The Informal Media Economy

This week’s reading by Lobato and Thomas focuses on the employment models beginning to emerge from the 21st century.  Most notably, they focus on the rise of ‘informal media work’ and how it is undertaken by ‘non-professional’ and ‘ultra-freelance’ writers. Working for companies such as Yahoo voices, Hubpages or Textbroker, they form “Content Farms” within the content production industry. Here, employees churn out low-grade clickbait articles, on a ‘cent per-word’ rate. Sometimes being paid from as little as ¼ of a cent per word.

This not only raises ethical concerns over underpaid minimum wages and exploitation but also about the professional standard and reliability of the content being produced. Yet as academic Toby Miller highlights; ‘There would be no culture, no media, without labor- labor is central to humanity’. Overall this conflict raises many issues for the creative labour debate.

The Pros:

  • Flexible working conditions for employees
  • Allows practice for new writers or students establishing a career.
  • Quick turn over of work
  • Global access
  • Greater access for minority or impoverished regions

The Cons:

  • Job insecurity
  • Low pay/ & No minimum pay model
  • Overwork
  • No union or Employment rights
  • Unhealthy working conditions

Overall, this has given rise to the combination of ‘formal media enterprise and informal employment’ within the creative industries. Allowing for precarious jobs and no guarantee of employment within your field. Yet as the reading emphasizes, this is a global issue. As sectors within the automotive and agricultural industries continue to take the greatest hits.

Yet, this doesn’t install much confidence in budding media students such as myself. Where the idea of being unemployed or employed in a field other than the media industry seems frightening.

Quite simply, we should all peacefully await for our jobs to inevitably be replaced by robots.

A World Of Differences

Commissioned by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, this weeks reading focused on the five key trends shaping the Entertainment and Media or “E & M” industries. Through thorough research and analysis, the report suggests that the E & M landscape is a ‘multi-shifting’ and continually growing component of society. Most remarkably, in countries such as Venezuela and Nigeria. Where it has begun to grow more rapidly than their GDP. This information is crucial for advertising and media agencies to understand, as it gives rise to the possibilities of potential new markets.

In ‘A world of differences’, the report identifies five key shifts.

The first shift being; demography. As the report pertains that more youthful populations have higher rates of growth in E & M. Through statistical evidence, the report highlights that the ten youngest markets are spending money on E & M at three times the rate of older markets. Therefore emphasising the potential and somewhat neglected markets of Pakistan and the middle east. “where around 70 percent of the population is under 35”. It is therefore also important to note that E & M growth and spending is influenced more by the age of a country’s population than by its overall wealth and GDP.

(Personally, I found this piece of data very intriguing and vital in understanding the current media climate. Pakistan would never spring to mind when envisaging potential media consumers.)

The second shift being competition. Interestingly the report highlights that ‘content is being redefined by forces of globalization and localization simultaneously.’ This coexistence, seems to depart from the somewhat generalised viewpoint; that globalisation is inevitable. This oversimplification, ignores both our need and our ability to ‘Think global and act local’. 

The third being consumption. Where consumers now have the ability to choose and ‘curate their own media diet’. This is prevalent in highly successful software such as Spotify and Netflix. Being a paid subscriber to both of these services, I can  see the remarkable benefits of a pay-as-you-go and low-cost membership plan.

Fourth geography, . I found it very interesting to note that this year “China, the U.K., and Denmark ‘— will become the first to reach the tipping point at which total digital advertising revenues surpass their non-digital equivalent. “. From a media practitioners perspective this information is extremely important

and the final shift being business models. With the report suggesting companies create more dynamic work environments that reflect the ideals of the brand. This can be seen in the offices of AirBnb and Google.

Guest Lecture Week 1 – ABC R + D

Guest Lecture Week 1 –

I found this week’s guest speaker to be extremely interesting and very relevant to the career pathway that I dream of having myself. Discussing ‘exponential technology’ and ‘ubiquitous computing’, Astrid reported on the ABC’s somewhat new focus on ‘R+D’ ( Research and Development). Through this research Astrid highlighted the ‘megatrends’ that are beginning to emerge and shape society. These being:

  • Exponential technology – user and creator end – fast pace
  • Ubiquitous Computing – environmentally we are connected. Not quite have it yet, sensory environment – ‘how close you are to wall’, i.e ‘ikea kitchen knows what you are doing’- enable your envi
  • Big data/ quantified self – wearable devices- rich sensory data in hyper personalisation. Could get Mood data (like caeden?). Experiments into physiological data that we havent tapped into yet. Data then made available to media makers
  • AI and machine learning – virtual assistants are going to change the way we live.
  • More Natural, Human Interfaces – conversational interfaces where one can talk to the device.

From their rigorous research and data analysis, ABC investigated how Australia’s ‘future homes’ are being shaped. Finding most significantly, that the family dynamic of sitting at home and watching tv together is rapidly disintegrating. Pathing the way for single parent, aged care, and single-living dwelling. This will also lead to an unfortunate rise in homelessness. As a result of these changes, society will depart from regional centres into the urban centres of cities. Due to the spatial limitations that will arise because of this, it is predicted that an increase will occur in shared and immersive spaces.

Anita also highlighted the future developments that are currently on the forefront of research, these being:

  1. Sensors
  2. Wearables with biofeedback
  3. Smart objects (iOt)
  4. Gesture and voice (NUIS)
  5. Projections and holograms
  6. A.i and virtual assisants
  7. Artificial reality
  8. Sound (emmersive sound, sound follows you from room to room)

MEGAtrends

Describing the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, this week’s reading focuses on the megatrends that are shaping our future and the way we live our lives. Written by Klaus Schab; founder of the World Economics Forum and notable engineer, the report segments this revolution into three deeply interrelated clusters. Those being physical, digital and biological innovations.

Schab believes that there will be four main innovations in the physical world. These four innovations will occur:

  1. As advancements in 3D printing and additive manufacturing. With a new generation of ‘self-altering products’ that can respond to temperature.
  2. The creation of autonomous vehicles, who hold the ability to adapt to their environments.
  3. Advanced robotics, with accurate sensors who can access the cloud remotely and communicate with other robots
  4. And the creation of new materials, such as Graphene. A nanomaterial thinner than hair and stronger than steel.

The second notable revolution, he notes; will take place in the digital sphere. As we progress into an ‘on-demand’ or ‘gig’ economy, Schab believes that we too shall bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds via the spread of ‘tech-enabled platforms’. This is most closely resembled in apps such as Uber and Air Bnb. Where ‘underutilized assets’ are successfully being used to ‘match supply with demand in an accessible way’. The resourcefulness of this economy is therefore beneficial for all parties involved.

Finally, he believes that the third notable transformation will occur in biology. With the increase in data allowing for ‘precision medicine’. Personally, I have already been greatly impacted by the major breakthrough in this technology, as I underwent ‘Gamma Knife’ surgery earlier last year. This groundbreaking technology allowed me to be admitted to hospital for focus-beam radiation treatment targeted at a tumour in my brain. After only 4 hours, and with absolutely no pain and minimal side effects I was sent to rest and miraculously returned to work the next day. 

After reading this week’s article I was reminded of some of the personal research I had done into future technologies and the advances of marketing. Two great resources I have found in my searches have been from Hyper Island’s annual trend report; ‘Changes of Tomorrow’ and The Economists/Marketo’s trend report; ‘The path to 2020: Marketers seize the customer experience’. As I am somewhat of a nerd, I also have a subscription to Wired magazine and find their articles and insights very intriguing.