Posts tagged ‘Media ownership’


Return to Zork: Why Ownership Matters

Our class from 10/18 brought up several media references to hybridity in cultural media. At one point, the first computer game Zork was mentioned, and it got me digging into my past as an early gamer, which led to this post about media ownership and its role in curating content and shifting culture.

After some due diligence, I found out that the game I played in 1993 was Return to Zork. It was several phases past the original Infocom game, complete with color graphics and even some video actors. Ironically, one of the enstoned actresses is Blake Lively’s mother! But I digress…

Naturally, discovering childhood treasures, I wanted to download the game and play it. But computers surpassing Mac’s OS X 8 system no longer run this game–they retired their “classic games” apparently. Essentially, unless someone now buys an old computer (assuming it still runs), he or she will be unlikely to ever play this game again. While many PC users can still run this particular game for a long time to come, it still sparked an interest in closed technological systems.

The present reality is the development of games that are so realistic, they could be CGI effects placed in motion pictures. Admittedly, my nostalgia for simplicity crops up in this context, which may be why I stopped playing these games over time.

If a media company decided not to run certain content any longer, it can phase it out through new technology or by limiting technological interoperability. If lovers of classic film were not restoring old movies to DVD, that film would ultimately expire and fail to work without old operating equipment. The same is true if a media company decides to stop giving content its functionality.

The critique is not so much on the right and wrong nature of these kinds of evolutionary technologies, but rather a recognition that even through developing new forms of communication, media owners can effectively shift culture away from previous communication. It also implies that media preserve culture and that archiving history speaks as much to our cultural flows as who currently owns media outlets.


The belly of the beast!

So next week I venture into the belly of the beast.   I will be in the Time Warner Center in NYC next Monday to view a taping of Anderson Cooper’s new talk show.   I applied for the tickets on a whim and what do you know I got them!  Yes it will be cool to see a famous journalist/celebrity up close, but as someone really interested in media and communications, it will also be interesting to see how a TV show is produced.  I hear the studios are always smaller than they look on TV and I’ve been warned to bring  a sweater in case it gets chilly (something about moderating the temperature to ensure the cameras properly function…who knew?)

Anyway, that’s just a brief aside that neatly dovetails with our discussion about the global media system and media ownership this week!  Coincidentally, I will be going the offices of one of world’s largest media conglomerations.  Again, as some interested in media and communications, I have long been interested in the prospect of working at a place like TimeWarner.  I work at small non-profit now, so the idea of working for a large corporation with offices all over the world is appealing to me.  Funnily enough, the very things that I consider to potential benefits of working at TimeWarner are seen as nefarious symbols of too much ownership concentrated among too few.  Robert McChesney really sounded the alarm about media ownership in his piece and I do see his point.  In order to have a rich and dynamic public sphere, many voices have to be included and one should be vigilant that a corporations like TimeWarner doesn’t use its power to crowd others out.

As a various consumer of media, I think it’s a privilege to live in the U.S. and feel like I have access to whatever kind of information I want, even if I have to spend a little more time to find it.  Perhaps I would feel differently if I lived in another part of the world.   The Thussu reading discusses how non-Western countries are concerned about media flows somehow interfering with their social/political affairs.  If we want to get metaphorical, I suppose the U.S. and it’s media consumers are on high ground where they have the vantage point to survey other media flows?