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“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” - Sigmund Freud
IN THIS ISSUE:
The Myth of Post-MIT Careers
Guest Article by Stuart Thompson Ray Balberman
Hear What You’ve Been Missing Things to do Before You Graduate
MIT Soph Team and much more Disclaimer: The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. Its contents do not reflect the opinion of the University Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.
The Great American Soap Opera
The genre that refuses to die
Winning Hearts, Losing Minds
New Kids on the Block
Three Stunning Additions to your MITSC
Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood firstname.lastname@example.org
HEAD COPY EDITOR
FIMS’ Search Engine
The Research Help Desk
Letter from the President
Taylor Pearce email@example.com
Mary Wong firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING AND WEB EDITOR
The Myth of Post-MIT Careers
It takes more than a piece of paper to land a media job
The Blindside of Sex
Jonathan Forani email@example.com
The truth about music sales
Our Social Network Obsession
And why we can’t get away from it all
Ray Balberman, Paula Brent, Erika Casupanan, Gillian Marsh, Linley McConnell, Lauren Nisbet, Taylor Rivers, Jennifer Spence, Emily Stewart, Stuart Thompson, Julian Uzielli, Colleen Watson
Print is not Dead
But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a blog, right?
Taking Back Our Online Identities
Gillian Cummings, Olivia Griggs, Liam Grue, Meg Hackney, Warren Kong, Gillian Marsh, Matthew Winquist
Things to Do Before You Graduate
MIT SOPH TEAM
May Chow, Meg French, Liam Grue, Katie Hetherman, Vincy Kwong, Beth Lucente, Andie Wright
Hear What You’ve Been Missing
What is the importance of music fidelity in the age of the earbud?
Do You Want to Contribute to the Zine?
An mitZine Flowchart
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We’re always looking out for talented writers, illustrators, copy editors, artists, and other contributors. Make your voice heard and your work seen in the official FIMS undergraduate student publication. Contact Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood for information or inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit us online at www.mitsc.ca
READ THE ZINE ONLINE
WINNING HEARTS, LOSING MINDS
I was hesitant to write about the possible faculty strike—by the time you read this a contract could very well have been reached, or the strike might already be in full swing—but I decided that the number of MIT themes surrounding this issue deserved some attention. If a strike here at Western is news to you, westerngazette.ca/uwofa is a good place to start getting informed. affirm that they are “fully committed to reaching an appropriate and responsible negotiated settlement”. Cryptic press releases and messages emailed directly to students have managed to placate undergrads without addressing any real areas of contention. Assuming the administration has good reasons to impose new provisions on faculty, they have done very little to make them public.
security and research freedom. Likewise, proposed sanctions on any activity deemed to reflect poorly on the “Western Brand” could cost your criticallythinking, socially active MIT and MPI profs their jobs and dissuade competent outsiders from coming here to replace them. Ultimately, the long-term quality of education at UWO is at stake. Advocates for the UWOFA will tell you to speak your mind and email UWO president Amit Chakma at email@example.com, but I worry that there is very little we can actually do as students. Despite being important stakeholders at the university, undergraduates at Western do not have access to the kind of relevant, uncensored information we need to take a position and take action on this issue. It looks like we are destined to suffer either a potentially devastating strike in the short-term (lost time, credits, and tuition), or a disastrous decline in the quality of education in the long-term.
Although students are essentially an afterthought in these negotiations, the public relations battle (read: propaganda war) to gain student support is alive and well. The UWO Faculty Association has cried out against the “culture of control” that the administration is trying to impose, and published extensive guides for faculty and students about how to prepare for a strike. Faculty have made impassioned speeches to their classes, written letters to campus publications, and urged students to write to the administration demanding explanations. The UWOFA even hosted an Information Picket on campus to “reach out to Western students”.
Either way, we lose. Why should you care? Any significant changes to Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood Through a variety of media including Facebook the institution of tenure will cost FIMS some of its and Twitter, Western’s administration continues to best professors as they seek universities with job mitZine Editor-in-Chief
Unfortunately, a confidentiality clause in the negotiations has made it very difficult for students to learn just how close both parties really are to reaching an agreement. The administration and UWOFA are apparently divided on several key, ideological issues (their definitions of “fair” and “necessary” are incredibly disparate), and without first agreeing on what “academic freedom” really means, it appears both sides are going to have a nearly impossible time reaching a settlement. To make matters even more complicated, pay and benefits have still not been discussed.
ARE YOU A
IN MIT, MTP, OR MPI?
DO YOU SING, PLAY IN A BAND, DJ, PRODUCE, OR MAKE MUSIC IN ANY OTHER WAY?
