Archive for June, 2010

30th Jun 2010

Pub Football on 3D TV…

…thus was my encounter with the England-Germany game a few days ago. And my verdict – well, the ball was clearly over the line in Three Dimensions too!

But more to the point, 3D TV is clearly having cost implications for public houses across the nation (and perhaps beyond Pretty England too). Not just because of the price of 3D sets – I believe they cost around £1000 in retail stores right now – but because of the expensive glass-replacement orders wending their way to brewery purchasing managers. Though I’ve not witnessed it myself, I’ve heard several reports (give my observation the name ‘triangulation’ for social scientific purposes) of spectacled drinkers ‘missing their pints’ while glued to the virtually-real action. Particularly problematic are the 2-foot tall and no doubt rather expensive flutes in which certain Belgian or German lagers are often served.

Even more surreal is the effect of watching a 3D monitor, without the specs, after consuming a fair amount of alcohol. Remarkably enough, the blurry images on the screen are compensated for by the drinker’s bleery beer goggles, hence providing ideal 2D visual conditions.

However, neither sober 3D pint-missers nor drunken 2D spec-dodgers found any improvement in the interest levels while watching games involving the England football team.

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21st Jun 2010

On flags, vuvuzelas and…T-shirts

When we use the term ‘media’, usually we mean mass media (newspapers, TV, etc.) or, less often, new media forms like blogs and Facebook. But media are actually all forms that communicate something from one source to another, and if said communication is solely enacted at a particular time and place (i.e. if it requires us to be co-present, there-and-now, at the scene), then so be it. Which is another way of saying that media technologies don’t all run on electricity!

The World Cup demands our attention just as spectacularly through co-present as through mass media. Flags – one of the oldest media in the civilised world – are hardly ever out of eyeshot. In days gone by, as old film footage confirms, flags made their omnipresence felt on special national occasions such as coronations, jubilees and wartime victories. All the technological wizardry ever invented could not begin to replace the timeless aura of a flag at full (or half) mast.

Nor could digitisation affect that age-old medium of divine simplicity – the horn, better known (in the last ten days or so) as the vuvuzela. Now there’s been a lot of criticism levelled at this ancient media device – it only blows one tone, it drowns out the chanting, it fools us all into adjusting the sound settings on our brand-new, HD-ready (ITV HD not-ready-for-Gerrard-goal), mass-mediated TVs – but I think most of this criticism is, quite frankly, out of order. Anything that deters the England brass band should be applauded – though the applause may well fall on deaf ears.

Flags and vuvuzelas are tribal media, belonging firmly to what McLuhan referred to as a pre-1500 oral age of ‘pure’ communication. T-shirts, on the other hand, hit the media sector several centuries later, thanks to the mass production of cotton clothing of course. Yet these most basic garments provide us with perhaps the richest array of media messages in our times. The best one I saw recently read BOMB SQUAD – IF YOU SEE ME RUNNING, TRY TO KEEP UP! Ah… priceless.

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