Archive for October, 2011

Week in Review: Potter, Netflix, Occupy, Redbox, and More

Still no time to write extended blog posts, so take a look at what som other people are writing instead:

  • David Poland discusses Warner’s plans to pull Harry Potter DVDs off the shelves on January 1. As Poland speculates, this will probably allow Warner to retool the discs to create an “all-in-one” UltraViolet, Blu-Ray, DVD artifact.
  • At least one analyst predicts a bleak future for Netflix, arguing that their low-price streaming model is unsustainable.
  • In other video rental news, Warner is now moving to force Blockbuster to wait until 28 days after a film has been available for purchase on DVD before it makes it available for rental. Blockbuster had been exempt from this “retail window” for the last two years, but it may be forced to join Redbox and Netflix in waiting to rent new release movies.
  • Redbox officially raised its prices. Now it will cost you $1.20 per day to rent DVDs from your friendly neighborhood kiosk. Reportedly this is due in part to increased transaction costs associated with debit cards.
  • Anthony Kaufman reports that directors Jonathan Demme an Jem Cohen have now produced videos about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Demme’s is available on YouTube.
  • YouTube’s top channels now get as many viewers as the top five cable channels, according to New Tee Vee.

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Week in Review: No Time to Write Edition

Here are some of the topics and issues I’ve been thinking about over the last few days (weeks, in some cases) while I’ve been away:

  • Jeffrey P. Jones, a media studies scholar at Old Dominion University, has a good historical overview of political humor in today’s Washington Post. I think there is a tendency to ignore some of the historical precedents for Colbert, Stewart, and all of the web-based political satire, but Jeffrey makes some useful connections here. Also, if you’re in the DC area, I hear the print edition has some illustrations that go along with the text.
  • I’m hoping to write a longer blog post about this later, but I’ve just been assigned a senior seminar for spring semester, and I am thinking about reviving my “Documenting Injustice” theme from back in 2007, when I last taught that course. I’ll probably start with some of the same texts (Evans and Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, etc), but I’m hoping to build toward more contemporary practices, especially the distributed efforts to document Occupy Wall Street (including Twitter streams and other ephemera), as well as the use of animation and other platforms to create “documentary” narratives, such as Waltz with Bashir. The course is for English majors, so I’m trying to balance film and written media carefully (books, stories, etc), as well as my students’ limited book budgets.
  • I’m also teaching our graduate level course, Technology in the Language Arts Classroom, and may do a little crowdsourcing soon to get ideas for updating that course. I learned, for example, that some local teachers are using Glogster for student projects, but if there are other similar resources out there, I’d love to hear about them.
  • Some of the early reviews are out of UltraViolet, the new digital locker service supported by most of the major studios, and New Tee Vee is reporting that they are mostly negative. Given the company’s ultra-high-profile launch and the fact that it often takes users a while to figure out how to incorporate a new technology into their media routines, I think some complaints are inevitable. As Home Media Magazine asserts, consumers will likely have to be “educated” (or persuaded) to see the long-term benefits of the service. Of course, I’m not convinced that Ultraviolet is answering a specific consumer necessity, given that we no longer need to own copies of movies (physical or cloud-stored) anymore. Still very interested to see how this plays out.

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Qwik Change

Well, that didn’t take long. In case you missed it elsewhere, Netflix has decided to abandon its plans to spin off its DVD-by-mail service into a separate company. I said at the time that it was a bad idea, and I’m still convinced that it was a boneheaded choice, one that failed to grasp the significance of Netflix’s much deeper catalog of DVDs.

The announcement that Netflix was abandoning its Qwikster plans was much more succinct than the original announcement, suggesting that the company was still recovering from the bad press. Brian Stelter has a good overview of what went wrong, noting that Netflix is in the process of creating even more original programming (including discussions to revive cancelled TV series).

More later hopefully, but I’m in the midst of some serious deadlines.

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