Category Archives: Media

Is the Internet facilitating inequality?

 JAN 28 2014, 4:34 PM ET
Reuters

In the 1990s, the venture capitalist John Doerr famously predicted that the Internet would lead to the “the largest legal creation of wealth in the history of the planet.” Indeed, the Internet has created a tremendous amount of personal wealth. Just look at the rash of Internet billionaires and millionaires, the investors both small and large that have made fortunes investing in Internet stocks, and the list of multibillion-dollar Internet companies—Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon. Add to the list the recent Twitter stock offering, which created a reported 1,600 millionaires.

Then there’s the superstar effect. The Internet multiplies the earning power of the very best high-frequency traders, currency speculators, and entertainers, who reap billions while the merely good are left to slog it out.

But will the Internet also create the greatest economic inequality the global economy has ever known? And will poorly designed government policies aimed at ameliorating the problem of inequality end up empowering the Internet-driven redistribution process?

As the Internet goes about its work making the economy more efficient, it is reducing the need for travel agents, post office employees, and dozens of other jobs in corporate America. The increased interconnectivity created by the Internet forces many middle and lower class workers to compete for jobs with low-paid workers in developing countries. Even skilled technical workers are finding that their jobs can be outsourced to trained engineers and technicians in India and Eastern Europe.

That’s the old news. Continue reading

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20 Talks that could ‘change your life;

An oldie but a goodie from the Guardian here – talks/webinars and videos are a great way to listen to insight. Education by provocation is in its truest sense, the internal squirm that forces us to reckon with what we already know, what we choose to fade into the background and sometimes, what is blindingly obvious, if not important. The Guardian provides a roundup of some talks from Amanda Palmer on the music industry to Bertrand Russell on Christianity and Terry Pratchett on coming to terms with death. I also like the TED talks on Global Issues and the drop down bar when you can click Most Viewed/Informative/Inspiring etc. 

Knock yourselves out. 

http://new.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education

Hollywood Linguistics – the art of inventing languages

Khal Drogo Khaleesi Daenerys
Dothraki King Drogo & Queen Daenerys © HBO

Nautilus | Jennifer Ouelette

Seven hundred people gathered at the University of California, San Diego, one day this spring to hear the creators of three fictional languages talk about how linguistics has infiltrated Hollywood, particularly when it comes to building believable make-believe worlds. When it comes to building make-believe worlds, inventing a language makes it seem that much more real to the audience, fueling the willing suspension of disbelief that lies at the heart of entertainment.

“The days of aliens spouting gibberish with no grammatical structure are over,” University of Southern California linguistics professor Paul Frommer told the New York Times in 2011. Frommer invented the Na’Vi language spoken by the tall blue native inhabitants of Pandora in Avatar, and was on the San Diego panel, along with David J. Peterson, who invented the Dothraki language for HBO’s smash hit series, Game of Thrones, and Mark Okrand, who created the Klingon language forStar Trek III: The Search for Spock.

People who create new languages as a hobby—a very serious hobby—are called “conlangers.” The oldest and most successful invented language is Esperanto, dating back to 1887. It hasn’t yet ushered in world peace, as it was intended, but between 10,000 and two million people speak Esperanto today, mostly concentrated in Europe, East Asia, and South America, with as many as 1,000 native speakers who learned it from birth. There is also a tradition of inventing languages in the science fiction and fantasy realm. J.R.R. Tolkien invented an Elvish language while writing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Disney’s John Carter featured an invented Martian language called Barsoomian. Continue reading

Why we like watching rich people

INTRODUCTION

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”Mary Cybulski/Paramount Pictures, via Associated Press

Several Academy Award contenders like “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle” glorify white-collar criminals and scammers, and many reality TV shows embrace the wealthy, too. A new series, “#RichKids of Beverly Hills,” is the latest example of our enthusiasm for “ogling the filthy rich.”

Why are we so obsessed with watching the antics of the 1 percent?

NY Times, Feb 2014 | Alyssa Roseberg | Read more here 

America’s fascination with the ill-behaved rich, expressed in both reality television and this year in many movies that are contending for major awards, isn’t limited to the current recession. But the particular incarnation of our fascination seems intended to do something very specific: help us manage our covetousness, at a time when even basic financial security feels out of reach for many people.