Contact the mitZine about being featured in an upcoming article about musicians in our faculty:
Sam Allen, MIT photo by Thomas Pilgrim
THREE STUNNING ADDITIONS TO YOUR MITSC
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Alumni Relations Commissioner Hello mittens. I’m this year’s Alumni Relations Commissioner and it’s my role is to find out what past MIT students are doing so that YOU have a better idea of all the dyno opportunities that await you with a degree in MIT/MPI/MTP. Careers. Jobs. Real life. Curious phenomena. So whether you’re an aspiring journalist, filmmaker, activist, or b-boy (like myself), I want to put you in touch with people who are already there and who are willing to help brothers and sisters get there too. So start dreaming, wild ones. The future is coming. Way fast. firstname.lastname@example.org
First Year Representative Hey MIT! A little about me: I love Nutella, dancing, Ryan Reynolds, and Latin. As one of your first year reps it’s my job to make your first year in MIT the best year of your life. That, and the job to make MIT look like the most badass faculty on campus. If you have any questions or concerns about the program or just want to put any ideas out there, just let either Taylor or me know! Never take life seriously, no one gets out alive anyway. email@example.com
First Year Representative HEY MIT! I’m very excited to be the first year representative of the most badass faculty at Western. I look forward to all the MIT events this year, particularly anything that involves dancing. I hope to provide the first years with a voice on council and put together a wicked event for you all to attend. But hmm.. what else, oh! I love music, I own way too much plaid, and am full of useless knowledge about pop culture. That is all. See you soon! firstname.lastname@example.org edited by May Chow graduate? Hopefully Paula and this new position will be able to help you figure it out. Paula has been working hard to collect alumni contact information and will be creating a blog that profiles FIMS alumni. The blog, which will be updated throughout the year, will feature an alumni, their career history, and what they have been involved in at Western. Pretty neat, huh?
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Welcome to the first of a series of “Letter from the President” blurbs to let you guys know what I’ve been working on. Since September, it’s been very common for FIMS students to come to me asking, “Sooo... how is being president going? Wait... uh... what does the president do exactly?” I suppose it’s probably a good idea to clear up what I do. The job of the MITSC President, in a nut shell, is to ensure council runs smoothly. The responsibilities include delegating tasks, acting as a supportive resource to all members of council, familiarizing myself with USC policies by attending Clubs Training and Clubs Finance Training, and ensuring that the MITSC Constitution is upheld by all members. The president’s responsibilities also vary throughout the year. For example, in September a large responsibility is filling vacant council positions, in January a responsibility is organizing debates during the USC election period, and in March the president works on transitioning the incoming president and councillor.
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As the MITSC President, I represent undergraduate FIMS students on FIMS committees including Faculty Council, Faculty Town Hall, Space Committee, and as the Chair of the Undergraduate Student Fund Committee. I also act as a link between FIMS students and the USC on committees such as the University Students’ Council, the Standing Communications Policy Committee, and the USC Presidential Roundtable. That probably sounds like a lot of meetings, but I am working to represent all of you. So if you ever have any feedback on the MITSC, the USC, or the faculty, please let me know so I can direct your feedback to the proper place.
As the Chair of the Undergraduate Student Fund Committee, I’ve also been working with the committee to review funding proposals, approve and facilitate projects, and ensure that all of the projects are beneficial to FIMS students. The MITSC is also So what has been happening since September? working on programming for the fall which include Three new members have been added to the MPI events, a charity coffee house, a social event, MITSC. The two first year reps, Linley McConnell and much more! and Taylor Rivers, are a rad pair who will be the link That’s all for now, kids. Remember, I always love between first year students and the council. This to chat. year the MITSC has also introduced a new position called the Alumni Relations Commissioner, which Erika Casupanan is filled this year by the lovely Paula Brent. Ever MITSC President wonder what happens to FIMS students after they email@example.com
IT TAKES MORE THAN A PIECE OF PAPER TO LAND A MEDIA JOB
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ll probably exit MIT jobless, penniless and directionless. I’ve seen it happen: entire classrooms filled with people who do school work for four years and nothing else. At the end of it all, they walked away with little more than a piece of paper and a head filled with theory. After all, MIT is theory-based program, not a professional one. So while engineering students graduate and become engineers, you graduate and become a graduate. A lot of MIT students have none of the practical skills employers are looking for. But there’s a bright side. Unlike Ivey, MIT is not overloaded with homework, meaning spare time is easier to come by. Class schedules are average, meaning you’ll have Fridays off and weekends free. And for those of you without part-time jobs, your commitments outside of class amount to little more than shining your shoes for the APK Live. This makes you a great candidate for some volunteering. I don’t mean soup kitchens and pet hospitals. I mean getting your hands dirty in newspapers, magazines, video, and radio—all on campus. And if you want to leave MIT with anything more than a degree, you’ll have to get involved with one of them. especially rocky, with advertising down and costs cut across the board. Young recruits have to show employers why they’re one in a million—literally. There are no more handouts. For MIT students, this means doing some real work at CHRW, the Gazette or the mitZine. And I mean right now.
