Category: Analysis

Not a Remix–Nor a Sampling: Why Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism is Unacceptable

Image: Huffpost

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This entry was updated on August 19, 2012 with an extra commentary at the end of the main text.

As an educator in higher education and researcher specializing in remix culture and authorship, when I first learned about Zakaria’s admission to plagiarism, I was very disappointed in him, and thought that there was no way around it, that his admission of plagiarizing parts of Jill Lepore‘s work on gun control written for the New Yorker puts into question his intellectual integrity.

I thought that his apology was quick and to the point, but that somehow it was not enough. I thought that it was necessary for Zakaria to come forward and explain in as much detail as possible the reasoning for his behavior. And I thought that I wasn’t alone in hoping for this to happen–that if an actual explanation was delivered, it would all serve the constructive purpose of discussing the seriousness of plagiarism with students while providing a concrete example of a public intellectual who committed such an unacceptable act.

Continue reading »

Watching The Olympics on TV Is Still About Collective Participation

Image source: Washington Post

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This text appeared previously on Huffington post.  Since its original publication on August 8, 2012, NBC decided to at least make available live streaming of the closing ceremonies. Other than this, much of what is observed in the following commentary remains relevant.

Viewers well versed in media expect delivery-on-demand for major events. This has created a peculiar tension when viewing prime-time Olympic coverage consisting of competitions that previously took place throughout the day, but which were not broadcasted live on TV. After the first week of events, it appears that audiences are tuning-in to NBC’s evening broadcast in larger numbers than previous Olympics, and this has become the network’s main justification for holding out on selected events until prime-time.

Continue reading »

The Problem with Olympic Spoilers is Selection


Image source: E News

By Eduardo Navas

Posted on August 1, 2012 on The Huffington Post

Social media spoilers are inevitable when the broadcasting network decides to block-out selected events and save them for primetime. This became evident to me as I experienced the Olympics during the first three days.

It began on Friday when I settled to watch the opening ceremony. At this time I briefly considered the fact that the broadcast was not live on the East Coast of the United States, where I live. I also realized that people on the West Coast would see the opening extravaganza three hours after me.

I said to myself that it did not matter because viewing a delayed broadcast of an opening event, sure to be considered historic, would not change my viewing experience. Such a situation is equivalent to one’s willingness to watch a television series knowing that it is a recorded production.

Things were different when I selectively viewed the first events on Saturday live on Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC Sports. The multiple broadcasts were also complemented with apps for mobile media, well supported with the nbcolympics.com website.

Throughout the day I checked twitter and Facebook for updates and comments. I soon learned that Michael Phelps took fourth place in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley, while Ryan Lochte took first, winning the gold. However, I was not able to experience the historic moment until primetime on NBC. At this point I was more interested in knowing how it happened, and was no longer invested in the event as I would have, had it been live.

The same thing happened again on Sunday when Lochte and Phelps participated in the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay only to come second to France. Again, I learned about this in the late afternoon, but I waited to view it during primetime on NBC.

The decision by NBC to select certain events, from earlier in the day, and broadcast them during primetime began to be discussed as soon as Saturday, and by Sunday, stories were written on different online publications. Entertainment Weekly, in particular, ran two extensive stories. NBC apparently made its decision in order to attain higher ratings during its primetime broadcast. Understandably some people are quite unhappy about NBC’s decision, which is why, as I write this, the hash tag #nbcfail is still going strong with rants.

After viewing the events on Sunday night, however, I don’t think that the problem for NBC is that selected events are shown well after they take place. The problem, in my view, is that NBC appears to be selecting the wrong events for delayed broadcast at night.

To be specific, both on Saturday and Sunday during primetime, NBC went back and forth between gymnastics and swimming. When swimming came on, I could not help but think that I was about to see something which had already taken place. But with gymnastics, I did not mind the delayed broadcast at all. Why, I thought? I came to the conclusion that it has to do with the type of sport.