It’s been fascinating to watch Bravo, which more than any other network drove the idea that programming should be “aspirational,” shift its brand from shows like “Project Runway” and “Top Chef,” which taught viewers about fashion and food, toward reality programming about the rich.

In “Blue Jasmine,” Cate Blanchett plays a wealthy socialite who falls on hard times.Jessica Miglio/Sony Pictures Classics

The purchasing power of the people who appear on the “Real Housewives” franchise may be enviable. But part of the appeal of those shows is the opportunity to judge their casts’ consumption choices and their conduct. If we had their money, we think, we wouldn’t spend it on hideous hotel suites and closets full of wigs. And when it turns out that Teresa Giudice, a star on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” is financing her lifestyle on debt and fraud, we can congratulate ourselves for not sharing her desperation to appear wealthy.

When rich people we actually envy turn out to be criminals, the idea that wealth is inherently corrupting helps take the sting out of our envy. Gordon Gekko may have declared that “greed is good” in the movie “Wall Street,” but by chasing his example, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen’s character in the film) contributes to his father’s heart attack and earns himself a prison sentence, examples that help us map the limits of what we’d do for more money. We tell ourselves that we’d never be as pathetic or myopic as the heroine of “Blue Jasmine,” who ruins her own life by marrying a scammer. And we’d never be so foolish, as the titular hero of “The Great Gatsby,” remade again this summer by Baz Luhrmann, to think that wealth, no matter how it’s acquired, can purchase class, or ease, or revise personal history.

We may never stop wanting money, the worries it eliminates and the ease it can bring. But pop culture can issue very effective reminders that we value things like our freedom and our self-respect just as much.

Writers, technology and the future

Writers, Technology, and the Future

These are hard times for those who live by the pen. But technology will not decide their fate. The future of writers—and the articles, novels, and nonfiction books they create—ultimately rests with those who read them.

Writing for a living is a unique profession. It’s also a relatively young one, dating essentially from the 18th century; the literary historian Alvin Kernan has called Samuel Johnson’s 1755 letter to Lord Chesterfield, in which Johnson proudly declared his independence of aristocratic patronage, “the Magna Carta of the modern author.” There’s a kaleidoscope of genres and a scale of incomes from effectively subminimum wages to seven figures. Most of all, writing is a profession that millions of people would like to join, at least part-time. To the alarm of critics such as the essayist Joseph Epstein, one survey revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans believe they have a book in them.

Today, many worry that technology, an ally of authorship since 19th-century innovations slashed the cost of printing, may no longer be so healthy for Samuel Johnson’s ideal of writing supported by the purchases of a growing literate public. Fifty years ago, almost a generation before the introduction of personal computing, the prospects for authorship looked bright. The New York Times reported in 1966 that publishing executives were concerned that their industry’s profitability might make them the target of hostile corporate takeovers. The next year, CBS paid a premium price of $280 million in a friendly acquisition of the venerable imprint Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. IBM and RCA had already bought into the burgeoning publishing industry, believing that the growth of college enrollments promised an expansion of the book market.

The Great Society era seemed a bonanza for publishers and authors, the vanguard of the new “knowledge workers” celebrated by the popular management guru Peter Drucker. Trade book publishers saw revenues grow 10 to 12 percent annually in those golden years, including an 18 percent jump in 1966 alone. Textbook publishers did even better. Books of all kinds were in high demand.

Sadly, the idyll was short lived. In 1969, when President Richard Nixon called for a large increase in federal support for the arts and humanities, he noted that many cultural institutions found themselves in “acute financial crisis.” By 1971, publishers were struggling with inflation and stagnant markets. Not only was the Great Society’s plan for leveling upward in trouble; the New Frontier’s notion of diffusing high culture downward to the masses was also losing ground. Campus protests and countercultural lifestyles had alienated many in the middle class from the universities and what they represented. It did not help that the style of youthful rebellion had changed, with early activists such as Mario Savio, leader of the mid-1960s Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, and a serious graduate student who went on to a physics scholarship at Oxford University, giving way to the likes of the Yippie pranksters Abbie Hoffman (author of Steal This Book) and Jerry Rubin.

Today, publishing is the weakest link in the old media-entertainment-education nexus. Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corporation is spinning off its lagging newspaper and book publishing operations from its Fox entertainment business. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a venerable book publisher, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, laden with $3 billion in debts.

