Friday Links: Big Ideas, Amazon, Mobile Consumption

In the spirit of the Nieman Journalism Lab’s Week in Review posts (one of which I’ll discuss in more detail below), I’m thinking about doing something similar, a weekly blog post that highlights some of the stories I’ve been following. It probably wouldn’t be that much different than the periodic links posts I’ve been doing for several years, but I’d like to formalize it just a little. I’m anticipating a busy semester–I have some big publication deadlines, some potentially demanding committee work, and all of the usual teaching obligations–so a weekly links roundup might be the best way to stay engaged online. Classes at Fayetteville State started yesterday, and while I’m quite excited about my new crop of students, starting a new semester (especially one where you are moving to a new office) has taken quite a bit of energy.

Thinking about Big Ideas: With that in mind, I’ll start by highlighting some of the other responses to Neal Gabler’s recent NYT column, in which he argued that social media is contributing to the waning of Big Ideas. as the Nieman Journalism Lab pointed out, there were a number of insightful responses to Gabler, and one of the strongest came from Megan Garber who argues that Gabler’s concept of Big Ideas is complicit with a more traditional idea of Big Media. But I think her more crucial point is that Gabler overlooks a number of Big Ideas that have been taken for granted or naturalized into our daily lives, such as Google and Wikipedia (whether we like these changes or not, there is little doubt that our concepts of information, research, and knowledge have been utterly transformed by these resources). Related: Wikipedia is also an example of the practices of crowdsourcing that complicate the notions of individual authors stumbling upon Big Ideas through “eureka” moments. Instead, many of our transformative ideas are the result of collective activity. Also god on Gabler: Stephen Baker and Mike Masnick.

Digital Delivery News: There has been some discussion of the Amazon has announced that they now have more streaming titles available than Netflix (over 100,000, in fact), which is, of course, a notable achievement. New Tee Vee warns that we shouldn’t get caught up in mere numbers, given that having a large number of titles is no guarantee of quality. However, it is a clear indication that multiple digital delivery systems (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, Mubi) will likely be able to coexist for some time. Matt Burns, however, argues that Amazon may be positioned to challenge Netflix’s “dominance” when it comes to digital delivery.

Curating Audiences: New Tee Vee also discusses some of the ways in which Facebook may begin to function as a means for the media industries to track TV and movie viewing habits more effectively. As online advertising becomes increasingly viable, the ability to “curate audiences,” to find and target precisely who is watching a specific show, will become increasingly important. With that in mind, New Tee Vee alerts us to the launch of Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings, which can match individualized demographic data with online ad viewing.

Curating Audiences II: Also worth noting: Briabe Mobile has done some interesting research tracking the ways in which Hispanic audiences use mobile media to engage with movies. Their research seems to confirm some recent research by Pew that suggests that Hispanic and African-American groups tend to be particularly active users of mobile technologies.

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