Multitasking: is it madness?

multitasking-©-Creativa-Fotolia

Multitasking is something we all believe we do quite well. I personally consider myself an expert; I’m almost as good at multitasking as I am at procrastinating. The difference between the two, is that procrastination is a ‘universal state of being for humans’, and those who can manage delay are ‘more successful and happier’, according to Frank Partnoy in an interview with Smithsonian. Whereas only about 5% of people can multitask effectively, as for the other 95% of people, there have been several studies that prove the ‘negative effects of multitasking in learning environments’. As a student, who believes I can multitask – this is very bad news.

A study involving 62 students was conducted to test the effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students. All students were to attend the same lecture; half were to turn their phones off while the other half were allowed to text during the lecture, and all students were to complete the same test at the conclusion of the lecture. Ellis, Daniels & Jauregui (2010) found that performance of student’s texting during the lecture was significantly worse than that of the students who were not.

This is actually terrible news for me as a student who takes both a laptop and mobile phone into lectures. Although I’m not disappointed in my performance, I now know that I am not achieving my full potential due to my ignorance… great.

Anyway – carrying on – the study extended the analysis to gender. We all know the old saying that claims men can’t multitask whereas women can, right? Yeah, well it turns out that’s totally wrong; the results showed, and I quote, ‘that there is no significant difference between the quiz scores of males versus females’ (Ellis et. al. 2010). I know, again, this is horrible news for me and I’m sure I’m not the only one to be surprised by this information. If you don’t believe me, just see for yourself.

After learning this new information, I couldn’t help but stick to my beliefs of women (generally) being the superior gender when it comes to multitasking. Considering this study relates specifically to students learning capacity, I decided to look a little further. I came across a study conducted by Timo Mäntylä whereby participants ability to multitask was assessed using a computerized task comprising four component tasks. The study basically found that gender differences reflect spatial ability and that ‘participants with efficient updating functions were better multitaskers than participants with less-efficient control functions’ (Mäntylä 2013). These people were generally males as results suggest that men outperformed women on three counter tasks. And again, this has been very difficult to comprehend. I went in search of evidence to support my cause and found the results proved the total opposite to what I desired. I give up.

So as I sit here, eating my breakfast, reading articles, responding to text messages, refreshing my Facebook feed and writing this blog… I raise my first, shaking it in the air and say, ‘you don’t know me, science!’ Because really, as Ellen highlights in this clip below, there are plenty of ways that we can multitask, and I don’t think it always has the capacity to negatively impact productivity or the outcomes of a task. Anyway, I think I’ll stick to this belief, even if it means I’m living my life in denial from now on, just pretending that I’m one of minority who can multitask effectively, just to justify my decisions.

Reference List:

Ellis, Y., Daniels, W. and Jauregui, A. (2010), ‘The effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students’, Research in Higher Education Journal, no. 8, viewed 9th September 2014, <http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10498.pdf&gt;

Gambino, M 2012, Why Procrastination is Good for you, Smithsonian, viewed 8th September 2014, <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-procrastination-is-good-for-you-2102008/?no-ist=&amp=&onsite_medium=internallink&page=2&gt;.

Mäntylä, T 2013, ‘Gender Differences in Multitasking Reflect Spatial Ability’, Psychological Science, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 514-520

Weimer, M 2012, Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t, The Teaching Professor Blog, blog post, 26th September, viewed 8th September 2014, <http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/multitasking-confronting-students-with-the-facts/ >.

Would you be my subject?

According to ACMA, in May 2014, 12.07 million Australians owned a smartphone. So, it isn’t surprising that the majority of people I see alone, and sometimes in groups, at train stations, cafes, and other public places, are passing time plugged into their phones. I know I’m guilty of this anti-social behaviour, so I’m not one to judge, but it does make me wonder why and what are we’re all doing?

So many people in my generation have entered their lives as independent people with the comfort of a mobile phone, be it smart or ordinary. It has acted as a safety net for many – call if you’re in trouble or play on it if you’re feeling awkward/uncomfortable – I suppose this explains why many of us find it difficult to part with it when we’re alone or in an unfamiliar place. We feel vulnerable, so we turn to our little smartphone friend for comfort. It could be to avoid awkward conversations with strangers, small talk with people we don’t know all that well or just because we’re used to it and don’t really know how else to escape the silence or fill the time… or you know, you’re just really busy and sitting at a train station is the only time you have to respond to emails and messages.

