All posts tagged: anthropology of media

my business skills

Something I wrote to explain what skills I bring to the table in starting my own business…   My competitive advantage centres on uncovering human texture. I seem to be a natural researcher — delving into all the relevant data, identifying gaps, designing methodologies to fill those gaps, etc. Sitting in people’s houses, rummaging through cupboards, closets and fridges to understand their daily habits, then exploring how they process, relate and react to broader issues affecting their lives. My role has (primarily) been to connect human insight and creativity in ways that fuelled ideas for multinational advertising clients. In the 1990s, amidst the Quebec referendum, most big multinationals were harmonizing their North American strategies. In Canada, this meant strengthening team understanding of differences between Quebec, English Canada and US consumers in needs, behaviour and attitudes; then highlighting how these variances should impact communication strategies to achieve business targets. My approach was to continuously induce paradigm shifts using client data as a means to influence how our client’s research, marketing and media budgets were spent. I …

in pursuit of social change

This essay analyzes the construction and filmmaking approach used in “Cidade de Deus” (referred to as City of God throughout), a 2002 Brazilian film directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same title, by Paulo Lins. The film was an international commercial success, receiving widespread critical acclaim, sweeping the awards of international festivals in 2002-2003. The film illuminates the darkest corners Rio’s favela’s in the 1960s – 1980s, raising the invisibility cloak on its most vulnerable inhabitants — the children who are brought into gangs, drug trafficking and who ultimately become victims of gun violence at a young age. While there does not appear to be clear quantifications of the film’s impact, nor its ability to garner social change (particularly for residents of the favelas), the construction of the film/ story can be credited (at least in part) in catalyzing much needed dialogue in Brazil and abroad about the social crises central to the film. The term ‘favela’ refers to highly populated urban agglomerations that emerged in Rio …

a viable model

It’s one thing to question your mind. It’s another to question your eyes and ears. But, then again, isn’t it all the same? Are senses just mediocre inputs for our brain? Sure, we rely on them, trust that they accurately portray the real world around us, but what if the haunting truth is, they can’t? That, what we perceive isn’t the real world at all, but just our mind’s best guess. ~ Elliot Alderson This essay focuses on Mr. Robot, a television series equivalent of an indie film, whose first season is said to have pushed boundaries and captured the cultural zeitgeist, almost overnight. Its first season ratings established it as the #3 most watched scripted cable drama in the US, garnering multiple awards and nominations — leading to the series being licensed in almost 200 countries (Birnbaum). This essay analyzes the strategies employed, deconstructs the elements contributing to its success, and explores why the series may be a model for future television properties moving forward.    The series is about a hacker genius whose …

narrative reframing

This essay focuses on the first season of the Serial podcast, analyzing the narrative approach used in Sarah Koenig’s investigation of an old murder case. In covering the story, Koenig managed to correct cultural biases/ judgements inherent in the original criminal trial, and revealed a separation between truth and fact in the case, resulting in an upcoming retrial of the person convicted. Much of this was achieved through various techniques and aesthetics used in her reframing of the case narrative. Using the lens of theorists Palmenfelt and Jennings, I hope to illuminate the narrative approaches used, through an ethnographic analysis of aspects of the narration, and through examining theories around oral storytelling traditions employed in the podcast series. Serial’s Season 1 (referred to as ‘Serial’ throughout) is an episodic podcast first available late in Fall 2014. The podcast covers Sarah Koenig’s journalistic investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school student in Baltimore, Maryland. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of first degree murder the following year and given a life …

reclaiming identity

Of the myriad of impacts from colonization is the fragmentation of cultural/ ancestral knowledge. At the intersection of technology, identity and creativity for several media artists from indigenous and displaced communities, is the reconstruction and perpetuation of cultural of knowledge. Contemporary media artists from these communities are using emerging technologies to explore, recapture and revitalise cultural knowledge and spiritual connections to reclaim identity and preserve this knowledge for future generations. This essay focuses on projects by Mi’gmaq-Canadian artist and professor, Dr. Lila Pine and Afro-Caribbean-American artist, Vashti Harrison; looking at their use of technology to reclaim indigenous knowledge and to (re)construct identity.    Linguistic Visualizations Dr. Lila Pine is a Mi’gmaq-Canadian new media artist and professor based in Toronto. She combines oral and scholarly traditions, sociolinguistics and media making into her work, to deepen the understanding of the ways we ‘speak’ and ‘know’ (RTA).   Dr. Pine’s “Imag(in)ing Indigeneity in Language” project digitally captures visualizations of linguistic sound. The intention is to uncover visual differences in linguistic structures as a means to explore/ convey impacts …

where control ends and freedom begins…

This essay explores the permeability of space within technologically constructed realities, in the quest of finding where control ends and freedom begins (for an individual or subculture). The role technology plays within the constructed realities represented in “The Truman Show” and “Neuromancer,” points to media (models, spaces, content, interactions) as being purveyors of cultural control. The concept of ‘culture’ is defined as “an ensemble of beliefs and practices that form a given culture, function as a pervasive technology of control, a set of limits within which social behaviour must be contained, a repertoire of models to which individuals must conform” (Greenblatt 225). In this discussion, technology has two functions: a technical role in the construction of spaces and the impact the space has on the people who use it. This will be explored in the constructed realities evident in ¨The Truman Show¨ and ¨Neuromancer.¨ The attention to detail in the crafting of “The Truman Show,” enables the audience to peel away layers like an onion, in its examination of the manipulation vs. complicity debate in …

taking flight: perspectives from the depths of an ideas factory

An essay that was published as part of the sarai 09: projections reader of the series of sarai readers. The essay follows the life of an idea and its propensity to travel far in the digital age, given the right coalescing conditions. It explores the process of fermenting ideas from within an ad agency and parallels this with the conditions which catapult social movements forward. download essay

privacy paradox

At no point in history have we been more vulnerable to surveillance, whether by government, companies or curious individuals— driven by the fear of terrorism, the profit motive and simply the fun and convenience of being online. The eroding opacity of our privacy, becoming more translucent with time, is something many continue to struggle with. Whether for utility or security, privacy has become a trade-off— sometimes conscious, sometimes not (OTM, 2013). It appears to only retain its importance until we are forced to forfeit our privacy for other, more important freedoms. We confront a basic paradox whenever we discuss personal freedom in literate and oral cultures. Literate society separated the individual from the group in space; engendering privacy, point of view in work and specialization – forging the values associated with individualism, privacy and a public role of absolute conformity. Yet, we already exist in a global theatre where the entire world is happening. Our whole cultural habitat has been, and is being, transformed by media and satellites into a living organism contained within a …