Nearing the end of today’s work bubble: a precious afternoon spent in the warm womb of my office, getting stuff done. Since becoming a father some seven months ago, work has inverted its affective sign: formerly the thing I dreaded doing, I now rush to it, motivated both by the promise of uninterrupted hours and by the knowledge that, when I’ve finished for the day, I can go home to Zach and just be with him. Parenthood has forced compartmentalization on me, and I like the new boundaries in my life.
What I’ve done today: a smattering of course prep. This week in TV & New Media the topic is “Spaces and Screens,” and we’re reading a chapter from Newman and Levine’s Legitimizing Television; Daniel Chamberlin’s “Media Interfaces, Networked Media Spaces, and the Mass Customization of Everyday Life” from the FlowTV collection; and William Boddy’s “Is It TV Yet? The Dislocated Screens of Television in a Mobile Digital Culture,” from Bennett and Strange’s Television as Digital Media. A solid collection of essays that surprised me with their focus on the industrial side of things rather than the user/viewer’s experience of small screens; together the pieces paint a picture of media corporations in unpleasant throes of transformation, writhing in survival agonies like mammoths stuck in La Brea tar.
Although we haven’t spend a lot of time looking at advertising, based on prior conversations with the students, I suspect I know which way their reactions will go — they’ll be horrified at the predatory practices outlined in Boddy’s essay especially, which charts a range of obnoxious strategies for putting ads — the more customized and first-personal the better — in front of people at grocery stores, bus depots, medical waiting rooms, and gas stations. This morning I was assaulted by a gas station monitor blaring Chase Freedom commercials at me as I stood in the chill wind. Pinned between the car and the gas pump, I felt like an idling, pinging machine myself, a tank getting topped off with messages I didn’t ask for.