I often sit in public spaces (if I’m having lunch by myself at the mall, for example) and look around, observe people, their behaviours and wonder what they’re doing. I know this sounds a little creepy, but it really can be fascinating. Something I always notice is the amount of people holding their phones and using their phones. I wonder if people feel obliged to use their phones in public because it’s just what everyone does now, and if you aren’t on your phone, then what are you doing? But that’s exactly what I’m curious about… What are you people doing on your phones? And all of you sly guys just holding it tightly in your little fists… why?

I’m concerned that thewelcome-to-public-transportation-ill-be-your-guidese people are likeminded and that they’re doing exactly the same thing as me. You see if I am using my phone in public, generally I’m simultaneously on patrol for any unusual or humorous behaviour, interesting wardrobe choices, or just anything I deem comedic value. If I’m not using my phone, you can bet that it’s close by to ensure I don’t miss any quality video or photo opportunities. I’m sure that all the people I see just holding their phones when they’re sitting or walking around in public, are also preparing for the inevitable slip up.

I’ve never had much of an issue photographing or filming something I find funny in public. I suppose I feel like a bit of a creep at times and depending on the situation, sometimes mean, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought ‘I should ask this person’s permission’. If anything I’m thinking, ‘oh god, I hope this person can’t tell I’m taking a photo right now’, or wondering if I’ve forgotten to turn my flash and sound off to avoid being caught out. I think you can guess that when I challenged myself to confront my subjects and ask for their permission, I just couldn’t.

I’ve thought about positions being reversed, and how I would feel if I were the subject of some ones hilarious photo from a day out in public. I don’t think I would mind all that much, sure it’s embarrassing but if someone has taken my photo for the same reason I take photos of people – then I probably deserve it and wouldn’t mind seeing the photo myself.

I think the context is extremely important when photographing or commenting on things seen in the public sphere. When I consider my actions in pubic places, I actually think it is acceptable, because I would be comfortable with the roles being reversed. However, the fact that I don’t feel comfortable confronting people and asking their permission suggest that I know it is unethical and shouldn’t be doing it.

With all this in mind, I’m still going to continue my usual habits in public, guilt free. Tell me what you think about taking photos of people in public unknowingly. Do you think it is acceptable and how far is too far?

Reference List:

ACMA Editor 2014, m-Commerce: Mobile transactions in Australia, Research Snapshots, blog post, 24th June, viewed 8th September 2014, <http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Research-snapshots/m-Commerce-Mobile-transactions-in-Australia&gt;.

Cinema’s Future

i-lied-meme-at-the-cinemaI remember as a child, if we were ever planning a trip to the cinemas, we would have to grab the local newspaper to look up what movies were screening and the designated time slot. Once we’d decided which movie to watch, we’d fill up our water bottles and mum would take us to the corner store where we would each choose a mixed lolly bag before heading to the cinemas. This was standard procedure.

Today, there is the beauty of technology. My journey to the cinemas began with a Google search – ‘Hoyts Warrawong session times’ – how else would I find out what’s currently screening? This process was simplified further as I could filter the results based on the day and time I was available. The available film titles flashed up accompanied by an image and synopsis; I considered all of these elements and decided… not to go to the cinemas. That’s right, I faffed around for about 5 minutes, only to decide its too much effort to go to the movie theatre when I can watch whatever I want, at home, for free and be way more comfortable.

The challenge in this task was finding a movie that I deemed worthy of my time (drive 20 minutes to the cinema), effort (put on pants), and money (the price of tickets, fuel and cinema food is a joke). The fact of the matter is that I would prefer to lounge around in the comfort of my own home, free to wear no pants and laugh as loud as I want, for a fraction of the cost… or for free! I believe many Australians would agree with me.

When I have the luxury of downloading or streaming movies online, for free, or purchasing movies online for a fraction of the cost of a movie ticket; why would I spend my time and resources at the cinemas?

Don’t get me wrong, I do see the benefits of watching a new film in the cinemas; you get to be the one of the first to see it and the big screen and surround sound, all makes for a fairly great experience. But there are a number of reasons why I, and many other Aussies, are choosing not to go to the movies as often.

According to Screen Australia (2013), ticket prices are consistently rising with the average ticket price 20% more expensive than 5 years ago. As a university student, struggling to feed myself and pay rent; I prefer not to spend my money on something I can later access for free.

