Monday, April 23, 2007

Everyware Telecommunications Corner Deli

Media division of labor

When I met with Mimi Ito and Heather Horst at USC to talk about the mobile media research for pgl and find out more about what she and her research group are doing, we talked largely about class demarcations in media use.

What does this mean? It means that class differences are articulates not simply in regard to the cost of being connected (networked) but the infrastructure around consumer choices and intention of media use.

For example, video games––particularly consoles––may cost the same as a PC, but you find strong divisions between who uses in those spheres. Nearly universally, middle class kids are more likely to have personal PCs and, thus, are better adapted users of Internet resources. It’s not an economics issues (same money spent) but one of intention. The Iranian blogsphere looks more like the US one than not. That said, activist groups–religions advocates, political activists, etc.–are a very strong exception to the theory floated above.

Spike Lee and Russen Disko Berlin

In Western Europe, and certainly this is true for Berlin, many of the “grey industry” media shops are run by Turkish or Arab immigrants. They are the telecommunication equivalent of corner delis (which had been run on lock down by Koreans for many years in NYC, thus the Spike Lee spoof in
DTRT). There is an African contingency as well, but as far as I can tell they tend to service a more insular community while the Turks and Middle Easterners are all purpose and nondenominational. They are in the U-bahn, major shopping streets, etc. The services are international calling, Internet, and all kinds of mobile phone (“handy”) helpers from topping up the pay-as-you-go card or breaking proprietary locks phone to make it SIM swappable.

In general, stores are closed here Sundays, and most certainly when I got here on Easter Sunday they were doubly closed. Not so for the non-franchised immigrant run media shops.

The émigré fiction of Russian-born writer
Vladimir Kaminer now living in Berlin has been a big hit. He spoofs German mannerisms but also the crazy quirks of Vietnamese groceries running many of the neighborhood grocers here. The joke is that items are prices according to size. Toilet paper is more expensive than batteries.


My questions, just sticking to the games example is this: is machinima a UCC mode that crosses class boundaries?—MMO play seems to. Let me know what you think.