Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
When was the last time I went physically into a library? Every week, but then I am a tactile person and live two blocks from one. They have special collections and a certain feeling that cannot be obtained anywhere, at least easily. A place to contemplate, explore the book next to the one you are interested in on the shelf, just think and sort as you walk the shelves scanning related subjects or articles. And they have trained professional librarians.
Library means collection, which goes well beyond books. The loss of libraries would mean the loss of the art galleries, performing arts centers, meeting rooms, viewing room, expertise and other resources they bring, well beyond a collection of physical books.
Public libraries have value in our society. They provide all of what I listed above and more. They are a wall against creeping illiteracy, ignorance and the dumbing down of our overall society. Parents who do use libraries never bring their kids to the library. What strata of society do they come from? What will happen if this trend continues? I am with Ray Bradbury, who grew up practically living in the library. It opens the mind, imagination and intellect.
So, yes, traditional libraries hold great value to our society and its future.
As to virtual libraries, they have their place and their value is increasing.
However consider these thoughts:
What if there is a war or natural disaster involving magnetic pulse and electronics stop working? Not science fiction as there are natural causes for such pulses and it is very much both a military weapon and a side impact of nuclear weaponry. Let's not forget what happened, as Google's top brass reminds us, when all knowledge was in one place, the Library at Alexandria. Fire and much of pre-Egyptian knowlege, art and science disappeared forever.
Access to virtual libraries required technology that cost money and takes service? What of the poor, or those who live in a society where a government or a corporation keeps people from having access to information?
Tactile paper and ink libraries can be hidden, transported, displayed and stored in homes or collections.
The building and its contents remind the community that it is a real flesh and blood community, with resources and identity. Often libraries hold local history, writing, art, culture and identity.
There is a physical feeling and pleasure to reading a tactile book. Its touch, smell, the reality that others have read it, the wear and tears that add character and value.
Virtual has its place, but we need both buildings and on-line in the Ethernet.
Besides the best place for those who do not have funds, or those whose technology is aging, or those who just want to be away from home, school or work, to access what is in the ether-world is at their local or campus library.
It is getting more and more difficult to teach, as students want to hear only what they already think or believe in, and will try to get you fired if you disagree. What happened to the teacher being devil's advocate to make students think and students knowing enough to know how the game is played, and not taking every opinion or statement as gospel fact, from the teacher or from those they follow as role models? And if we are getting polarized and refusing to think, could it be the end of democracy, of the arts and of free thought? Of course true artists, including actors, will always push the envelope and risk attack and even death to make progress on helping other to think. We should never demand or require anyone agree with us, or take our view, only that they learn to listen to and see both sides, understand the characters and players, and consider the message of the playwright or filmmaker.
People who are otherwise law abiding citizens think nothing of breaking copyright law and infringing on the property and livelihood of others. They excuse it away pointing to rich corporations or super stars without thinking of the millions of authors, singers, session musicians, actors, directors, writers and other working middle class or lower people who depend on being paid for their work through residual income. Material shows up before it is published or presented in theatres and most of the public seems to think that is OK...People who would never steal a candy bar from a 7-11 or willingly take money from someone elses' pocket, are willing to share and take the property of others off the Internet. Why is that?
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
A blackout landing page inside the "Anti-Sopa War Room" at the offices of the Wikipedia Foundation in San Francisco on Jan. 18, a 24-hour blackout of Wikipedia's English-language articles, joining other sites in a protest of U.S. legislation aimed at shutting down sites that share pirated movies and other content. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Hour 2 of Radio Times from WHYY
From the download of that song stuck in your head to the episode of that TV show viewed on a foreign website, it's easier than ever to get your favorite media for free on the internet. Online piracy has run rampant, costing U.S. businesses as much as $200 million a year by some estimates. Two anti-piracy bills recently proposed by Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), were met with intense opposition and even inspired popular sites like Google and Wikipedia to black out their websites in protest. As a result, the bills have been put on hold, but supporters of the legislation have vowed to fight on. Joining us to discuss internet piracy and help us make sense of SOPA and PIPA is LARRY DOWNES, who writes about the intersection of technology, politics and business. Then we’ll get opposing views on SOPA and PIPA from DAVID COHEN of the AFL-CIO and CORYNNE McSHERRY, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
To any viewer who thinks "Sons of Anarchy" is too violent, consider the bright side: At least the castration scene got … um … deleted.
Kurt Sutter, creator of the drama about a California motorcycle gang, presented the idea of showing a character getting the unkindest cut early in the run of the show, now FX's highest-rated. But he backed off after the network's chief objected.
"I have no filters," Sutter said with a laugh. "I just assume everyone feels the way I do about things."
In the wake of December's Connecticut school shootings, TV violence has moved back into the policy debate. The head of the National Rifle Assn. controversially attacked the entertainment industry — including music videos and video games — for portraying "murder as a way of life.
