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Alan Carroll Media

This is my blog. There are many like it but this one is mine.

Bye-bye, WiFi

Reading the introduction to the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, I started to imagine myself actually engaging in the suggestions he puts forward.

Newport examines the notion that we, as a society, have become much shallower in our working lives. Our attention is spread too thinly across many different distractions such as social media, email etc. The counter to this is what Newport describes as “Deep Work”. Shutting off all external distractions and focusing completely on the task at hand. No email, no Facebook, nothing else other than the work in front of him.

I was envisioning myself going home this evening and shutting off the wifi, leaving my laptop closed and actually focusing on reading the rest of the book. I got to the end of the excerpt that was provided for us and felt as though a weight had been lifted off of my chest. Even just imagining myself disconnecting from the constant deluge of information from the internet and focusing purely on just one thing, made me feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in the past few weeks leading up to the end of the college year.

I have often toyed with the idea of “going off the grid” so to speak. Taking a break from the internet and seeing what kind of person I become when the need for another “hit” of information dies down. I feel like boredom is something that has become too easily staved off by picking up my phone and browsing Facebook for the third time that hour. I could be engaging in something far more involved and beneficial, like reading a book, learning a new skill or creating something of my own.

I think this practice will definitely be a part of my routine in the future.

Copyright and Copywrong

We watched the documentary RIP! A Remix Manifesto and I found it to be quite interesting and thought provoking.

Copyright law exists to help protect the livelihoods of creators and ensure that they are properly reimbursed and credited for the work that they did. The application of these laws falls apart in this modern age of instantaneous communication and file sharing. Many would argue that, if I buy a song and download it to my device, I now own that song and am free to use it however I want. I could cut it up, remix it or use it in a project I’m working on.

However, this isn’t the case. In 2012, a news story circulated that involved a legal battle between Bruce Willis and Apple over the right to bequeath his digital music collection to his daughter after he died. The story turned out to be fake but it did spark the discussion of ownership of digital media.

According to Apple’s terms of service (which of course, you’ve all read) songs purchased on the iTunes platform are not then owned by you. You are essentially renting them. This means that when the contract expires (when you die), transferring the media to another person is, technically, illegal.

 

Personal development plan

Right now, my next goal is to finish this college year with a high quality project to display at Fís. This is what’s occupying my mind at the moment.

Over the summer, I’m getting in touch with various media companies to promote my skills and hopefully get some experience in the workplace.

I am planning on returning for fourth year if I don’t have a job in the media industry. Over the year, I will be teaching myself how to use additional software packages that editors are expected to know, such as After Effects and Speedgrade.

 

Stoicism

Watching this video on stoicism, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old parental argument towards their child who won’t eat their vegetables. “There are starving children in Africa who would love a hot meal like that.” The argument that there are people in the world who are worse off than you and you should be grateful for what you do have is, on the surface, a noble one.

But, I feel that this thought process can lead to a sort of stagnation. The belief that anger at the world is unjustified because you aren’t entitled to anything in this life. What if Rosa Parks had said to herself “I should be grateful I even have enough money to ride the bus.” and decided to move to the back seat. What if Margaret Gaj had considered herself lucky that she had a loving husband and family and not helped found the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement.

It seems to me that being unhappy with the status quo and making moves to change it is what drives social progress. Stoicisms argues that the status quo is out of your control and attempting to change it is selfish and greedy.

I still won’t eat my vegetables though.

Fandom-onium

Most young girls have a certain band or celebrity that they’re obsessed with. Growing up in the nineties, I saw a fair few come and go. Five, Backstreet Boys, 911. Even my sister had a poster of East 17 up on her wall.

Watching the Channel 4 documentary Crazy About One Direction, made me feel uncomfortable. On the surface, One directioners may seem like just another fandom going weak at the knees over the latest pop band. However, this generation of fans have something that previous generations did not, connectivity.

The evolution of social media has made connecting with celebrities, seemingly, much easier. This, in turn has made it feel almost like a personal affront if your favourite celebrity does not engage with you. Especially to a young mind that hasn’t known any alternative

 

Moral Panics – Judas, A Scary Lot

On the 23rd of December, 1985, two young men, Raymond Belknap, then 18, and James Vance, 20, had just finished a six-hour session of smoking marajuana and listening to heavy metal. At this point, seemingly out of nowhere, they wedged the door shut with a 2×4 and began thrashing the room. The two then climbed out the window, not before grabbing a 12-guage shotgun.
It was near dusk now, as the two boys ran down the alley behind Ray’s house and climbed a six-foot wall that lead to the yard of the Community First Church of God. It was there, on a small carousel in the corner of the courtyard, that Raymond Belknap shot himself in the head and was killed instantly. Vance attempted to follow suit, but survived the incident with horribly disfiguring injuries.
On looking through Belknap’s thrashed room, the only things left untouched were the record player and records. Including the one that was playing at the time of the incident, his brand new Judas Priest album.

The band were brought to court because the parents of the young men believed that, somehow the lyrics of the band’s album ‘Better By You, Better Than Me’ coerced them into taking their own lives. The court found that any artists’ lyrics are protected as free speech. After this, the prosecution changed tact and suggested that the band placed subliminal messages in the record.