With prices constantly rising, it’s understandable why George Lucas sees the film industry’s future looking something similar to that of Broadway shows. He suggests theatres and screens will be fewer but they will be bigger and more luxurious, films will sit in theatres for several months and the prices will be in excess of $100 (Rosenthal 2014). Now I understand where he’s going with this theory, and maybe he is predicting the future, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that point in time.

Just because I don’t rate the cinema experience very highly, doesn’t mean I dislike it all together… When Harry Potter came out, I watched each one in theaters. I believe that there is hope for the future of cinemas, people enjoy the experience and many are still attending. Research tells us that in 2012, 69% of Australians attended the movie theatre (that’s not including the kids who sneak in without paying, right?), with the average number of visits being approximately 7 times (Screen Australia 2012). Believe it or not, this is an improvement on 2011; click here to check out the full report from Screen Australia.

Despite the country being filled with people like myself, who generally prefer the home experience to that of the theatre, we are a minority. Movie theatres will continue to live on because it will always be a luxury that people demand. Although the demand may appear to fade, this could simply be a shift in preference and we may see a change in cinemas, as suggested by George Lucas.

Anyway, I’m going to get into bed and watch a movie Let me know what you think!

Reference List:

Screen Australia 2012, Percentage of people who had been to the cinema in the last 12 months, and average number of visits, 1974–2012 Screen Australia, viewed 2nd September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx#Ran98512&gt;.

Screen Australia 2013, Cinema admission prices in Australia, 1976–2013, Screen Australia, viewed 2nd September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcboprices.aspx&gt;.

Rosenthal, E 2014, 10 Filmmaking Heavyweights Predict the Future of Cinema, The Creators Project, blog post, 5th May, viewed 2nd September 2014, <http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/10-expert-opinions-on-the-future-of-film&gt;.

Broadband has already changed my home. Bring on the NBN.

Home to me is in Wagga Wagga where I grew up, where most of my closest and oldest friends live, and where my Dad lives. When I think of home, I think of good times spent with the people whom I love. Home is the place where I feel most comfortable – free to relax and do as I please – it is where the water never runs cold, the house is always the right temperature, and the Internet speed is simply delicious.

 

My memories of techUntitlednology in the family home as I was growing up mainly consist of early mornings or afternoons spent in front of the TV watching Cheez TV, ABC kids or any old cartoon. This was before I knew of, or needed, the magic of broadband internet. TV was part of my daily routine and although both of my parents were busy, I do have memories of sitting and enjoying a program together.

 

Fast-forward a few years; I’m in highUntitled.png vii school, year eight. I have a mobile phone and just received my first personal laptop: life is good. We have unlimited broadband Internet: life is great. It was at this stage in my life that things began to change. Integrating these new devices into my life and daily routine resulted in: me spending much more time in my room, on my laptop, being antisocial. These luxuries impacted the way our family interacted in the home and not necessarily in a good way. The TV was still part of my daily routine but it was now competing with the internet, my social life and the time I spent on my mobile phone… plus I had to squeeze in some time for family. You can imagine this is a lot for a 13 year old to manage, so it is no surprise that I, like most other people, began multitasking… talking to family at home whilst also keeping up with my friends online and I adopted the habit of second screening.

Although families often sit down to enjoy the TV together and each other’s company, this is also a time where we interact and communicate with one another. I know my family would do this and I don’t believe this is a new notion. Deloitte conducted a study for the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, 2012, that found 80% of participants “talk ‘frequently’ or ‘occasionally’ to other people in the same room while watching TV” (Deloitte 2012, p.16). This is a continuation of earlier technological impacts and many would agree that it is now ‘normal’. However, I believe that broadband Internet introduced another medium for us to interact with, which in turn distracts and disconnects us from those who are physically present. We use to only have the TV and those in our company, to divide our attention amongst; now there are so many devices demanding our attention, it’s hard to find a balance. Ironically, technological advancements that have enabled greater connectivity, have created disconnect in face-to-face communication and the level of engagement.

I know this all sounds quite cynical and as though I think the Internet is corrupt, damaging our society by inhibiting human interaction. However, I see it to be a process of evolution in the way we communicate and interact is changing. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found in 2012-2013, 83% of households were connected to the internet and although the highest portion of users were aged between 15 and 17, 46% of people over the age of 65 were internet users. The below graph illustrates how widely the internet is used and evidences that it’s integral in the daily lives of most people.