The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the broadcast networks, has rules meant to curb language and sex on TV, but despite the persistent debate over real-life violence, it has no specific prohibitions on media violence. So the networks attempt to governthemselves through so-called standards and practices departments that read every script and watch every episode on the lookout for violence as well as sex and language deemed excessive. The departments typically have around 10 full-time staffers, many of whom are lawyers or have legal training.
Networks have long preferred to keep the process shrouded in mystery, perhaps to avoid laying down public precedents that could then be challenged. None of the four major broadcasters would allow a standards and practices official to talk on the record for this article, although some executives did not want to speak on the record.
While some show runners complain that the rules are arbitrary and amorphous, some critics argue that the "S and P" units aren't doing their jobs at all. Some of the most popular series on TV right now are also among the most violent, including AMC's "The Walking Dead," Showtime's"Dexter," CBS' "Criminal Minds" and Fox's new hit "The Following."ABC's terrorism thriller "Scandal" recently drew criticism with a lengthy torture scene. Network chiefs were put on the defensive last month as reporters asked about the many serial-killer shows slashing their way through prime time, including an upcoming NBC drama based on fictional murderer Hannibal Lecter.
Some networks seem to be more permissive than others. A recent study by the Parents Television Council, a lobbying group and frequent entertainment-industry critic, examined prime-time programming on all five broadcast networks for two weeks this year. Heavily dependent on crime hits such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "NCIS," CBS was deemed the most violent network, with 33 scenes with violent gunplay during the period. It was trailed by ABC (14), Fox (nine) and NBC (four). CW had no violent scenes during the period. The study did not look at FX and other cable networks, which are not regulated by the FCC and where the standards tend to be much more permissive.
"If you were to ask the average viewer on the street, I think they would be surprised to hear that networks still have standards and practices departments at all," said Melissa Henson, the group's director of communications and public education. "They have this reputation of coming down all the time, but they really don't do much" to stem violence on TV.
But networks say they rely on viewers to tell them where the boundaries are — and in any case, no definitive evidence proves that violent depictions cause real-life violence. (Some studies, however, have suggested that TV violence can desensitize certain viewers, especially young children.)
"I don't think you can make the leap of shows about serial killers causing the violence that we have in our country," NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt recently said, in the kind of demurral typical in the industry. TV veterans like to point out that onstage violence far predates the invention of their medium.
Networkexecutives say they are constantly weighing how much violence they can show — despite what some skeptics might think. That is especially true when a mass shooting such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary casts an unwelcome spotlight on the subject. "This has come up repeatedly, usually once a decade or so," said Tim Brooks, a TV historian and former research executive for Lifetime and USA cable networks.
But producers complain that the rules are always changing so it's often hard to know where the boundaries are. "For me the frustration is that it's so arbitrary, and it changes from season to season," Sutter said.
Still, there are some lines. Neal Baer, the former show runner of NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," said CBS has a prohibition against showing a bullet entering the human body, although showing the aftermath of a shooting is fine. (CBS declined to comment.) NBC's Hannibal Lecter series will reportedly follow a similar path: Lots of bodies, but not many killings shown.
CBS will air Baer's next show, "Under the Dome," an adaptation of the sci-fi novel by Stephen Kingabout the social breakdown of a small town cut off from the outside world. The Sandy Hook shootings have made him think hard about how violence will be depicted, but Baer said he hasn't changed anything because of the tragedy. "We're thinking about the social ramifications and how do we present that in a compelling way," he said.
Brooks said the networks' S and P offices have wielded power since the early 1960s, after a public uproar over the now-forgotten series "Bus Stop." Critics were outraged that the pop idol Fabianplayed a psychopathic serial killer, arguing that it presented the wrong image to teenagers. Congress responded with the "'Bus Stop' hearings" designed to stem TV violence. Spooked, the networks decided to regulate themselves and began pulling back on the gritty stuff.
But as any viewer today knows, violence has come back bigger than ever, especially as cable programming has exploded over the past decade. The antihero of "Dexter" dreams up ever-more-chilling ways to dispatch his bad-guy victims. Zombies munch on human flesh in "Walking Dead." Even on CBS — the most-watched network and also the oldest-skewing — the "CSI" franchise is built around the up-close autopsies of crime victims.
Although viewers sometimes complain about violence, they tend to get more irked by raw language or sexuality. Often they rationalize violence as long as it's familiar to a genre, such as horror, or has a moralistic message attached. Brooks recalls a focus group 20 years ago when he worked for USA Network. Some parents talked about how much they liked the show "Walker, Texas Ranger," which featured Chuck Norris as a crime fighter who took out the bad guys with martial-arts moves.
