060414 (Lecture Nine)

For this lecture, Hugh discussed the the presentation and operation of viral media; how viruses physically and digitally spread was the central metaphor used to create an understanding of how networks operate and how throughout time it has been able to adapt from a physical illness to a global obsession created over the internet.

The Black Death was history’s most devastating virus, wiping out an estimate of 75 to 200 million people during the Middle Ages onwards, from Europe to America. It was both a transformation of the understanding in religious and political beliefs, and how contagions spread and could be avoided. It was believed to have originated from central Asia, and further travelled beyond by the Silk Road and across the ocean. This can be interpreted of how networking doesn’t always spread good information.

Viral media has become the prime example of how people have learnt the trick of selling something with both creativity and the media; it either creates or jumps onto a bandwagon (such as a meme), which both could spread easily and adapt rather quickly into popular culture. The Old Spice television advertisement has accumulated over 50 million views worldwide through Youtube alone. This statistic alone is the equivalent to a quarter of the people wiped out in the plauge, showing how the evolution of network is basing itself off the the Black Death, intertwining the physicality of history, with the digital evolution of the network culture.

The spread of individual opinions and information has adapted into the global connectedness gathering information; the Ted conference videos were created for that single purpose as their tagline suggests (Ideas worth spreading). They are usually presented in a small amount of time and usually packaged to be ‘family-friendly’, allowing almost everyone to be able to view and understand this.

The sub-genre of Zombie films have always been a popular topic to adapt, as starting from the pioneer film of this genre George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). It allowed the concept of the spread of a virus happening in a rapid timeline, which was a critique on the belief that capitalism and consumerism are plundering us into a state of repression and un-renewal. Recent films such as Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011) elaborates on how modern civilisation’s belief in celebrating our networks, that when a certain global crisis happens, we are paralysed by the lack of collective networking information that would usually be presented to us, establishing the faults of dependence on the viral media and spread of information through the internet network.

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For the third assignment of the Making Networked Culture, we were assigned to get into a group of four to five and devise a narrative that will be created in a series of  interactive short videos and connect them with allowing the option for the viewer to decide which path they want to take. This is called Networked Storytelling.

I joined a group of five consisting of Rosie, Ryan, Grace, Delon and myself; we spent our two hours of tutorial in Week 7 coming up with ideas, the closet of my mine to be chosen was a series of short films of the same events shot with the distinctive style of our chosen filmmaker. However we decided to go with Delon’s idea of doing four roads leading to four different scenarios happening, and we actually had a schedule to go with. However circumstances such as distance and availability in one’s schedule proved difficult for us, though me, Delon and Ryan were able to film two of the scenarios for the assignment. We decided to film the other two scenarios on campus, but when the day came we decided we wouldn’t be able to capture our idea with the limited time we had to film. So within 5 minutes of discussion, we scraped the original idea and went with a new idea.

The new idea was simple: Class at a university gets cancelled so Rosie, Ryan and Grace decide to go the city and explore their choices. Though the final product had three options, there was originally meant to be four. I was actually meant to be the fourth person, but since I had to go to my tutorial along Delon, we were forced to downsize to three. There was an alternative of showing Delon going home, but we decided that looking through the window on trains was pointless enough.

After the day ended, each person had captured footage of their day. However on the Wednesday we were meant to edit, we found out that they had forgotten to film the options of their city experiences, so they filmed their missing footage the following day. Once done, everyone uploaded footage and voice-overs onto the Facebook page we created for this assignment. However despite this, we all individually worked on one of the videos. I actually worked on two of the videos (Opening and book store), since Grace was too busy to commit time to editing it. That was okay, since it would allow me to work a bit on my editing skills. I edited the opening sequence with lots of jump cuts to quicken the pacing, but for the book store sequence, I utilise it to a minimal, as too much jump cuts rendered the sequence in less than 12 seconds. Finally, through patience and rapid editing, we were able to finish the project in the limited time we had given ourselves.

In the end, I learnt that working as a group will allow complications to arise, and since all lived in different parts of Melbourne and had different time schedules, it was proven challenging to work around. However we were able to overcome it, and we developed good communication and dealt with the problems faced, along with helping each other out when needed. Though I think that we should learn to be more prepared for any challenges like this, I had a good time with this assignment and I learnt alot from doing this assignment.