THE MYTH OF POST-MIT CAREERS
written by Stuart Thompson, MIT Alum and Gazette Editor-in-Chief // illustrated by Liam Grue // edited by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood came not from the classroom but from the newsroom. Stephen Brunt, a sports columnist for the Globe and Mail, worked at the Gazette when he was studying political science at Western. Like hundreds of Gazette alumni working in the industry, he says At the end of every year, I see a handful of MIT employers want graduates who’ve been involved students walk into the Gazette’s office. Nervous, with campus media. shy and unsure of themselves, they say they’re “I haven’t met many people in journalism who interested in journalism. The problem is they’ve were worth a damn who didn’t have some kind never tried it and they’ve got one month before they of university newspaper stint,” he told the Alumni graduate. Then the opportunity is lost forever. Gazette a few years ago. “It draws those who have With no experience, you can walk into the Gazette’s a genuine passion for the craft.” office and get published the next day. Trial-by-fire Whatever you make of your time at Western, journalism is the best training on campus, period. consider that places like the Gazette, CHRW, and And that paper’s no small potatoes either. The the mitZine all close their doors once you graduate. Gazette is the only campus daily in all of Canada, And if you want employers to open theirs, you’ll printing 11,000 copies four times a week to serve need more than that piece of paper. about 30,000 students, staff, and faculty. If you’re just looking for resume padding, you’ll find it with campus media. Volunteer with the Gazette five times and you become “staff.” That doesn’t sound too bad for a resume, eh? LEARN MORE www.westerngazette.ca/contributions www.chrwradio.com/training www.mitsc.ca/zine.html
But if you actually apply yourself, you can have stories to tell employers. You can talk about chasing These are the stakes. We’re at a time when entry- down leads and writing breaking news stories. You level jobs are rare, unemployment rates are high, can talk about interviewing artists with international and competition is stiff. The media industry is fame. You can talk about how your best education
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AND WHY WE CAN’T GET AWAY FROM IT ALL
written and illustrated by Gillian Marsh // edited by Liam Grue Physical social networks have thrived since religion and the creation of churches, but as time passes, their digital counterpart is becoming even more of an obsession. With the introduction of online communities such as Friendster, MySpace, and most recently Facebook and Twitter, have we become too involved? As a student in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Facebook seems to make its way into every lecture and every tutorial of every class. But as I entered my social networking class last month and the weeks passed, I realized the true extent of this generation’s fixation. In our first class, we were discussing—duh— Facebook. A girl raised her hand and said something along the lines of: “No matter where I intend to go on the internet, I always automatically type ‘facebook. com’ into my URL box, before re-typing the URL I meant to write.” Though I can’t say I do the same, it was shocking to me that this was said and that others seemed to relate. It made me question this generation’s dependence on social networks and where I fell on this scale of the affected. Nearing the end of September, I saw this sort of obsessive behaviour again as two of the largest online communities faced very public technical issues. Within two days of each other, Facebook and Twitter were struck by complications that led to user outcries and hundreds of news stories.
OUR SOCIAL NETWORK OBSESSION
On September 21st, Twitter experienced a hack where ‘tweets’ of blocked-out text generated popup windows that redirected users to pornographic websites. Though this was the first hack on Twitter, many users did not even notice the issue because they were ‘tweeting’ through alternative sites such as ÜberTwitter and “bit.ly”. for photos and information really impact us? If we can no longer remember the birthdays of our best friends or get people together without making a Facebook event for it, are we not too involved? Yet there is something inside of us that when we think about our reliance, we just push away. Almost all of us feed off these websites and watch those who have allowed us to see. Without issue, we log on every day and share more than we really should , often checking back throughout the day to see what else is new.
On the 23rd, Facebook was disrupted after having issues with a third-party networking provider that caused the site to be slow or unavailable to some users. Although Facebook has been down in the past, a few hours without it creates quite a stir By no means am I suggesting we give up these among its users. social networks. For some it would be impossible, In both cases, it did not take more than an hour before and I can admit giving up Facebook isn’t number news stories surfaced and users of one network one on my list of priorities. I probably seem rather posted on the other about their dissatisfaction with fanatical as this article goes on, but I’ve slowly the temporary complications. At this point, you’ve realized throughout the years that posting less is probably already forgotten about this incident. better. After thinking about our generation’s obsession, I remember the day that Facebook went down. I was talking to my roommate about a friend of mine and was unsure if my roommate had met the friend. I immediately decided to show her pictures of them on Facebook. As the page slowly loaded, I—admittedly—was slightly annoyed at the inconvenience, giving up on the search after a few minutes. I found myself realizing my dependence on the site. So how does the instinctive typing of ‘facebook.com’ and reliance on these networks In our digital age, thinking about our connections and the impacts of these connections is important. If we continue our blind faith, we will no longer be able to think logically about the information we share. This information must be seen as a bullet shot from a gun—once the trigger’s been pulled, we can’t bring that bullet back. And that’s a feeling we don’t want to become obsessed with.
TAKING BACK OUR ONLINE IDENTITIES
written by Julian Uzielli // illustrated by Warren Kong // edited by Beth Lucente Facebook is creepy and weird. There, I said it. Unless your privacy settings are as high as possible (and the default settings give you no privacy at all), pretty much anyone on your hundreds-strong friends list can look you up, creep your photos and interactions with other people, and generally invade your privacy. Due to Facebook, that one guy you met once a year ago, added as a friend and haven’t spoken to since (admit it, you’re thinking of someone) probably knows more about your personal life than your parents. All your Facebook information is stored on a remote server, accessible quite easily by anyone who can guess your (probably simple) password—or if your privacy settings are at the default minimum, anyone with a web connection. Did I mention that I’m a Facebook addict? Call it hypocrisy, but I just can’t bite the bullet and delete my profile. It’s not the social networking aspect that bothers me; to be sure, it’s a valuable tool for procrastinators and responsibility-shirkers everywhere (it’s pretty good for staying connected with friends, too). Sure, it’s a productivity vampire, but damn if it isn’t entertaining. What bothers me, and thousands of like-minded individuals, is the privacy concerns. True, my privacy settings may be at almost the maximum level, and yes, I don’t use my real surname on my profile, but that