Swimming is an action sport, which deals with extreme physical performance dependent on time. It is defined by exciting moments such as when your favorite athlete does not even take third place. Add to this the possibility of breaking a world record, and you are sure to have a nail-biting experience as a viewer. Such thrill is unlikely to happen with a delayed broadcast of a major swimming competition such as Lochte’s and Phelps’ once it has been spoiled earlier in the day due to social media and online news sources.

Gymnastics, on the other hand, is a sport about physical strength, precision and gracefulness. Add to this the fact that it depends on points given by judges who, in large part, rely on aesthetics, and we have a dynamic that is closer to viewing a theatrical performance, and not so different from viewing the opening ceremony. Gymnastics is one of my favorite categories in the Olympics, and I don’t think I have ever experienced them live.

NBC’s situation actually makes apparent the fact that major networks need to better understand how to create a worthwhile experience for viewers who are likely to know already much about sporting events that took place early in the day (in this case the Olympics) which they decide to deliver during primetime.

If a network decides to hold out on a sport defined by its physical excitement, such as swimming, then an effort should be made in creating a viewing experience about how and why something happened and not “what will happen.” This approach would then make the juxtaposition of swimming and gymnastics a better fit given their differences as I explained. With this more realistic approach Bob Costas will not have to say “no spoilers” as he introduces the taped segment of Lochte winning gold while Phelps takes none, hoping that the viewers will have a thrilling experience. I did not.

Book Sprint on The New Aesthetic

Post by Eduardo Navas

Note: Previously this entry read “book print.”  This was a mistake on my part. It should be “book sprint.”

I recently read the “book print” New Aesthetic, New Anxieties by a group of media researchers, theorists and curators, who got together for three and a half days from June 17–21, 2012,  at V2, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The concept of coming together for just a few days to brainstorm a book is certainly something worth considering as an act of creative critical practice.  The book from this standpoint functions surprisingly well, especially because its premise is delivered to match the speed of change that its subject (The New Aesthetic) experiences in the daily flow of information throughout the global network. I personally find amazing that a book of this sort can be put together with some cohesion.

Continue reading »

Into the Matrix: the future of augmented reality (and you)

The growth of augmented reality (AR) will almost certainly change the way we visually experience the everyday world. And, as discussed previously on The Conversation, it’s likely to be Google’s Project Glass leading the way on this new frontier.

But other technologies on the horizon will profoundly alter our interactions with computational technologies. More important than the eye-candy value of AR will be the applications for those who are physically or economically disadvantaged.

Read the complete commentary at The Conversation

Cinematics In Videogames Part 1: You’re Doing It Wrong

In recent years, a lot has been said about videogames as art. While this is a much debated topic, it’s also a very complex one, and not one I think can be easily addressed. However, I think that the topics constituents are ripe for discussion and in the end, when we put them together, may shed some light on the topic overall.

That’s why I’d like to begin with one of the key parts of any potential work of art, the story or message the work intends to convey. Specifically, how it’s conveyed.

Read the complete story at FanBolt

Wind motion patterns animated

Nicolas Garcia Belmonte, author of the JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit, mapped 72 hours of weather data from 1,200 stations across the country.

Read the complete comment at Flowing Data

Changing face of plastic surgery

Many people aren’t happy with their face or body, and a proportion of those turn to plastic surgery to try to alleviate their displeasure. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual report shows just how many have opted for cosmetic surgical procedures. There were nearly 1.6 million of them performed in 2011, along with 12.2 million minimally-invasive procedures.

Read the complete comment at Flowing Data

Obama and Romney Campaigns Adopt Square for Funding

Social media was a game-changing technology that helped alter the course of the 2008 presidential election. In 2012, mobile payments could be the transformational technology, as millions of political supporters are given the ability to collect money on smartphones for candidates.

Read more at NYtimes bits

New forms of school violence emerging

New forms of school bullying are emerging as technology develops and society becomes more prosperous. Alerted by shocking school bullying that has driven victims to suicide, the government is updating its view of school violence.

[…]

In recent cases, bullies forced their classmates to subscribe to expensive unlimited access rates and make them share access. They also took humiliating pictures of their victims and distributed them to other students via mobile messengers.

Read the complete story at the Korea Herald