It may seem like a stretch but, America was actually in the middle of another moral panic, the so-called ‘Satanic Panic’. This was a period in the eighties where fears of satanism and satanic cults were rife throughout America.

This was a period of great change in terms of popular culture. Teens were shunning their hippie parents’ sappy pop records in favour of harder, faster fare like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, and Judas Priest. Pop itself was getting more risque—Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Prince turned off the lights and turned up the sex. Family structure also changed dramatically as divorce rates surged and more women were working outside of the home. More and more children were being entrusted to daycare and babysitters which enhanced the feeling of a loss of control over their children’s behaviour and influences. Such an enourmous change caused christian parents to believe that it was the devil’s work.

In court, it was claimed that the band used a technique called backmasking to insert the subliminal messages. This is where a piece of audio, usually spoken words, is reversed and inserted into another piece. When played normally the sound seems just like noise, but if played backwards, the message is revealed. Phrases like ‘Try suicide’, Let’s be dead’ and ‘Do it’, were said to be backmasked into the record. In defense, guitarist Glenn Tipton brought the album into a studio in search of other phrases in the reversed music;

'Right away we found ‘Hey ma, my chair’s broken’ and ‘Give me a peppermint’ 
and ‘Help me keep a job.' - Glenn Tipton.

Ultimately, the court case was dismissed due to lack of evidence proving the efficacy of subliminal messaging. It’s almost impossible to say the real reason the two men took their own lives but, it could be a combination of factors. Their broken families, history of substance abuse and fascination with guns at an early age.

 “These two young men lost their lives because of their tragic involvement in drugs and alcohol and dysfunctional family units in which they weren’t given proper care, attention or guidance. I’m not making light of a tragic situation, but this trial was just an attempt to shift the burden of guilt to someone else’s shoulders. - Rob Halford, Lead singer, Judas Priest

 

References
https://web.archive.org/web/20070116124138/http://members.firstinter.net/markster/PAINKILLER.html (Reposted at https://mahou.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/judas-priest-suicide-trial-article/)

http://heavymetalandsatanism.weebly.com/subliminal-satanic-messages.html

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Satanic_Panic

http://io9.gizmodo.com/a-brief-history-of-satanic-panic-in-the-1980s-1679476373

http://mediaseffectonheavymetal.weebly.com/vance-v-judas-priest.html

noisey.vice.com/blog/satanicpanic-interviews

Hashtag #Politics

As I was looking through my constituency’s candidates and their social media presences, I actually struggled to find someone who used social media regularly or even had a presence at all. The two most active that I found were Peadar Tóibín of Sinn Féin and Seamus McMenamin of the Green Party.

Tóibín’s Twitter feed comes across as very critical of the current government. Most of the tweets I came across were attacks on government policies. There are a few retweets of the SF twitter feed with info on their own policies but the rest feels like an attempt to unite voters against a common enemy rather than the common good.

McMenamin on the other hand shows a more positive viewpoint. His feed feels more welcoming, helped possibly by the fact that he is a first time candidate. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of the government today, he promotes the positive aspects of his policies and even throws in a bit of self-deprecating humour.

I think I’d prefer to follow McMenamin’s feed rather than Tóibín’s because, if a candidate spends most of their time bashing their opponents rather than suggesting a better course of action, it feels like they don’t really have any good ideas of their own.

The effect of multitasking on- SQUIRREL!!!

In our Professional Issues in Creative Multimedia class, we watched this talk given by Daniel Levitin on Information Overload

One of the things that stood out to me is that he didn’t have a PowerPoint presentation or any graphics, yet I found myself being able to pay attention to what he was saying. He made some very good points on multitasking and how studies show it doesn’t really exist and can be detrimental to productivity.

I’m almost never just doing one thing at a time. If I’m working on college assignments, I usually have Facebook open in another tab or have my headphones in listening to music or podcasts. (Which, I’m guilty of doing right now as I write this post). I realise that this might not be the best way of getting things done but, the thing is, I can’t focus in complete silence. Without something playing in the background, my mind just wanders in daydreams. The same daydreams that got me into trouble when I was in school. The sam daydreams that, I hope, one day will help me in my creative career.

I don’t really see this as multitasking because I don’t really pay attention  to the thing that’s playing in the background. Often, I’ll hear something completely random and out of context come up in a podcast that I have on and wonder how the conversation reached that topic. Then I’ll realise that I haven’t been listening for the past twenty minutes because I was so wrapped up in work.

 

Culture. Once you pop, you can’t stop.

Popular culture, for me, has always been a rather fluid concept. I tend to go through ‘phases’ of consuming different forms of culture. How I interact with culture is represented in what I do in y down time. For a while, I could be constantly listening to music and then slowly transition to binge watching TV shows. After that, I could be ploughing through the unread books on my shelf.

Right now, I am transitioning from TV shows to movies. This could be the fact that, as TV shows go on, there is a law of diminishing returns. That is, there are only so many ways you can tell the same story well. Watching multiple episodes in one sitting tends to reveal these weaknesses. Whereas, with movies, each one is it’s own story told with originality. Every element of the movie making process adds a different spin on the story or the look of the film; writing, directing, cinematography etc.

I suppose these phases can be summed up as, ‘Do I want variety or do I want to stay in the same world with the same characters for a while?’

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