There are many other gloomy signs for the future of reading and writing. The plight of newspapers is well known, summed up in the Pew Research Center’s report State of the News Media 2012: The papers’ print advertising revenues dropped by $2.1 billion in 2011, while online revenues increased by only $207 million—a 10:1 differential, even larger than in the previous year. Magazines have also been losing circulation and advertising, reaching what New York Times media correspondent David Carr has called, with some exaggeration, “the edge of the cliff.”

Most authors consider retail bookstores a cornerstone of their effort to build an audience for their books—places where the personal recommendations of staff members and readers’ accidental discoveries can work wonders. (John Kennedy Jr., who once startled me with a telephone call inviting me to write for his magazineGeorge, explained that he had come across my book while looking for another in a store.) But bricks-and-mortar booksellers are reeling. The bankruptcy of the Borders chain last year shuttered almost 400 stores. The other major chain, Barnes & Noble, is struggling. The news is worse among independently owned bookstores. Their leading trade group lost more than half its membership between 1993 and 2008.

No wonder even some of the most commercially successful authors see the heavens darkening. In February, the popular novelist Jodi Picoult (50 million copies in print) told a reporter from The Times of London that the trend toward electronic publishing, with its lower royalties, has been reducing her income. “If you sell the same number of books now as you did a year ago you will make a third less money,” she said. “In America my sales are now just shy of 50-50 print to e-books this year.”

Some detractors of the publishing industry, such as the author and marketing specialist Seth Godin, foresee a totally new world: “Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? . . . .  The future is going to be filled with amateurs, and the truly talented and persistent will make a great living. But the days of journeyman writers who make a good living by the word [is] over.”

Such dire predictions are hypnotic. Cultural pessimism was a growth industry even in what we think of as print’s golden age a century and more ago, when a burgeoning literate public was not distracted by radio or Hollywood, let alone television. The taste for gloom is so strong that it even brings old books back to life. The philosopher Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind (1987) became a surprise million-copy popular hit and was recently reissued in a 25th-anniversary edition. The critic Sven Birkerts’s Gutenberg Elegies (1995) has likewise been reissued. These and other gloomy tomes have recently been one-upped (one-downed?) in curmudgeonly provocation by the science writer and cultural critic Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows and the English professor Mark Bauerlein’s Dumbest Generation. No wonder some psychological researchers believe that negativity bias is an innate feature of the human mind.

Yet despair is not universal. When I spoke with him by telephone, David Fenza, executive director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the largest academic organization in creative writing, argued that publishing is more vigorous, and more open to a diversity of voices, than ever. He rejected the idea that it’s harder for writers to succeed, observing that greater numbers of prose writers than ever before are able to sell 100,000 copies of a book, and greater numbers of poets to sell 10,000 copies. In many universities, the creative writing major has become an alternative to pursuit of the conventional English degree, attracting many students who love reading but not necessarily the latest hyper-specialized scholarly trends in the humanities.

That is only one reason to hope that a more vigorous and participatory culture is arising among at least some young people. The short story, which once flourished in popular magazines, has found a modest revival in One Story, a nonprofit print magazine that now has 15,000 subscribers and will soon be complemented by a new publication for teenagers. Book industry statistics also argue against cultural despair. American book publishers reported small but notable gains in the number of books sold (print and digital) and in net revenue during the difficult years from 2008 and 2010, according to The New York Times. (The numbers have since remained essentially flat.) Children’s books have been a particular bright spot, thanks partly to continuing enthusiasm for the Harry Potter stories. Of course, pinched revenues are disappointing, and newspaper and magazine closings hurt writers and readers. But is today’s hyperangst justified, especially at a time when many industries would be happy to be in steady state? After all, as the Atlantic blogger Derek Thompson points out, the revolution in digital music slashed recording industry revenues by 57 percent in just a 10-year stretch after 1999.

However, there are two sets of pressures that rightly concern authors: the squeeze and the crush. The squeeze is the result of technology’s dilution of attention time and spending power; the crush is the product of overreach by oligarchic intermediaries and insurgent information consumers.

