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Tweeting the Oscars

By Jennifer Hanson

A few weeks ago, I live tweeted the Academy Awards.  The Oscars are one of the major film events of the year, and it provides an opportunity for film fans to get together to discuss film.  The Oscars were a trending topic all evening, which made it easy for interested individuals to search what others were saying.

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The discussion varied wildly: some talked about the fashion, others talked about the ceremony itself.  Still others took the opportunity to discuss their favourite films of the year, and their favourites among the nominees.  Many did all of the above.

Oscar parties are still common, but the rise of the Internet social media has brought the party right to your living room.  You no longer need a fancy gown or an invitation to a party to watch the Oscars with friends: instead you can “watch” it with them in your pajamas, right in your living room.  Smartphones make tweeting easier than ever, as well.

Major events like these are a great way to interact with fellow film fans.  I love live tweeting the Oscars and other awards shows so much that I never seek out an “Oscar party”.  I simply make myself a special dinner or snack, and sit with my phone and tweet.  While some may question the relevance of the Oscars today, I believe they are more relevant than ever.  You don’t have to wait until the next day to discuss the biggest surprises of the Oscars (as was the case in my youth), instead, it’s instant on Twitter.

Another fun element to live tweeting the Oscars is participation from well known and respected film critics.  Famed film critic Richard Roeper (of At the Movies fame) was tweeting during the Oscars, and his insights were fun and interesting.  It is difficult, if not impossible to make a living nowadays as a newspaper film critic, but the ones that are established tend to be very active on social media.

In order to stand any sort of chance at making a living as a film critic in the future, a budding critic must have a blog that is updated regularly, and must regularly tweet about movies.  I personally think the time has ended where film criticism has any financial value, because it is so easy to be a film critic nowadays.  As anyone could see during the Oscars, everyone who watched the Oscars and tweeted about them offered their opinion on movies.  A decent number of them had blogs, as well.  The future of film criticism is on blogs, online newspapers, and even on Twitter.  People who were on Twitter during the Oscars received first hand proof of the passion people still feel for movies, so film is still a very relevant media, even if film criticism has little financial value.

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Andrew’s Technology Narrative

When I look back at the technology that I’ve used and learnt from throughout my life, I look at it from two different points of view.  The first being the different types of technology I have used or experienced in my home or social life growing up.  The second being all of the different and ongoing technological progressions I have experienced during all my years of schooling.

My father always loved to have the coolest gadgets or “the next big thing”, so growing up I was always surrounded by more than my fair share of technology.  He worked as a salesman and always brought home something new tech-wise at least once a month.  For many of the devices and/or games he would bring home they were often weeks or months away from hitting the stores.  For a long period of time in my childhood, coming over to the Burns’ house (aka my house), was the coolest place to be.

Like most young boys in the 80’s all I really cared about was the newest Nintendo game.  However, because of my father’s line of work I not only got to experience the newest Zelda or Mario installments before my friends did, but also certain Nintendo controllers before they hit the shelves.   My basement had all the videogame ‘firsts’ with the “Power-Pad” (pressure sensitive foot mat), the “Zapper” and “LaserScope” (gun like motion controllers), and the “R.O.B.” (mini robotic toy controller).  But it was Nintendo’s “Power Glove” that made me become fascinated with technology.  For those who aren’t familiar with the “Power Glove”, you should ‘Google it’ because it was literally decades ahead of its time.  The closest thing to compare the “Power Glove” with would be a Wii remote from Nintendo’s most recent system – the Wii – but instead of a small rectangular remote controller, this controller was a glove that covered half of your arm.  Without going into too much more detail about the “Power Glove”, it was the first piece of technology that really amazed me and piqued my interest in all things electronic.

My interest in the video game aspect of technology never really faded over time.  I’m both a guy and kid at heart after all.  Yet as I got older my father was no longer the tech guru I went to for the latest devices.  Sure, he still brought the occasional next generation gadget home like an early model electronic organizer, 10-disc CD changer, or the big screen TV with a built-in remote tracker(37’ was big at the time).  However, when the newer technology started to shift toward computers, I began turning to friends for “the next big thing”.  Having one of my best friends’ Dad work for IBM helped usher me into the world of computers.

