32. Tackling Sports Betting with Special Guest Dr. Hannah Pitt

Turn on your TV to watch a sporting match in Australia and you’re sure to see advertisements for various betting apps and services. Of particular concern is how these advertisements can affect and are understood by children. To learn more, I invited Dr. Hannah Pitt (Postdoctoral Research Fellow in public health at Deakin University) to discuss her continuing research into this issue.

Find Hannah Online

Notes

31. WWDC and the Reality Distortion Field

Every year, on a particular day in June, I get up at 3:00 am in Australia to watch Apple’s WWDC keynote address. This year’s was really impressive and in this episode, I summarise the most exciting updates. There is, however one part of this story—almost too quickly forgotten—that needs to be addressed and I tell a personal story about security to make sense of it.

Notes

Tetrad for Apple’s Virtual WWDC 2020 Keynote

In my media-ecological research, I have been fascinated by the development and implementation of the ‘tetrad’ by Marshall and Eric McLuhan. First explained in their 1988 book Laws of Media: The New Science, the laws ‘…are intended to provide a ready means of identifying the properties of and actions exerted upon ourselves by our technologies and media and artefacts. They do not rest on any concept or theory, but are empirical, and form a practical means of perceiving the action and effects of ordinary human tools and services’ (McLuhan and McLuhan, 1988, p. 98). To be clear, these laws state that all media/technologies/artefacts must perform the following: enhancement, obsolescence, retrieval and reversal. Each category illuminates not only the functions of any given medium but also its effects on human ability and behaviour.

After watching the live stream of Apple’s first-ever totally virtual, pre-recorded WWDC keynote, I was impressed by the result but also felt the major shift from earlier live streams, which showed people actually presenting physically onstage. Inspired by Andrew McLuhan’s regular sharing of his own tetrads on Twitter, I thought that I would attempt to formulate my own tetrad (above) for this major online event.

The information (message) that was presented by Craig Federighi and co. seemed to be largely the same as that of previous years, however the delivery channel and style (medium) were very different. Taking this noticeable shift and its effects into account, it is important to remember that the medium is the message.

  • Source: McLuhan, M. and McLuhan, E., 1988, Laws of Media: The New Science, University of Toronto Press.

30. The Martin Feld Retail Photo Collection

This week, I reflect briefly on the history of radio, discuss the need for more international content in TV streaming and share the story of a bizarre photo album that went from digital to print.

Notes

Rumination 69: It’s All Leek to Me

Continuing the retail-focused theme for rumination this week—let’s face it, I overthink a lot stuff at the shops—Natasha and I made a quick trip to Aldi on the weekend, after we had visited Coles and Country Grocer, where we buy our fruit and veggies.

I’ve long been a fan of the Aldi checkout experience, as they approach bagging with ruthless German efficiency. Yes, say ‘hello’ and be polite, but don’t linger for too long or expect someone to pack your bags for you. Not to mention, if things get really busy, they very quickly open another checkout lane to deal with the crowds, then close it when everyone has been addressed. They mean business.

As Natasha and I visit three different supermarkets in the one centre each week, we always display the printed receipts on top of the relevant bags in our trolley, just to show that we’re not dishonest or hardened grocery thieves. This time at Aldi, as the staff member behind the space-age, anti-COVID-19 super-sneezeguard finished scanning all of our items, she turned to me and said, ‘May I see your receipts for those other groceries, please?’. Natasha and I instantly flashed the two pieces of paper in her face.

She then continued, ‘Oh wow, that was quick, you must be used to doing that!’. After running her eyes over the receipts, she said, ‘Ah OK, there they are! Those leeks in your trolley look a lot like the ones that we have here’. We subsequently completed the transaction, said ‘thanks’ and left the shop.

As we walked through the centre to reach the car park, Natasha and I discussed this comment about similar-looking leeks, feeling somewhat baffled. There was no packaging or labelling on the leeks that we purchased so that certainly was not the reason for leek-theft suspicion. She must have thought that the leeks themselves looked the same.

Following this, we wondered, ‘How much variation could there possibly be between leek varieties at Australian supermarket retailers?’. Indeed, the leeks did look the same, as they are leeks! We had also purchased capsicums, mushrooms, apples, oranges and other fruit and veggies at Country Grocer before arriving at Aldi and I can tell you, having walked past the equivalent products at our final food destination, they all looked the same too.

Perhaps the next time that we visit Aldi, if I see the same person, I may have to strike up a conversation about the aesthetic similarities between varieties of this edible, elongated cylindrical bulb within the genus Allium—to which the beloved onion also belongs. Furthermore, we may even have to conduct a detailed analysis of said leeks, to measure the extent to which the vegetable’s flat leaf-sheaths overlap each other, when compared to samples from competing retailers. To conclude, depending on the enthusiasm of the Aldi staff member and their willingness to waste (undoubtedly measured) time at the checkout, we could even explore the history of this vegetable and its noble status as the Welsh national emblem.

Until then, it’s all leek to me.