When the moderator pointed out that research had determined "Walker" was one of the most violent shows on TV, the room fell silent. Then one woman piped up and said that might be true, but it was OK because Norris played a good guy who helped people in trouble.
Sutter said that principle applies even on "Sons of Anarchy," where the boundaries between good and evil are much murkier than on "Walker."Still, he is astonished by what he sees as hypocrisy over on-screen violence.
"I'm amazed sometimes at the level of violence we get away with on my show," he said. "Yeah, it's OK to watch a girl burn to death, but God forbid I show a piece of her nipple. The sex boundaries are much more delineated and adhered to than the violence."
For almost 90 years, the Bonham Theater has been a center of social life and a place where the tiny town of Fairbury, Neb., (population 3,942) can gather to catch the latest Hollywood movies.
But two weeks ago, owner Allen Hinkle switched off the movie projectors for probably the last time and closed the theater’s doors, leaving the community without a movie theater for more than 25 miles.
Like the small town Texas theater in “The Last Picture Show,” turning off its marquee forever in the face of competition from television, the Bonham Theater is under fire -- the victim of a shift from film to digital projection.
(Bonham Theater, above. Still from "The Last Picture Show" below right.)
It is a scene playing out for more than a thousand independent and community theater owners across America, who must fork over between $65,000 to $150,000 per screen for digital theater systems or face extinction. And with each cinema that goes dark, a piece of the social fabric unravels with it, theater owners argue.
“They’re cutting the throat of the small guys,” Hinkle told TheWrap.
Studios have been pushing for the change for nearly a decade, because digital distribution allows them to save thousands of dollars in print fees. As an incentive to theater owners, they have played up the enhanced picture quality that comes with digital projectors and the ability to show films in 3D -- a format that allows exhibitors to charge higher ticket prices.
Hinkle had hoped to sell the Bonham, but he told TheWrap that in order to find a buyer he has to pay more than $100,000 to convert the theater from film to digital projection.
After asking the town to help him raise the money, but receiving little in the way of donations, he decided that it no longer made any sense to stay open and wait for the rapidly approaching day when studios decide to stop providing theaters with 35mm film prints.
“We’re closing it," Hinkle said, "because we’re not going to extend ourselves out with another loan when we want to sell.”
Scores of other independent movie theaters are in the same position, and time is running out. The message from studios is clear: convert or die.
“This is existential at this point,” Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), told TheWrap. “It’s not how much can you make from digital. It’s if you want to be in business, you have to be in digital.”
So far, 3,447 theaters have converted to digital out of 5,700 theaters in the United States, Corcoran said. But those stragglers must act fast, because at some point in the next year he believes it will no longer make economic sense for studios to continue to provide film prints.
Instead of streaming movies and shows on your smartphone over Wi-Fi, why not watch them over the same transmitters that send signals to your television? Mobile TV, which makes use of special add-ons for mobile devices, may be the next key development for broadcasters.
"A great example is the Today show," says Anne Schelle, partner at Acta Wireless who is leading the panel on mobile TV at the National Association of Broadcasters convention this week. "You know in the morning, you get up, and you want to walk right out the door and keep watching it, you can do that with this device."
What you see on the mobile screen would be the same image you’d see live on your TV, and in real time. That’s because mobile TV is driven by the powerful signal coming out the TV transmitter, not by Wi-Fi or cellphone services like 3G or LTE.
"This enables consumers to have unfettered access," says Shelle. "You don't have to have a data plan, you don't have the same buffering issues."
Fisher Communications has been testing mobile TV on some of their stations in Washington State and Minnesota. Randa Minkarah, senior vice president of revenue and business development at Fisher, says a customer could get an add-on device with a small antenna that plugs into a USB port on, say, an iPad.
"And then you are free to start watching television, the device will scan and pick up the channels available," Minkarah says. "And if you go to another market, you open it up and you scan and you pick up those channels."
Minkarah says her company's been gathering audience data. Ahead of her panel at the NAB convention tomorrow, she would only say that Fisher is "very excited" about the early returns.
Computer World Security take a look at the same topic: "Combinations of space- and ground-based telescopes may be the most economically palpable defenses NASA can mount against asteroids and comets heading toward Earth, but there are more advanced defenses involving spacecraft and nuclear explosions that might be plausible in the future. Those were just some of the conclusions included in a report, “Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies,” issued January 22, from scientists at the National Research Council on what options NASA has to detect more near-Earth objects (NEOs) -- asteroids and comets that could pose a hazard to Earth."
Bruce Willis and "Armageddon" aside we are not ready, do not know enough, and may not even see the end of mankind coming. Hollywood aside, the odds against a smaller asteroid hitting a major city are astronomical, but someone somewhere will die.
So the issue is do we spend the money on NASA and on planetary defense, or on other issues closer to home, reduce taxes and get wealthy or make sure our children, grandchildren and great-great grandchildren are safe from dangers from above?