ancient times, with each game based on a different time period. The series also borrows features from the fore mentioned “Prince of Persia” series and features a similar style. The orientalist elements in the first “Assassin’s Creed” are not hard to spot. The sandy-buildings, the mysterious protagonist and exotic women all feature in the game’s depiction of the Arab-Islamic culture. Yet, the question which Komel (2014) attempts to address is whether the orientalism in the game is used positively. Komel (2014) argues that it is, by stating that “in Assassin’s Creed we find at work a certain self-orientalistic sub –version that meditates a positive identification” Komel (2014, pg. 72). Whether this is the case is irrelevant, as what it is important from that statement is that the claims made for the game being orientalist are warranted.

Image from Ubisoft's 2007 hit "Assassin's Creed"

References

McLaughlin, R., Collura, S., & Buchanan, L. 2010, ‘IGN Presents: The History of Prince of Persia’, IGN, 18th May, viewed 28th March 2015, http://au.ign.com/articles/2010/05/18/ign-presents-the-history-of-prince-of-persia

Komel, M 2014, ‘Orientalism in Assassin’s Creed: Self-Orientalizing the Assassins from Forerunners of Modern Terrorism Into Occidentalized Heroes’, Terojia in Praksa, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 72- 90.

Šisler, V 2008, ‘ Digital Arabs: Representation in Video Games’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 203-22

Netflix in Australia

In light of the recent addition of Netflix in Australia, I have decided, for this week’s blog post, to analyse an article from the Sydney Morning Herald which attempts to predict the effects of Netflix’s arrival towards Australian television. In the last few years, Netflix has dominated the internet streaming market in the U.S. and has provided both cable and free-to-air television networks serious competition.  Now, 8 years after its inception, Netflix has arrived to change the television market in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald article, written by Elizabeth Knight and Jared Lynch, takes a business-orientated perspective on Netflix and comments mostly on the possible economic effects that Netflix will have on cable and free-to-air networks. The authors, Elizabeth Knight and Jared Lynch are both specialists in the business domain, which indicates that they are qualified to comment and write on this subject. However, in an age where news is dominated by moguls, it is understandable to question the motive behind any article.  However, in reading the article, it seems that the Knight and Lynch have written from a neutral perspective, which is a great thing. In regards to the audience, I believe that the article is targeted towards people with an interest in business or media & technology.  In reading the article, I noticed that there seemed to be no evident viewpoint other than that 2015 will be “the tipping point in the fortunes of traditional free and pay television”.   Furthermore, the authors’ don’t seem to critique possible flaws in the viewpoints or statements expressed by others.

Now, to address the major issue of the article: the research.  The major issue in the article is the failure to address the source of the research and the methodology. Now, this may be because it’s only a newspaper article and not a scholarly, journal article, however, when placing statistics in any form of article, you should refer to both the source of the research and (if applicable) the methodology.  However, one of the best things about the article is the simplistic language used which allows, even non-technologically savvy individuals to understand. Because the article was written for a newspaper, there is no specific order and the article is not divided into sections.

Overall, the article is an informative but heavily flawed prediction of the way Netflix could effect both free-to-air and cable television.

References:

Knight,E & Lynch, J 2015, ‘Arrival of Netflix and SVOD set to change Australian TV’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28th March, viewed 29th March 2015, < http://www.smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/arrival-of-netflix-and-svod-set-to-change-australian-tv-20150327-1m8zlo.html>

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