The squeeze, a growing supply of words competing for limited amounts of reader time, is partly a reflection of the popularity of writing as a career. Technological change has lowered what economists call the “barriers to entry” in writing. This phenomenon helped push the number of books published in the United States from 240,000 in 2003 to more than 347,000 in 2011. Technology has also allowed the already prolific to become more so. The invention of the typewriter in the 1860s made editors’ lives easier, but hardly changed the pace of writing itself. (Think of the literary output of Dickens and Thackeray, or the nearly 20,000 letters Thomas Jefferson is known to have written.) Computers have been a different story, as the experience of the masterly British historian Roy Porter shows. “The steady stream of books,” the Guardian said in Porter’s 2002 obituary, “became an avalanche once he had mastered the computer.”

There is also more pressure on established writers and editors to generate content. Newspaper staff must now blog, tweet, and write Facebook posts in addition to doing their primary jobs, an existence Dean Starkman of The Columbia Journalism Review characterizes as a kind of journalistic hamster wheel. The quest for Web traffic, he argues, has been diverting precious resources from the core mission of journalism. In 2010, Demand Media, operating sites such as eHow.com and employing thousands of minimally paid freelancers, published 4,500 articles per day, mainly on practical topics from health and careers to home repair, and drew more Web traffic than The New York Times. The early assumption that high-quality professional writing would prevail on the Web has proved too optimistic.

If the squeeze is putting pressure on writers’ income, the crush is threatening it more radically. The crush is not the direct result of electronic publishing, which is not inherently good or bad for writing as a business. Indirectly, though, the electronic book brings with it two opposing but equally disturbing trends, monopoly and piracy.

Today, the challenge to writers is not so much oligopoly as the prospect of hegemony by a single company, Amazon. Until recently, authors could regard it as one of their best friends. It has let large and small publishers alike find readers, especially for backlist titles and other slow-selling books few retailers would stock. It has encouraged discussion of books among its customers, let authors set up personal pages on its site, and made it easier for customers to discover other books by favorite authors.

With the advent of Amazon’s aggressively promoted Kindle readers, the picture has darkened. The long-tailed, friendly underdog has been turning alpha Rottweiler. Unlike vendors of competing readers and tablets, including Apple and Barnes & Noble, Amazon wants to do more than sell platforms for reading the electronic content it sells. It appears to be promoting self-publication through its site as an alternative to—indeed, a replacement for—conventional publishing. (Seth Godin briefly worked with Amazon in one such effort to supplant traditional publishers.) In his annual letter to shareholders this year, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos argued that “even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation,” a jab at publishers. He was surely cheered when the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit charging Apple and five major publishers with colluding to keep the prices of e-books high and prevent price cutting competition between Amazon and its rivals. (Three of the publishers recently settled the claim.) Critics of Amazon argue that its ability to market bestsellers at a loss threatens publishers’ ability to promote new authors. They fear that the company will make nightmares of downward-spiraling compensation come true. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has criticized the Justice Department, arguing that “the suit could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it.”

The novelist Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, acknowledging that Amazon has been good for him personally and calling the Kindle “a great innovation,” has nonetheless warned, “It’s only rational to fear what they’re going to do with this accumulation of power.” Steve Wasserman, writing in The Nation, cites what Amazon has already done: When the 500-member Independent Publishers Group refused to accept its demand for deeper discounts on IPG members’ products, it deleted almost 5,000 of the publishers’ digital titles from its site. One independent publisher in Texas declared what many publishers and writers have come to believe: “Amazon seemingly wants to kill off the distributors, then kill off the independent publishers and bookstores, and become the only link between the reader and the author.” At that point, writers could be almost completely at its mercy.

Piracy is the inverse of monopoly. Though there is disagreement about its extent, illegal e-book sharing hasn’t reached the levels of theft that plague film studios and music labels. For some writers, the real threat is not piracy itself but pressure to reduce prices to discourage illegal copying. As the novelist Ewan Morrison has suggested, “In every digital industry the attempt to combat piracy has led to a massive reduction in cover price: the slippery slope towards free digital content.”

