Reader Report about Lyn Spigel's Media Homes

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Reader report Emerging Media: Broadcasting-Media Homes Lyn Spigel Media Homes: Then and Now Key aspects: Spigel is remembered, by the energy crisis I California, at how many devices need electricity, and the relation between everyday life and media usage. She defines the phenomena of dependence and reliance on devices as media home. She uses a genealogical approach in order to enunciate the media usage over the past five decades. She distinguishes three different concepts regarding media usage,
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  Reader report Emerging Media: Broadcasting-Media Homes Lyn Spigel Media Homes: Then and Now Key aspects: Spigel is remembered, by the energy crisis I California, at how many devices need electricity, and the relation between everyday life and media usage. She defines the phenomena of dependence and reliance on devices as media home . She uses a genealogical approach in order to enunciate the media usage over the past five decades. She distinguishes three different concepts regarding media usage, namely: Theatricality, mobility and sentience. These three concepts define the diverse stages of the domestic home related to media. This results in three different domestic media housing types: home theatre, Mobile home and smart home. After World War II, television became more familiar in domestic housing situations. Television was either defined as ‘home theatre’ or ‘window on the world’. Theatricality and mobility are terms in order to define the cultural and technological values of television. These terms are also used as metaphors of middle class homes and bourgeois families. Moreover, the theatricality of television refers partially to the decoration and setting of domestic homes. Furthermore, television was promoted as a substitute for going to the theatre, which can be supported by several magazine commercials. In the same commercials, romantic and nostalgic sphere of family homes were represented. These commercials even suggested that viewers, while they were present in their own safe homes, could be participating in the world by watching television. Spigel defines the content of these commercials as utopian dreams. However, social studies asserted that watching television could result in the isolation of woman, and magazines warned for negative results of watching television regarding the family balance. Thus, the status of television was concerned with utopian dreams and anxieties about family life. At the end of the 1950s, the theatre homes transferred to the concept of mobile homes. Citizen were passionate about the idea of traveling out of space and satellite technologies. This fanatic idea of space can be detected in several layers of the culture in those days. Namely in: architecture, cars, recipes and so on. By using marketing strategies, citizens were thought to believe that by buying such things, they bought progress, according to Spigel. This progress can also be detected in the development of mobile television sets, which proposed to transport the viewer out of their homes. The ideal of television altered from being a domestic device, into a device that had the ability to transport the interior outdoors. Spigel refers to Raymond Williams, whom defined cultural and technological forms of television after the 1950s. Williams claimed that the  paradox of television consisted out of: being part of a bigger community, but also comply with the ideology of having privacy. However, according to Williams television was the solution to this paradox, because television could bring the whole world into your own private living room. The company Motorola even advertised that watching television could be an outdoor sport. This, by using a portable television set people could perform exercises by imitating the exercising program on television. Instead of being an passive viewer, one could be an active viewer. The notion of portability of the television set was portrayed as an mode of experience. However, in 1963, research indicated that portable television sets were almost never moved. Whereas in the 1950s the family ideology was attached to the television set, in the 1960s this shifted into representations of female viewers. This resulted in the liberation of fixed family conditions. Furthermore, a new form of sportive and romantic masculinity was represented in advertisements. However, several stereotypes of woman and house holding tasks did not vanish in commercials and advertisements. During the same time, the remote control was develop, which was a symbol for the relationship between the man and the machine according to Spigel. In retro perspective these stereotypes, the liberation of restrains by television, and the progress, which could all be encountered by watching television, can nowadays seem outdated. However, Spigel states, that these themes are still central in contemporary society regarding domesticity and new technologies. According to Spigel, telecommunication offers mobility, but more importantly sentient spaces. The latter is also defined as smart homes, which includes many remote controlling digital technologies. Furthermore, on several levels the real and the digital and virtual environment are becoming intertwined. Such levels are, architecture and interior, or even a complete digital house. However, the same ideology occurs compared to the former decades. On the one hand, people prefer an escape, and on the other hand people want an domestic environment. The development of smart skinned houses, where computing and architecture converge, could be a solution to have both ideologies according to Spigel. Likewise, because of digital technology, work space and vacation space are also converging. Spigel refers to several examples, which indicate that houses are becoming smarter and more adjusted to the ‘needs’ of their owners. Spigel asserts, that even in a high-tech industry where the smart home is promoted, the idea of nostalgia will never vanish. Concluding Spigel claims, that the above examples of housing forms do not imply progress, and that they all reflect the same values to some degree. These values contain: family, nostalgia, futurism and anxieties.  Thoughts regarding the Spigel text: I especially like about this text is the historical approach of Spigel. She describes almost fifty years of television and other digital appliances. The cultural function of the television seems to be the central focus of her text. She argues how television was used and represented in commercials. Regarding the latter, it became obvious that a certain stereotype defined the culture that was represented within commercials and advertisements. Therefore, I am questioning the cultural pattern she delimited in her text. One the one side, the cultural usage of media is more like a paradox, because people are uncertain whether to strive for freedom, or their domestic environment. On the other side, it seems almost to be a sort of circular phenomena. I am prefer the circular phenomena, because within a paradox there is no room for a certain choice. In my opinion, people did prefer certain technologies or representations. For example, in the beginning of the development of television people preferred the domestic home. After this was establish by the majority of the society, advertisers created the need for freedom en liberation, which resulted in portable televisions. At the end, Spigel indicated similarities between the domestic and nostalgic ideology of the 1950s, and the same ideology which is dominant in more recent times. For me, this indicates a more circular pattern, were people always strive for something else after they accomplished their srcinal needs. After knowing this article is based on two orations, it is more logical why Spigel uses so many examples. At first, these examples are contributing to the content of the text. However, at some point Spigel uses too many example. The latter is the only demerit of her text, but as described above it makes more sense knowing this is based on orations. The main advantage of the text are the insights one acquires, after reading the text. People are always complaining that the past is always better, and on the other hand people are always looking forward to the future. Spigel demonstrated this by elaborating on the content of commercials, which indicates exactly this paradox. It is difficult to describe parts of history, without referring to examples or things of the contemporary society. Spigel did an excellent job, by maintaining the reasoning adjusted to the time she described. I think the key value of this text could be that culture develops, but that this does not imply progress. Moreover, Spigel shows that the core of human beings nature stays almost the same. Always striving for better appliances, or for a better future, and at the same time looking nostalgically back to the past. Probably, not the advertisements or developed media inherent utopian dreams, but human beings are  an utopian dream themselves.
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