nagging concern is always there: whatever I post will be there forever, floating on a server that I can’t control, and which is accessible to millions of others. What we need is a social network with all the social benefits of Facebook without the privacy Moglen at NYU concerning privacy issues online. concerns, and four students from NYU have come They dreamed up a social network that removed up with just the thing. the middleman in the cloud and connected users directly to one another, and decided to make a They call it Diaspora: “the privacy aware, personally summer project out of it. They started to put the controlled, do-it-all, open source social network”. word out, setting up a fundraiser on Kickstart. It’s still in development, but it seeks to address com so that they could support themselves while many of the common privacy concerns with online devoting their summers to the project. Their goal social networking. While early screenshots show was to raise $10,000; to date, they have raised over that the user interface is clearly Facebook-inspired, $200,000. Last month they released the source there are two major differences with Diaspora: first code onto Github, a Google Docs-type website for is that it runs on open-source software, meaning it collaborative software development, and within a can be edited and improved by anyone who wishes week they were the tenth most popular project on to contribute. Second, and most importantly, it is the site. Apparently they aren’t the only ones who totally decentralized. Unlike Facebook, where users value privacy online. upload their data to the cloud, Diaspora users will be the masters of their own data. Each computer Diaspora is far from ready for consumer release; running Diaspora is called a “seed”, and each seed everyone working on the project is doing so as a essentially acts as a small server on the network: volunteer, and there is still plenty of programming all your data stays right where it is, and you retain to be done. But it is real, and it is coming to a seed full ownership and rights over it. If you decided to near you. Whether it will catch on or is doomed to remove some embarrassing pictures after a night of be lost in the sea of failed social networks remains drinking, for example, you wouldn’t have to worry to be seen. For now, I suppose I’m stuck with about them still being archived on the cloud or being a total hypocrite, denouncing Facebook’s anyone else’s server. Once they’re gone, they’re social panopticon in my status updates. However, gone for good. considering the immense community support for Diaspora on Kickstart and Github, and the growing This is the central philosophy behind Diaspora: public backlash against Mark Zuckerberg’s war on sharing and privacy don’t have to be mutually privacy, I think this could be just the paradigm shift exclusive. Diaspora’s student founders, Dan the social networking landscape needs. Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer, and Ilya Zhitomirskiy, were inspired to begin their project For more information about Diaspora, check out in February 2010 after a talk by Professor Eben www.joindiaspora.com
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HEAR WHAT YOU’VE BEEN MISSING
written by Ray Balberman // edited by Andie Wright illustration by Matthew Winquist // photograph by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC FIDELITY IN THE AGE OF THE EARBUD?
Most people wouldn’t walk into an art gallery, snap a picture of a masterpiece painting with their digital camera, and then view that photo off the screen of their iPod or iPhone. That would be like giving a big five-fingered slap to the face of the artist. Ironically, listening to MP3s is the equivalent of viewing a painting on a three-inch screen. When a studio recording is transferred to a CD, it is compressed to a tenth of its original size. When you rip that CD to your iTunes, the file is compressed again by a factor of ten. So, the average MP3 actually represents one-one hundredth of the musical data a recording engineer actually hears when mixing the song. With a tiny digital image of a painting, you would lose the depth and detail of the work, the colours would be slightly different, and the overall aura of experiencing the painting would be destroyed. The same thing happens when listening to an MP3. Subtle details such as the squeak of a finger on a guitar string or the reverberation of the room the song was recorded in will probably be lost. This is okay if you are listening to Biebz’ “Baby” or the ever-popular, bar-star favourite “Shots” by LMFAO. However, for other more subtle types of music like classical—okay let’s be serious— folk rock, R+B, jazz, or rap, you’re not going to get an as immersive experience as you would listening to the raw, uncompressed audio. If you describe the music you listen to as “pumpin’,” chances are you will be okay with MP3s. Most Top-40 music has all the subtlety of a bunch of rowdy Sophs banging pots and pans at 8 a.m. during O-Week, so losing the nuances of the music isn’t really a problem. In all seriousness, MP3s are inherently biased against music with a lot of dynamic range, or music that tries to set up a sonic atmosphere. As if the compression already applied to the song isn’t bad enough, a lot of people choose to compound the problem by listening to music through cheap iPod earbuds. Thank you very much Coldplay, for spending months in the studio recording Viva La Vida and hiring one of the world’s best producers to work on your album with you. It really sounds great on these Chinese-made earbuds! Thankfully, there currently seems to be a move away from the culture of the earbud by young adults. Two of the hottest selling commodities on the market right now are Dr. Dre’s “Beats” headphones and turntables. So it seems that some people care about the quality of the music they listen to. The stoner kids revel in the novelty of listening to that vinyl copy of “Dark Side of the Moon” they so “luckily” managed to find, and the hardcore hip-hop fans pump their “Beats,” to see if their headphones can rival the absurd amount of bass that twin subwoofers put out in their car. Okay, now that I have managed to alienate anyone who might still be reading this, and have made myself out to sound like an elitist audiophile snob, I’ll be a good little MIT student and talk about the cultural implications of MP3 listening. Oh, and I’ll let some other people talk. By the way, I think “Beats” headphones sound great, with an extremely full—almost too full—bass response that most headphones don’t offer. I also own a turntable.
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André Doucette, producer and engineer at London’s own Charterhouse Recording Studios, believes that MP3s have changed the culture of listening to music. “In the past kids would gather around a turntable and listen to an album from beginning to end. That doesn’t happen much anymore. The music industry has shifted towards promoting single songs.” Musician, audio engineer, and UWO popular music professor Dr. Jay Hodgson agrees. “Our parents [the baby boomers] valued popular music. It was the chosen expression of their culture. Not movies, not books, music. People would sit around a good stereo
theatre? Granted, movie soundtracks are mixed in 5.1 surround sound, but in terms of audio fidelity, movie scores are the pinnacle of any commercial product. Isn’t it rather ironic that an industry based on moving pictures has better sound quality than the music industry itself?
won’t be cheap. People would most likely need to buy a new hardware device to play the new file type—the average internet connection isn’t fast enough to transfer uncompressed audio yet—and people would need to feel the desire to greatly improve their speaker system or headphones.
system listen to a record.”