Internet users by age group (2012-2013)

(source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2012-13, catalogue no. 8146.0, ABS, Canberra)

I chatted to my dad about broadband and asked him how he thinks its impacted the home and family interaction. He said that it has ‘changed face-to-face talk time and rather than being person to person, attention has shifted to devices and social media’. He didn’t suggest that this was a bad thing but he didn’t think it was entirely positive. He doesn’t believe that the NBN will have a significant impact on the family home. While we both agreed that there are many benefits, he sees it as an extension and improvement of what already exists. The slow rollout means that the development will be slow; initially it will just be providing people with a better version of what they might already have. Until it is more widely available, the impacts it could have on the home are limited. 

Dad currently connects to the Internet using wireless ADSL2 and has another two data plans – the one included in his mobile plan and a wireless USB – despite having varies connections, he only connects to the ADSL2 using one device, his laptop. It is for this reason that he doesn’t really need the NBN at the moment; ‘what I’ve got is quick enough but if it [the NBN] was cheap enough, I’d probably take it up… otherwise what I have now is fine’.

Earlier I said that home is where the internet speed is simply delicious. I stand by this point and believe this means that when or if the NBN were to become available in my area, it wouldn’t be something I would pass up. Having fast internet is a very good feeling, and for me, it makes me feel like I really have my life together – when lets be honest, I don’t – so just imagine how magical the NBN will be.

Don’t believe me? Click here to see for yourself!

After all, using slow internet brings out the worst in people and that isn’t something to encourage.

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Out with the old and in with the new

Todays TV audiences are no longer passive viewers who are happy to sit back and do nothing to engage with their favourite program. The advancement of technology enables viewers and engage in conversations in online communities and using social media and the convince to record programs and watch them later. In order to provide a more accurate portrayal of audience activity, engagement and viewership, traditional methods of audience measurement need to be improved.

The FX network is abolishing its ‘live and same day’ ratings, which measure how many people are tuned into a particular program on the day and time that it airs. This method of audience measurement excludes time-shifted viewers who choose to watch their pre-recorded program at a later date. As a result, the data collected from ‘live and same day’ ratings are an inaccurate portrayal of audience engagement and measure of a TV programs viewership.

 In an effort to obtain more accurate data, FX has introduced C3 ratings which is a three-day measurement tool that encompasses live and time shifted audiences who watch a program within three days of it airing. They are calling this new, more inclusive measurement system, ‘Live+3’, but despite its extended measurement period, FX has described it as ‘flawed’.

The below graph illustrates the increase in viewers when expanding the measurement period to encompass time-shifted viewers, watching programs within three or seven days of its original air date. The data is described as having a ‘cylindrical’ pattern, which is explained in more detail below.

Untitled

Source: Ebiquity 2014, graph, Business Week, viewed 22 August 2014,

Audience-measurement firm Rentrak, analysed live and time-shifted viewership during a 28-day period. The results showed that over 60% of audiences watched FX’s Sons of Anarchy and TNT’s Rizzoli and Isles after their airdate using either digital video recorders or video-on-demand. By extending the audience measurement period to include time-shifted viewers, some network’s programs are seeing an increase in viewership of over 50 percent.

Not only are networks extending the measurement period to reflect a more accurate portrayal and measurement of audience viewership; ListenLogic has introduced a new TV rating system that incorporates viewer engagement levels into traditional ratings. This new system is called ‘Involved Viewer Ratings’ and aims to provide a more robust measurement of audience involvement. It achieves this by measuring audience’s engagement in conversations and sharing opinions etc. about a program via social media networking sites. The new rating system follows posts and conversations for up to 24 hours after the program has aired. Mark Langsfeld, Founder & CEO of ListenLogic explains that they’re ‘using these unsolicited conversations to tap into a deeper level of viewer involvement and augment traditional TV ratings’.

 

 

TV? Ah, That Old Thing..

The TV’s place in a typical Australian family home has changed dramatically over several decades. In order to better understand the evolution of television, I interviewed my father and asked him to recall memories and experiences while watching TV, and its existence in the family home as he was growing up.

In a four-bedroom home in the rural town of Wagga Wagga, NSW, dad lived with his parents, and five bothers. My father, Terry, believes it would have been during the mid 60’s that his family got their first black and white television (during this time television was available in most of Australia). He has no distinct memory of getting it or how it may have changed his family’s day-to-day activities, as he couldn’t recall a time in his childhood when the family was without one – ‘I suppose it just turned up one day’.