At the time the Internet hadn’t become a household thing yet, so going over to my friend Kevin’s house and having his dad introduce us to the World Wide Web was a pretty cool thing.  The dialup and turtle-like speed for browser loading sounds like the worst possible punishment for kids today, but in the 90’s watching one web page take five minutes to load from the other side of the globe blew my mind.  I can still remember hearing Kevin’s mom yelling down to the basement to for us to get off the computer so she could make a simple phone call.  It wasn’t until about a year or two later, when my family got our own Internet capable computer, did that same feeling of excitement over tedious browser loading turn into frustration.  Wanting the faster surfing and computer speed, as well as other tech toys, I began working odd jobs to earn enough money to buy my own electronics.

I had a group of friends that were always trying to start the next trend by getting the newest electronics on the market, each of us trying to one-up the last.  For us “the next big thing” were MiniDisc players or MDs.  Technology-wise they were the best thing out on the market when it came to portable music.  Holding the same amount of music as a regular CD, their discs were half the size, and they were encased so they never got scratched.  MD Walkmans almost never skipped, and the discs could be erased and re-written like a cassette tape; but without any sound degradation.  Having a MD player at my school was a very cool thing and for a while was the best way to make mixes or compilations for parties.  Like any fad or fashion trend, MiniDiscs started to become the thing to have when it came to portable music and everyone wanted one.  However, our next big tech trend was short lived as MP3players and the first Apple iPod soon were released before our MiniDisc discovery could ever catch on.

As much as I could credit my father and friends for introducing me to modern technology, a huge portion of my computer literacy was actually learned in school.  At an early age my fellow classmates and I started our computer lives on the original floppy-disk Macs.  We learned everything from how to use home row keys, improving our typing speed, to using word documents for the first time.  It wasn’t until I was in the eighth grade when I was actually, and more importantly, properly taught how to use the Internet.  My eighth grade teacher steered my fellow classmates and I along the information superhighway; teaching us things then that are all too commonplace today.  She taught us simple things like how to use a search engine, set up an email account, and a number of other web related tips and tricks to help surf the web.  As the student during class I became the teacher when I came home, teaching both of my parents how to properly use their expensive PC for something other than Solitaire.

When I got older, I found out the reasons why my brother, sister and I got to have the coolest new tech toys in the neighbourhood growing up was because my father used the five finger discount.  I still had a keen interest for the newest electronics, so when I was a teenager and starting to make my own money, I decided to not follow in my father’s footsteps and worked for all the cool stuff I wanted.  My curiosity for new technology helped give me a better and more honest work ethic because I could never settle for last year’s model of any device.  To this day I still upgrade my electronics to the newest versions I can afford or I’ll save up until I can.

Technology from my early life to now has shifted to the polar opposite end of the tech spectrum.  As a young kid, the only technology I used came from my basement with a controller and an eight-bit plumber (Super Mario reference), but today practically everything around me is technology based.  At work I spend on average about an hour a shift looking up reports and at home I’ll send an email to my friend in Glasgow from my phone while cooking a dinner that I just looked up online from my laptop.  To put my technological time-line in a numbers perspective, when I was kid the only thing I had plugged into an outlet in my room was a bedside lamp, and today – in my room alone – I have over a dozen electronic devices plugged in surrounding me.  Needless to say, if the power at my house ever goes out, I will have no shortage of expensive paper weights thanks to modern technology.

Jennifer’s Technology Narrative

One of our assignments had us writing a “technology narrative” that outlines our relationship and history with technology. It was a great assignment that had us all thinking about how technology has impacted our lives. You can read mine below!

Since I was a young child, my father has been my greatest technological influence.  At the age of four, we had a very old computer with a black and white monitor that used DOS.  My dad taught me how to use a computer using that old machine, and I spent hours playing games on it.  From that time on, I loved technology and always longed for the newest and best gadgets.

It would be years before the newest and best were within my grasp.  Eventually my dad brought home a computer with the Windows 3.1 operating system.  We had that computer until I was ten years old.  I learned to type on that machine, and I continued to long for a computer that made going on the Internet a possibility.  However, my dad refused to get us an Internet compatible machine until I was ten, because he wisely knew that once we had the Internet, we would spend all of our time on it.  Instead, he would occasionally bring out his work laptop and connect to the Internet to show us movie trailers (which took a half hour to buffer over dial up) and other websites.  My loving father sat through the Titanic trailer time and time again because he knew it would make me happy.  As an adult, I realize just how long he sat there, waiting for it to finish buffering, despite the fact that he didn’t have and has never had an ounce of genuine interest in the movie.