If listening to music isn’t at the centre of youth culture anymore, what is? The answer is visual stimulation. Movies, television, and video games have stepped into the void that music left and have become the chosen expression of young peoples’ identities. “We live in a visual culture. Most people can tell the difference between standard and high definition televisions. But most people can’t tell the difference between MP3 files and CD quality audio,” Doucette notes. “People will buy an expensive high definition television and cheap out on the surround sound system.” The truth is most people can’t really hear the reduced fidelity of MP3s when they listen to their iPod. But consider this: when was the last time your iPod gave you an auditory experience as captivating and immersive as going to a movie
“Discussions of fidelity are simply not in the everyday If I were an executive in the music industry I would consumer’s vocabulary,” says Dr. Hodgson. want to make this transition now. The baby boomers are almost past their prime consuming age. And we In my opinion, the best thing the average music all know how the baby boomers love to tell us how listener can do is go to a movie theatre and watch their music from the 60s and 70s is “way better than a film with a great score and consider how much today’s garbage.” It’s time to sell them re-masters more powerful the experience is, how much depth of their favourite Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton can be created and how clear the sound is across records on a new medium, and get them buying all frequencies. new speaker systems. Alternatively, find someone with a Blu-Ray player “The desire to amass 3000 MP3s has surpassed and a good 5.1 surround system. Just as there is the desire to own eight great albums,” says Dr. high definition video, there is high definition Hodgson. audio too. Blu-Rays are the only commercial medium in existence which play music In my opinion, the reason most people download back in an uncompressed format. music so freely is that they have lost any sort of reverence or respect for an archaic product that the Not many people even know industry is selling us. It’s time for the music industry that such a thing as HD audio to try a new medium for storing digital audio data. even exists. It does, and it is of Financially, they can’t really do any worse than they exponentially higher quality than already are doing. a CD. I truly believe the medium of the CD is obsolete. All music “We [audio engineers] are just sort of waiting for the studios today are capable of day when MP3s finally go away,” laughs Doucette. recording at a quality that far André, I couldn’t agree with you more. surpasses the capabilities of a CD. Even the home recordings I make on my laptop are of higher quality than CDs can support. 1. Know why mp3s are bad. In general, they: are mid-range biased, distort in the upper Right now, the music industry frequencies (making pops, clicks, buzzing or isn’t making any money. We’ve hissing), lose the nuances of the recording, all heard the industry rhetoric and sound “thin” (not thick and spatial). which condemns anyone who illegally 2. Consumer beware: before you run out and downloads music. I’m going to avoid that buy a super-expensive set of headphones, take argument right now, but on that note, here is a closer look at the files you are playing. Daniel some simple logic for the music industry executives: Gauthier, a third-year popular music student if something isn’t working, try another approach. laments, “when I bought my new headphones I would love to see a new medium for music [Beats by Dr. Dre] I loved how they sounded, developed. No industry in the world waits as long but I began to notice how crappy my MP3s all to release new product innovations as the music sounded. Now I have to go back and re-rip all industry does. In fact, ever since the late 1950s, of my CDs at a higher quality.” when stereo sound was introduced on LP records, 3. Know how to make your digital audio files the product that is “the album” has hardly changed. sound good. Rip your CDs at raw quality .wav The average LP contains somewhere between 30 or .aiff, and if you’re moderately concerned and 60 minutes of music, album artwork, and some about hard drive space, encode your CDs and liner notes. The CD is essentially the same product, download your music at 256kbps or 320kbps. just on a different medium, with only a marginal Use an AAC encoder and enable variable improvement in sound quality from vinyl (some fans bit rate encoding (VBR). Don’t use 128 kbps of vinyl would debate this last point). MP3s. There is no other way to say it—they sound terrible. Ford didn’t stop with the Model T. We don’t carry Hard drive space gets cheaper every day. A 1 around cell phones as big as bricks anymore. So Terrabyte hard drive now runs around $100, how can the music industry hope to continue to exist tax included. That’s 100,000 good quality without being innovative and creating something AAC files at 10 megabytes each, or 25,000 that we can call a new product? uncompressed .wav files. If Blu-Ray discs can surpass DVDs, than a new medium for audio can surpass CDs. It certainly [mitZine v10.i2] 9
THE GREAT AMERICAN SOAP OPERA
THE GENRE THAT REFUSES TO DIE
A historic moment in the history of media occurred between 2:00 and 3:00 pm on September 17, 2010—if you don’t know what happened, ask your grandmother. written by Jennifer Spence // Illustrated by Olivia Griggs // edited by Vincy Kwong Phillips’ first big hit was Guiding Light in 1937, whose instant popularity had advertisers falling over themselves to sponsor the show. Phillips believed that a radio serial’s main purpose was to be a “utility to its sponsors.” She made a habit of introducing major story events, such as weddings, that could easily lend themselves to tie-in products and endorsements. In fact, the term ‘soap opera’ comes from the fact that the earliest advertised products were—you guessed it—soap.
