prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for January, 2014

Mac turns 30

Posted by prof e on January 24, 2014

Thirty years ago Steve Jobs and Apple Computer introduced Macintosh to the world. You may recall that the 1984 TV spot aired only once, and that was during the Superbowl in 1984. Of course the ad has appeared in many places since then, and is still held up as one if not the greatest TV spots of all time.

But I’ve addressed the 1984 spot in earlier posts so I’d like to focus on the affection that the creative community has for the Macintosh operating system and the Apple hardware that runs it. Whether you’re a graphic artist or musician, video editor or animator, the Mac is probably your computer of choice. From the start Apple’s attention to design and style was noticed by people who care about such things. In fact, Steve Jobs admits that his inspiration for building a better computer started with a typography class.

In the mid 1980s a Macintosh computer, a laser printer, and PageMaker software allowed graphic designers to create flyers, posters, pamphlets and other print pieces that rivaled what could be produced in a small print shop. A few years later audio recording and video editing software made large studios and production facilities appear to be unnecessary. The iLife software (iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, etc.) that shipped free with every Mac provided access to simple-to-use tools capable of creating amazing works of art. Of course, in the hands of amateurs there was plenty of dreadful art as well.

I was fortunate to have a MacPlus as my first computer at work. It had 1MB of RAM, a single floppy disk drive, and it cost about $2,599. I was able to create documents that I saved to a 720K floppy disk. Then I took the disk next door to my colleague who had his Mac attached to a laser printer. Those were exciting days!

This video by Apple captures some of the excitement and creative energy that Macintosh brought to the community of artists and those who defied the reign of Big Blue.

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16 and Not-So-Pregnant

Posted by prof e on January 13, 2014

16 and PregnantFinally some good news about teen pregnancy as reported today in the New York Times. If we can believe a study that is being released today, teen pregnancy is down and one factor may be (drum roll please) the media. Yes, you heard correctly. If the study by the National Bureau of Economic Research is to be believed, teens who watch more of 16 and Pregnant on MTV are less inclined to become teen moms. According to one quote presented in the NYT article, “people just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”

The study compared Nielsen ratings and birth records to discover that teenage pregnancy was declining faster in areas with higher ratings for this and similar reality TV shows. The researchers also found that social media activity and internet searches related to contraception also showed positive correlations to broadcasts.

Critics of these types of shows argue that they glamorize teen pregnancy and give tacit approval to risky behavior. Because of the counter-intuitive nature of these findings, this study should be reviewed carefully and replicated by other researchers. If reality TV really is teaching teens what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, there should be more examples of shows that are having a positive effect on this demographic by showing the negative consequences of poor choices.

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