The black and white set was quite small so it sat on a small cabinet in the corner of the lounge room – sharing a wall – in the other corner was a small fireplace. There was a large lounge on the opposite wall and two single seated chairs, maybe a bean bag or two placed around the main feature: the TV. When I asked dad if anyone had a specific seat for watching TV, he could clearly recall that ‘Dad had one seat that he would always sit in’. When I asked if grandma did too, he told me ‘she didn’t watch it that much, she had stuff to do… He [his dad] didn’t watch it much either’. As for the six brothers, they all fought over their preferred seats, but in the end, it was a matter of ‘first in, best dressed’.

After hearing other students describe their parent’s memories of television being filled with excitement and delight, I was intrigued to hear how my fathers experience was different. The interview revealed how comparatively, he was disinterested and unimpressed with TV as a child – my words, not his – ha! I found that the TV wasn’t something dad and his family relied upon as he described it as ‘just another distraction and something to fill in time’. When he spoke of his childhood, his memories were mostly of the time that the six young boys spent together, playing outside – not in front of a TV set. Although dad struggled to remember, he dug deep and could recall watching cartoons – more specifically – ‘Disneyland’, on a Sunday night when he was 9 or 10.

Dad couldn’t think of many rules that the family had around TV time, rather a routine. The boys would come home from school, do their homework, go outside to play, watch TV at night after dinner, and then go to bed at a certain time. The TV was ‘an entertainment thing’; it wasn’t a way of bringing the family together to bond, as his parents often didn’t watch it and that’s what they’d do over dinner.

Fast forward to the early 70’s when dad was about 13. His family bought their second black and white set that found a home on a side cupboard in their dining room – still visible from the kitchen. If the TV was on during dinnertime, it was probably because it was ‘news time; and it remained ‘just something that was there’. Dinner was a time to eat and talk and as dad said, ‘with 6 boys eating and two parents, it gets a bit messy if you’re all focused on the TV’.

It is evident that with the evolution of television, it slowly became an integral part of daily activities and routines, changing our behaviours and attitudes. Although my father wasn’t very interested in TV, he still spoke of it as being integrated into his daily activities as a child. This changed with him watching more TV as he grew older and technology advanced.

Hey BCM240!

Alright, so it’s that time again. The beginning of a new semester means another BCM subject… and another BCM subject means another blogging task.

Did you guys miss me?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my blog or myself – let me introduce myself. It’s only fair, I mean it’s not like it’s obligatory for every new blogging task. Oh wait, yes it is. But that is A-OK because it gives me a chance to tell you what’s new in my life and all about my latest media interests/habits.

My name is Caitlin and I was born and raised in Wagga Wagga as the youngest of five children (wow). I moved to Wollongong for the commencement of UOW’s Autumn session, 2013, and I’ll be hanging around until sometime during 2016 (at least I hope so). Currently in my second year of a Bachelor of Communications and Media studies, doing a double major in Marketing and Advertising, and Management.

Uni aside, I work part time at a café and I enjoy exploring new places and doing new things. I don’t mind exercising, I do like spending quality time with myself, but I also love to be with my friends.

I would have to say that I am highly dependent on my devices – I always have my phone with me and I most certainly need my mac to do my work (and browse the web) – pen, paper and the library just doesn’t cut it these days. One of the fancy features of my house is an intercom system through which the radio is constantly playing. If I’m not using this fabulous invention then I am listening to my iPod. Finally, there is the TV which I only use to watch movies and TV series that I own or have downloaded as the one in my bedroom has no cable connection.

Now that you know a bit about me, here is a peek at my late night media space.

Don’t worry, I realize there a person in my bed but he’s usually there when I decide to crawl into my nest to do some work or just relax, so I figure I best include him. I do have a desk, but when it starts getting late, I prefer being in bed, either with or without the TV on; but definitely with my phone and TV remote by my side as I sit/lie there with my mac.

Media spaces are complex and this image exemplifies that notion. I think it’s rare for people to be occupied by just one singular screen; often their attention is shared between a number of devices. If, in the rare circumstance that I am focused on the one device, within that device my attention is generally divided between a number or applications and activities. I never seem to stop multitasking when using media and devices, and that’s because it’s made all too easy. Media platforms are increasingly becoming integrated to encourage a participative audience culture which ultimately creates more interactive media spaces.