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On that Friday, America’s second longest-running daytime soap opera, As The World Turns, aired its final episode. By 3:01 pm, more than fifty years of heartache, heartbreak, and breakups in the small town of Oakdale, Illinois, had reached their end, and not a dry eye could be found in nursing homes and retirement communities across the nation. When television came of age in the early 1950s, CBS Radio was keen for GL to transfer over to the Yet therein lies the problem. Citing falling ratings and visual medium. Before Phillips went on to create aging viewers, TV networks are cancelling daytime ATWT and Days Of Our Lives, she was initially serials left and right, replacing them with cheaper skeptical of this new technology. For the first four crowd-pleasing fare; ATWT is just the latest victim years, she had the show produce two different in a long line of casualties. Only a handful of soaps versions—one for radio and one for TV—in case remain on air under constant threat of replacement the whole ‘television thing’ didn’t work out. by reruns of The Price Is Right. Television daytime soap operas continued to thrive. How did this happen? How did television’s most The format’s emphasis on dialogue over action bankable genre go so wrong? scenes meant that housewives could go about their Historians have credited the birth of the soap opera daily tasks while listening to the TV from another genre to Irna Phillips, an American radio writer in room. The segmented story lines and repetitive the 1930s. Phillips knew that if she targeted shows explanations of past events made it easy for (even to housewives, she could attract a previously the most casual) viewers to keep up with the exploits overlooked demographic that held considerable of their favourite fictional characters. purchasing power. Let’s flash forward to 2010, where soap opera ratings
are at an all-time low. In this post-network era, television episodes can be streamed, ad-free, with the click of a button, and no one has five hours a week to dedicate to a single show. Even worse, the most desirable demographic—the Internet generation—have no interest in their grandparents’ outdated entertainment. As a sign of the times, the industry’s oldest and largest sponsor, Procter & Gamble, bailed out of the soap sponsorship business just last year, while other companies are set to follow. Not everyone in the soap industry, however, is ready to give up on this legendary genre just yet. Many influential cast and crewmembers are pulling together to give the traditional American soap opera a not so traditional home on the Internet. In the past several years, the Internet-only soap opera has gained considerable momentum. The most popular online shows have attracted some of the biggest names in the industry: the star-studded “Gotham” reads as a who’s-who of soap actors; “Imaginary Bitches” was recently nominated for an Emmy; and the actors and storylines on “Venice” (unofficially) picked up from where Guiding Light left off. The financial backgrounds to these shows are just as untraditional as their distribution method: the leading shows are financed through private donations, fan fundraising, and subscriptiononly access. Interestingly enough, the traditional daytime soap opera—a genre known for its characters’ revolving door romances and a never ending supply of evil twins—is under constant pressure to remain as un-controversial as possible. If a soap is too adventurous, like introducing same-sex relationships into the traditionally heterosexual landscape, the show’s advertisers get nervous and demand changes. As a result: Phillip from The Young & The Restless was written out shortly after he came out; GL’s Olivia and Natalia were never allowed to kiss; and ATWT ended with its three gay characters either dead, heartbroken, or alone. Online soaps, nevertheless, are not limited by these outdated standards and practices. The logistics behind Internet distribution and private ownership allow creators unprecedented levels of creative freedom. For example, “Venice” was praised for its imaginative continuation of the Olivia and Natalia relationship (and yes, they finally got to kiss). Over seven decades, soap operas have gone from humble radio serials, to successful television dramas, and become pioneers in the world of online entertainment. It seems that, much like Days’ infamous villain Stefano DiMera, the American daytime soap opera genre can never truly die.
FIMS’ SEARCH ENGINE
THE RESEARCH HELP DESK
written by Lauren Nisbet, MITSC VP Academic illustrated by Mary Wong // edited by Meg French It’s that time of year again. September has come and gone, leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and school bags are heavy. Brace yourselves, it’s midterm season. Whether you’re hunkered down all day at Weldon or typing frantically at NCB between classes, we are all facing the same onslaught of essays, exams, and assignments that won’t stop coming until the end of the semester. Here’s a thought to keep your spirits up: you are not alone. Not only are your peers stressing right along with you, but Western offers tons of resources to help you out during this busy time, so take advantage! Fran Gray, subject librarian for Information and Media Studies, is part of the knowledgeable and experienced staff at Weldon Library who are always happy to help with anything you may need. The Research Help Desk—located on the main floor—provides assistance for any essay or assignment research that could be making you frantic. When approaching a research project it’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially when you don’t know where to begin. “Refine your research question and understand the background of your topic,” are the first pieces of advice Fran gives for any struggling researcher. Having a more specific focus allows you to be more efficient with your time, not having to spend hours searching through books and web pages. She emphasizes that “some preliminary reading can often save time in the long run.” It’s this efficiency of research that Fran and the rest of the Research Help Desk team are experts in. “If you can’t find what you are looking for in five minutes, ask,” encourages Fran. If you discover you have more questions as you proceed, she always encourages you to come back for more help. Fran Gray specializes in resources for MIT and can be contacted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (519-661-2111 extension 84823). BREAKDOWN OF RESOURCES Libraries: the Shared Library Catalogue (http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca) helps you to search for books at any library on campus, but most of the books relevant to media studies can be found at Weldon. There is also a page specific to MIT on the Western Libraries website (http://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/ mediainformationandtechnoculture), which provides links to media-related databases such as Communication and Mass Media Complete and Google Scholar. The page also links to News Source databases which provide full text newspaper articles. Online Tutorials: provide Citing and Writing guides to help students prepare proper citations for references (http://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/journalism/styleguides.html) There is also a News Research guide for students looking to use information directly from news stories (http://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/journalism/newsnewspapersresearchguide.html)—especially helpful for MIT students! Wireless Internet Access, Printing, Photocopying, and Study Space are also services available at Western Libraries
THE BLINDSIDE OF SEX