Frightening as they are, the squeeze and the crush do not portend an unavoidably dark future. Previous economic and technological crises have been crucibles of innovation, spurring the emergence of new genres and drawing in new writers. Edgar Allan Poe’s puzzle-based mystery stories such as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Gold-Bug” were a commercially minded response to the Panic of 1837, as the Poe scholar Terence Whalen has argued, that introduced the scientific detective to literature. The Panic of 1893 hurt traditional subscription-based magazines but gave rise to a new breed of inexpensive, mass-circulation counterparts that placed heavier reliance on advertisers for revenues. Some of the greatest writing successes of the 1930s were businessmen who had been bloodied by the Crash of 1929: Yip Harburg, who wrote the lyrics of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and the songs inThe Wizard of Oz, and Benjamin Graham, who distilled the hard financial lessons he had learned in Security Analysis, now considered a canonical work on “value” investing.

It’s no less true for being a cliché that problems are opportunities. The travails of newspapers are due in part to the public’s impatience with chronic formulaic similarity. As the historian and director of the Harvard University Library, Robert Darnton, a onetime police reporter, observed in a classic 1975 ethnographic study of journalists’ tribal ways, “Nothing could be less competitive than a group of reporters on the same story.” Technology has exposed mercilessly what critics and insiders have long acknowledged.

The structural problems of journalism leave room for innovation, as they did more than a century ago, when the 38-year-old Chattanooga newspaper publishing prodigyAdolph S. Ochs, nearly bankrupt after the Panic of 1893, somehow found backers for a takeover of the struggling New York Times, turning it into the first elite newspaper priced for the masses. Are there new Ochses in our midst? The greatest disciple of Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, has been acquiring newspapers even as Rupert Murdoch has been spinning them off.

Like newspapers, the print encyclopedia business had a chronic problem, in its case the impossibility of keeping many entries up to date. Yet the nemesis of commercial encyclopedias, Wikipedia, has its own structural limitations. Open editing may correct errors and pile up references and images, but it’s not suited to creating the kind of intellectual synthesis that the classic 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica achieved more than a century ago. Could a 21st-century counterpart of that landmark work be the future of the encyclopedia?

What of the average writer? Nobody ever aspired to be an average writer. Apart from technical and contract writing, the profession has always been what economists call a tournament, a competitive environment with only a few big winners, whose successes motivate the rest. It’s very possible that the solid middle of the profession will erode further, and a few favored authors will pull farther ahead. The median may decline, but the glittering prizes will remain.

The future depends more on writers themselves than on technology. If they accept the proletarianization thesis, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they can show how copyright and good compensation are in the long-term interest of the reading public, if they can mobilize readers to help defeat would-be monopolists of various kinds, if they can use social media to enhance relations with readers, there will still be many disappointed writers, but there will also be new kinds of opportunity. Optimism may fail; pessimism can’t succeed. As the sociologist Erving Goffman, whose first book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), has sold 500,000 copies, put it when his Marxist colleague Alvin Gouldner complained of being treated like a commodity by the publisher they shared: There’s nothing wrong with being treated like a commodity as long as you’re an expensive commodity.

About the Author

Edward Tenner, author of Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity(2003) and Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences (1996), is a research affiliate of the Princeton Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies and a WQ

Are we really connected in a Connected Age?

Zuckerman1.jpg
Ethan Zuckerman

The Internet has changed many things, but not the insular habits of mind that keep the world from becoming truly connected.

When the Cold War ended, the work of America’s intelligence analysts suddenly became vastly more difficult. In the past, they had known who the nation’s main adversaries were and what bits of information they needed to acquire about them: the number of SS-9 missiles Moscow could deploy, for example, or the number of warheads each missile could carry. The U.S. intelligence community had been in search of secrets—facts that exist but are hidden by one government from another. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, as Bruce Berkowitz and Allan Goodman observe in Best Truth: Intelligence in the Information Age (2002), it found a new role thrust upon it: the untangling of mysteries.

