About a week ago I was sitting on a train to Sydney and the Lady next to me was watching ‘Orange Is The New Black’ on her iPhone. A few days later I was doing my groceries and a man was listening to earphones coming out of a tablet whilst doing his shopping. Thanks to the development of mobile screen devices like the smartphone or the tablet, individuals can access personalised pieces of media almost anywhere they go. This also includes public spaces. Should we be reverting back to a conversation with a stranger in public, or are we more so becoming involved in our little online bubbles? Is what happens in a public space, no longer relevant to our lives? I thought I would use this blog post to highlight how present media viewing devices are in the developed world and what this now means for the future of our viewing habits and moreover the changes to our perception of public spaces.
A public space is ‘defined as a space that is accessible to the general public. It is the opposite of private space and it is governed by formal and informal rules of conduct” (K, Bowles, 2015). Examples include a hallway, a park, a waiting room, a train, or a shopping center. All of these places can be accessed by anyone. There is no filtering or limitations to these public places (excluding entry cost i.e. train). These public spaces generally have some sort of media available to the public. For example in a waiting room, generally there is a television and magazines. In the shopping center there is billboards, television, radio. Now with the smartphone, everybody is accessing their own microcosm of media and ignoring the wider picture of the situation they are in.
The iPhone comes with me everywhere, even though I like to think I am a distant media user, it is always with me. It gives me a sense of assurance that I am contactable, that I can contact and that I will never get lost. Travelling overseas last year I did not even have Internet access and yet the iPhone came with me. I am a picture perfect example of the phone user when waiting for class, before a lecture starts or catching the bus to Uni. Since studying media usage at University, I physically try to not use my phone when I am in these “public spaces” or “non-spaces”. Non-spaces was defined by Marc Auge who explained that they are are transitional places designed for people who will not stay” (K, Bowles, 2015). My handhold media device definitely was getting a work out in these areas. Since stopping myself, I can see a lot of my generation also utilises this time for their devices and personal medias and they have every right to do so.
Furthermore, Susan Luckman a media researcher from the University of South Australia, outlined in 2012 how there is an ‘increased demand from global consumers, Australians in particular, to engage with current literature across multiplatforms’ (S, Luckman 2012), the phone and tablet now becoming very prominent devices for these platforms. Whilst this research is a few years old, it is even more so prevalent today with introduction of multiple screens in our lives. Due to this demand, production houses are creating “feature films” that go for around 90 minutes, specifically made “for digital platforms, such as Netflix, iTunes and Amazon (L, Koziowski, 2014). This is due to the increase in demand for films and television shows available to watch over the Internet. We are the “YouTube Generation” (L, Koziowski, 2014) and essentially what we own is a “cinema in our pockets” (S, Luckman 2012).
These mobile devices have “made possible the creation of large niche audiences that may be spatially diffuse but can constitute a powerful market force”(M, Hills 2014). Whilst these feature films will not end business all together for the cinema, it does create new possibilities for the film industries, Internet streaming sites and technology companies such as Microsoft and Apple.
So, what does this mean for the future of our media viewing habits? In regards to the train as a public space, I personally get motion sickness if I watch my iPhone screen for too long. However there are a lot of people who commute everyday for three hours a day and they have every right to be glued to their screens rather than the daily grind of the commute scene. The commute is part of their day, so is their media viewing habits, so is their seat on the train. They are in a public space governed by unofficial rules, so they have a right to focus all of their attention to their tiny screen. The public space may soon loose the background buzz of chatter and create a whole new visual scene of heads faced towards tiny screens.
Bowles, K 2015, Public televisions and personal devices: Passing the time in public, Lecture Notes, 31st August 2015, Semester 2, BCM240, University of Wollongong, Wollongong Australia <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/484308/mod_resource/content/1/BCM240%202015%20week%206.pdf>
Bowles, K 2015, Strangers in Public: Cinema Spaces, Lecture Notes, 24th August 2015, Semester 2, BCM240, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/480228/mod_resource/content/2/BCM240%202015%20week%205.pdf>
Hills, M, 2014, ‘Cult cinema and the ‘mainstreaming’ discourse of technological change: revisiting subcultural capital in liquid modernity’, Journal for New Review Film and Television Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 100-121<http://www-tandfonline.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/pdf/10.1080/17400309.2014.982928>
Luckman, S, 2012, ‘Mobile Screens and Future story-worlds: Film in the age of mobile platforms and cross-media storytelling’, The International Journal of Interdisciplinary social Science, Vol. 6, no. 8, pp. 94-109 <http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=9&sid=880cf03f-ffa1-412c-a1ad-af3818476d64@sessionmgr111&hid=119>