Eventually we got a new, Internet capable machine, and my brother and I were in awe.  We were still on dial-up Internet (and would remain so until I was 14), but access to the Internet allowed me to communicate with people all over the world.  At the age of 14 I joined a movie forum where I met many close friends; people I still communicate with to this day.  I found a group of people who shared my passion and whom offered me a support system I greatly needed while I was in high school.  There was something so beautiful about meeting people who’ve experienced vastly different cultural and life experiences and bonding with them over our shared love of film.

Occasionally, my online life and my real life have collided.  I’ve met 12 people in person that I’d originally met online; of those, 8 were from the movie forum.  All of my experiences have been positive, save for one profoundly negative experience that served as a warning about being too trusting about who you meet.  This past summer, I met up with several of my friends during some traveling I did to the United States.  I went shopping at Mall of America with Elizabeth, and went for dinner in Chicago with Tim and Amber (who are married and first met on the forum we all post on).  It feels odd to think that I wouldn’t have these people in my life if I hadn’t met them online.

Blogging has been something that has been a part of my life for many years.  I’ve been blogging about movies on and off for nine years now.  For over a year and a half, I’ve been blogging at 200movies1woman.com.  I write about every movie I watch, and about the film industry in general.  It’s a lot of fun, because I’ve developed a bit of a following, and I even get comments from filmmakers!  I once got a comment from Adalbert Lallier, the subject of a Canadian documentary called Once a Nazi.

Despite my early advancements in the cyber world, I didn’t get my first cellphone until I was 16, and that was only given to me after years of begging for one.  My father adamantly loathed cellphones, and refused to acknowledge how handy they could be.  The cellphone I got was a barebones Samsung.

The barebones Samsung served me all through University, where my online commitments weren’t always immediate.  Once I began the Creative Communications program in 2009, it became clear that eventually I would need a more advanced cellphone.  In the summer of 2010, I got an iPhone 4 shortly after it was released, which began my life as an early adopter (much to the horror of my dad).  The affection I felt for my phone was immediate.  I can tweet, post on Facebook, answer emails, look up information, check movie times, and read the news.  It is, without a doubt, the most important piece of technology in my life, and I’m never far from my phone.

One of my most important possessions.

 Being “connected” all of the time does have its downsides.  I’ve spent a grand total of ten days offline in the past six years, and my phone is always by my side.  I even keep the ringer on at night…just in case someone needs to get in touch with me.  The odd occasion where my iPhone has become buggy has generated a concerning amount of anxiety.  This past Thanksgiving, I had an anxiety attack when my phone wouldn’t boot up after deleting an app.  Feeling so attached to a device and needing it to feel “normal” is, quite frankly, a bit concerning, but I know I’m not alone.  Cellphones have simply become part of our lives, and it’s bizarre to be without one.

My passion for the Internet has allowed me to pursue a career that I had never thought was possible in my youth.  Growing up, I wanted to be a film critic or a journalist.  It became quite clear that I was not cut out for journalism, but my passion for social media and my skills as a writer (polished by years of blogging and posting on forums) has opened a new door for me.  I majored in advertising during my second year of Creative Communications, and focused on social media management during my major advertising project.  I’ve since gotten a position managing social media and other communications for a local non-profit organization.  My goal has always been to help people, and I truly feel like I am making a difference in my role, which means I feel an enormous amount of satisfaction every day at work.  Had I not spent years of my life posting on forums and developing a personal Facebook and Twitter account, I don’t think I would have developed the skills or the passion required to do what I am doing.  My position is not one that would have existed ten – or even five years ago.

After years of longing for the latest and greatest gadgets, I’m finally happy with the products that I have.  I have my iPhone, but I also have a MacBook Pro, an Apple TV, PVR, high definition television, Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 2.  There is not a single piece of technology I am longing to buy at the moment.

In many ways, my life has been shaped greatly by advances in technology.  I’ve met many of my closest friends online, developed my writing skills, discovered social media, and built my career.  I used the Internet to foster personal growth and develop my many hobbies, so it’s only fitting that I spend my career in the online world.  I understand the importance of keeping up with technological advancements, and I’m eager to live the rest of my life as an early adopter.

Our Project…

We are three students currently studying at the University of Winnipeg. For our class, Reading and Writing Online, we were required to build some sort of online presence based around something we are interested in. As all three of us love film, building a film review blog seemed like a natural fit for us. Read on as we discover the good, the bad, and the ugly from the world of film!

Sincerely,

Andrew

Graeme

Jennifer