Computer security expert Susan Landau identifies the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran as one of the first indicators that the intelligence community needed to shift its focus from secrets to mysteries. On its surface, Iran was a strong, stable ally of the United States, an “island of stability” in the region, according to President Jimmy Carter. The rapid ouster of the shah and a referendum that turned a monarchy into a theocracy led by a formerly exiled religious scholar left governments around the world shocked and baffled.
The Islamic Revolution was a surprise because it had taken root in mosques and homes, not palaces or barracks. The calls to resist the shah weren’t broadcast on state media but transmitted via handmade leaflets and audiocassettes of speeches by Ayatollah Khomeini. In their book analyzing the events of 1979, Small Media, Big Revolution (1994), Annabelle Sreberny and Ali Mohammad, who both participated in the Iranian revolution, emphasize the role of two types of technology: tools that let people obtain access to information from outside Iran, and tools that let people spread and share that information on a local scale. Connections to the outside world (direct-dial long-distance phone lines, cassettes of sermons sent through the mail, broadcasts on the BBC World Service) and tools that amplified those connections (home cassette recorders, photocopying machines) helped build a movement more potent than governments and armies had anticipated.
As we enter an age of increased global connection, we are also entering an age of increasing participation. The billions of people worldwide who access the Internet via computers and mobile phones have access to information far beyond their borders, and the opportunity to contribute their own insights and opinions. It should be no surprise that we are experiencing a concomitant rise in mystery that parallels the increases in connection. Continue reading

The spying game

Peter Singer, Project Syndicate

project-syndicate.org  | by Simon Chesterman on July 5, 2013

MELBOURNE – Thanks to Edward Snowden, I now know that the US National Security Agency is spying on me. It uses Google, Facebook, Verizon, and other Internet and communications companies to collect vast amounts of digital information, no doubt including data about my emails, cellphone calls, and credit card usage.

I am not a United States citizen, so it’s all perfectly legal. And, even if I were a US citizen, it is possible that a lot of information about me would have been swept up anyway, though it may not have been the direct target of the surveillance operation.

Should I be outraged at this intrusion on my privacy? Has the world of George Orwell’s 1984 finally arrived, three decades late? Is Big Brother watching me?

I don’t feel outraged. Based on what I know so far, I don’t really care. No one is likely to be reading my emails or listening in on my Skype calls. The volume of digital information that the NSA gathers would make that an impossible task. Continue reading

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Is there a case for mass surveillance?

Slate, William Saletan

What’s wrong with the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program? The answer, according to civil libertarians, is its scope. Edward Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor who exposed the program, calls itomniscient, automatic, mass surveillance.” Glenn Greenwald, the Guardianreporter who broke the story, accuses the U.S. government of  “collecting the phone records of all Americans, regardless of any suspicion of wrongdoing … monitoring them, keeping dossiers on them.” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says the feds are “trolling through billions of phone records.”

It sounds as though NSA goblins have been studying everyone’s phone calls. But that isn’t how the program works. It’s a two-stage process. The first stage—collection—is massive and indiscriminate. The second stage—examination of particular records—is restricted. We can argue over whether this two-tiered policy is too intrusive. But either way, our debate about it has focused on the wrong stage. The problem isn’t the data collection. It’s how the data are used. Continue reading

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Genocide: Worse than War (PBS documentary)

This film is also available at http://to.pbs.org/hMZzq0 Watch Daniel Goldhagen’s ground-breaking documentary focused on the worldwide phenomenon of genocide, which premiered on PBS on April 14, 2010.

Read more about the devastating effects of genocide that often begin by signalling identity markers, enhancing distinction, objectification of an ‘inferior’ group justifying widespread violence – Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide etc. E.g During the 1930s Belgians started to use a system of identity cards in Rwanda sorting each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, Twa or Naturalised.

Chinese clones of US shows a big turn-off

The New Big Bang Theory’s (above) opening scene featured terracotta warriors, while the American series used pyramids. — PHOTOS: KU6

China’s The Unbeatable Ugly Girl (above) had office layouts similar to those in American series Ugly Betty. — PHOTOS: NESOUND INTERNATIONAL MEDIA
By AW CHENG WEI, STRAITS TIMES, 26 MAY 2012BEIJING – ‘Smart? I would have to lose 60 IQ points to be classified as smart,’ says actor Jim Parsons in the American award-winning television comedy about nerds, The Big Bang Theory.

An actor in China repeats the line in a similar series, this time in Mandarin. He even resembles the tall and lanky Parsons, though he is Chinese.

It is an episode of The New Big Bang Theory, a Chinese remake of the Hollywood series.

Background story: Big Bang Theory replica

The copying of America’s award-winning TV comedy about geeks was blatant and bad in The New Big Bang Theory.

Its theme song, opening sequence and even the characters’ physical traits mirrored the original’s.

Canned laughter peppered jokes that fell flat too often. It came as no surprise that this Chinese remake was dropped after just two episodes. Continue reading