written by Colleen Watson // illustrated by Meg Hackney // edited by Taylor Pearce Throughout the 1940’s, Alfred Kinsey worked diligently to prove that humans are naturally sexual. After The Kinsey Reports were completed in 1953, his statistics showed that individual sexual experiences ranged from self-fulfillment, premarital sex, and homosexual relationships. Just the same as any animal on the planet, we are inherently sexual, and his statistics shed light on many misconceptions of sexuality. So why does mainstream media still convey sexuality in such a narrow view nearly sixty years after the Kinsey Reports? Sexuality is everywhere in our society, whether it’s the Buffalo ad at London bus stops, music artists like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, or Hollywood starlets such as Scarlett Johansson and Megan Fox. The media focuses on highly sexualized women. History has shown us that sexuality is based on culture, and our culture is capitalism. Our media creates sexual ideals for viewers’ to strive towards, so companies may profit from sex. “I think all women in Hollywood are known as sex symbols,” Megan Fox said to Entertainment Weekly in 2009. “…You’re merchandised. You’re a product. You’re sold and it is based on sex.”1 However, these images limit viewers’ perceptions of what it means to be sexual. If viewers see sexuality as natural, people will not invest. Everybody knows that sex sells, but society also imposes gender roles when it comes to sexuality. “People limit themselves when they succumb to feminine and masculine binary roles,” says Jillian Clair, a third year MIT student. “Men and women behave in what they think is sexual rather than what they feel is sexual. They miss out on exploring themselves as sexual people.” Most people are in the dark on sexual behavior, simply because society paints a negative image. Mainstream media primarily conveys heterosexual couples and frequently depicts women as vulnerable characters who are subverting to their male partners. Whether it’s Jersey Shore’s Ronnie and Sammi, or Glee’s Quinn and Puck, sex in media insinuates that male characters have an obligation to prove their masculinity through sexually active lifestyles, while women characters are left to gratify the men. The problem is that media does not broaden this perspective. “Sexuality is not a static thing,” continues Clair. “It is constantly being challenged and contradicted.” This becomes apparent when media figures challenge sexual norms. Adam Lambert’s videos feature strictly heterosexual couples, even though he has been overtly homosexual since his debut on American Idol in 2009. Last November, Adam kissed his heterosexual keyboardist at the American Music Awards. The following day, he was pulled from Good Morning America and received criticism across America, but Adam Lambert refused to apologize for the incident. “There is nothing wrong with what I did...It was just a kiss!” he exasperated on BBC One. “People kept saying, ‘Oh, but our children!’ I’m a singer, not a babysitter. It was eleven o’clock at night!”2 Parents had similar concerns for their children when Katy Perry appeared on Sesame Street, singing a parody with Elmo of her single, “Hot and Cold”. Parents expressed that Katy Perry’s outfit was “too sexual for pre-schoolers”.3 However, in our society, it is nearly impossible to censor sexuality since mainstream media uses sex appeal for blatant advertising. “The problem with media is how much it lies,” says Josi Knelsen, a second year English student from Kings. “Young girls and boys are going to get the wrong idea unless someone educates them about sex. If they are not informed, they are more likely to make poor decisions for themselves.” However, since sexuality has negative implications, parents often avoid addressing the subject altogether with their children. So, perhaps it is time for our society to reconstruct its notions on sexuality. In the 21st century, it is apparent that we are overpopulated, so sexuality needs to be understood outside of sexual intercourse itself. Maybe we should take some of Kinsey’s advice, and realize that sexuality is a natural thing. Everyone has different pleasures, fantasies, and fetishes. Some prefer men more, and others prefer women more. By making sexuality comfortable and removing negative connotations, individuals can experience fluidity in their sexual experiences, whether it is an individual or shared. This allows people to see beyond media’s narrow view of what it means to “be sexual”, which may lead to healthier relationships and sexual lifestyles. It’s time society regards sexuality as empowering rather than degrading. 1 http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20284375,00.html 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7sL1bbdAEo 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zyDp3XhQXE
THE TRUTH ABOUT MUSIC SALES
written by Emily Stewart // illustrated by Gillian Cummings // edited by Katie Hetherman Websites such as Napster and Limewire are often looked down upon because they allow people to download digital recordings for free. It is considered illegal since there is no price on the music provided. It is labeled as unfair to the musicians since they supposedly make no money from the free downloads. Surprisingly, however, it is not the singers and bands we love who benefit from record sales. In fact, musicians earn just 13% of the profits from record sales. The record label, on the other hand, amasses the largest slice of the pie, collecting 63% of the profits from the CDs. The other 24% goes to the distributors of the record. It is suggested that for every $1000 sold in CDs, the musician only makes about $23.40.1 This disconcerting fact can leave many thinking: “How is that even possible?” A few years ago, Courtney Love made a breakdown of the economics of the recording industry. The controversial singer states that although the band is given $1 million to begin with, half of that money is spent on the recording process of an album. Also, the manager gets 20% commission, in addition to $25 000 given to both the lawyer and the business manager. Therefore, the band has to live on $45 000 until the record is released. Once the album is released, the band typically releases two singles and two videos to go along with the song releases. Half of the money spent on the production of the music video comes right out of the band’s royalties. Support for the tour costs $200 000 and is 100% recoupable. Then, the record company spends $300 000 on radio promotion, which is charged straight to the band. The band then earns $2 million dollars from all of the record sales— that is, if none of the CDs were sold at a discounted price. How much does the record company earn? About $11 million, spending $750 000 in publishing and $2.2 million in marketing, leaving their profit at $6.6 million. The musicians themselves earn about a third of what they could be receiving working at a gas station.2 The next time you hear your favourite band say they never made a dime in album sales, keep this in mind. Love explains that although, “ hearing yourself on the radio, selling records, getting new fans and being on TV is great [...] the band doesn’t have any money[...] and nobody has credit”.3 The media portrays the celebrity life as glamourous, complete with loads of cash, but the truth is, they make very little money. Love also states that the relationship between a musician and their fans is a special one that a record company doesn’t understand, as they “put records on the radio and hope for the best”.3 However, it seems that more musicians are using digital technology to promote themselves. Love believes that this is beneficial because it, “gives everyone world wide, instant access to music” and it creates “new ways to distribute and market music”.3 Digital music can really help those who are trying to get into the industry. If you go on Youtube, there are thousands of musicians who are trying to promote themselves. There are also many fan pages on Facebook and MySpace for the bands to gain fans. Digital music is also easier to access than store-bought music. Unfortunately, the quality of the digital music format is terrible, but Love feels that no one really cares anymore: “No one prefers a cruddy sounding mp3 over the real thing. But it’s easier to get an mp3 file”.3 Despite the awful sound quality and copyright concerns that come with free digital music, Love feels fine with her fans accessing her music that way: “I’m not afraid of wireless, mp3 files or any other threat to my copyrights. Anything that makes my music more available to more people is great”.3 She has touched a nerve on the current state of the music industry, even if the record labels don’t love to hear it. 1 http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100712/23482610186.shtml 2 http://www.negativland.com/albini.html 3 http://www.salon.com/technology/feature/2000/06/14/love/print.html
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BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE CAN’T HAVE A BLOG, RIGHT?
Jonathan Forani, mitZine Advertising & Web Editor The mitZine is ready to launch a new wave of online We all love being in MIT at Western, but every once content. What can you expect? in a while there’s something about the program or the school that pushes your buttons (I have to take No, not a duplication of what’s in your hands right a science credit? WTF). Let the mitZine Online be now (if you want this online, check out scribd.com/ your place to vent about the powers that be in MIT. mitzine). This isn’t Stalinist Russia. You can do that here.
PRINT IS NOT DEAD
the mitZine Online
Like the perfect public sphere it is, you’ll be able to discuss and comment on all of this without fearing will feature the kinds of content we just can’t fit into censorship. the print Zine: This isn’t your mother’s web log. This is your • Reviews of Movies, TV, Music and more faculty’s playground. Interested in joining the Zine as we enter the global blogosphere? • Video and Photography Are you a Photoshop wizkid looking for online As interested as everyone probably is about your design opportunities? day-to-day life, the mitZine Online is not the place to Did you regret not getting involved last year? And blog about your morning strolls along the Thames. every other year? Save it for Twitter. Instead, we ask: Is the online world a place where your creativity thrives? Did JWoww really move you last night? Want to try your hand at shorter content before you Is Don Draper’s whoring around ticking you off? write for the print Zine? Has FOX News done something again? Looking to expand your writing/photography/ Did you feel it for Mark Zuckerberg after watching videography portfolio? The Social Network? Just wanna blog? Is Sufjan’s auto-tuning making you twitch? Come blog about it. Get in touch with us: email@example.com Let the mitZine Online be your outlet. Be a part of the mitZine digital renaissance. Pop Culture Fixes and Social Commentary
THE MITZINE ONLINE NEEDS A HEADER... DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO CREATE IT?
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illustration and layout by Mary Wong
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was supposed to run in the Frosh Issue but was pulled because the Orientation Programming Committee determined that items 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, and 20 were inappropriate for frosh.
THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GRADUATE
Four years may seem like a long time right now, but if you’re not careful it’ll all be over before you can say “Marx’s Manifesto Makes Modern Materialists Mistrust Money” five times fast. Make the most of your time at Western and in FIMS with these helpful suggestions from the MIT SOPH TEAM.
Take your parents out to Ceeps on a Saturday Night
c h a t ro u l e t t e
ON A FRIDAY NIGHT
BUY SOMETHING FROM THE MIT CLOTHING SALE
15 FLOOR HOP IN SAUGEEN
Do something STUPID for charity
Complete the “World Tour of Beer” at the Spoke
BONUS: DO IT IN ONE DAY
See a guest speaker (E.g.s. from the past two years alone include David Suzuki, Paul Martin, Stephen Lewis and Robert Kennedy Jr.).
13 4 JAM CULTURE
put on the with your campus meal plan
BONUS: LOSE YOUR FRESHMAN FIFTEEN AT THE CAMPUS REC CENTRE
GET WIDLY INAPPROPRIATE AT EVERY MIT EVENT
GET “ESCORTED” OUT OF A BAR for being too much of a good time
10. DANCE ON A STAGE BONUS: DANCE ON A TABLE. 11. JOHN REED
BONUS: MAKE SOMETHING FOR THE MIT CLOTHING SALE
sport a moustache, GIRLS INCLUDED
1 8 19 61 4 FSU
become friends with a
WITH THEM AT THE GRAD CLUB
Sing along with Rick McGhie
get your name in the Gazette
PROFESSOR BONUS: SHARE A PITCHER
CONTRIBUTE TO THE MITZINE
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First sentences to an article, story, or poem will randomly pop up in your head at any moment, making pens/keypads a necessity.
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You’re more than a spell checker; you can help parse others’ ideas so the reader can understand and engage.
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You’re critical. We like that. With the Zine you’ll have the chance to express your ideas in a published forum other than Facebook, and you’ll have something to put up on your fridge old school style.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you’d like to get involved. No experience necessary.
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