Thursday, January 31, 2013
In her book “The Future of Nostalgia,” Svetlana Boym reminds readers that nostalgia was originally a medical condition. The word was coined by Swiss doctor Johannes Hofer in the late 17th century. He used it to describe a debilitating disease that plagued its victims with depression, obsessive thoughts of returning home, and hallucinations of scenes from their homeland and the voices of distant loved ones. Populations especially at risk of contracting nostalgia included displaced workers, students from foreign lands, and of particular concern, soldiers fighting abroad. Boym explains that “[i]t was unclear at first what was to be done with the afflicted soldiers who loved their motherland so much that they never wanted to leave it, or for that matter to die for it.”
Today, of course, nostalgia is no longer a battlefield illness. Instead, curiously, nostalgia manifests itself among many Americans as a longing for wartime.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
On last week’s show, we aired Brooke's interview with Michael Apted and Tony Walker, director and star of the “Up Series.” Brooke had no shortage of questions for Michael and Tony: even though the edited interview ran a whopping 17 minutes, many interesting tidbits of conversation ended up on the cutting room floor. We've salvaged some of those outtakes, and present them here for your enjoyment.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Last week’s episode of OTM featured an interview with Nate Silver discussing some of the central themes and ideas in his new book,The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail but Some Don't. Silver suggests in the book’s introduction that the problem of discerning signal from noise is one of particular importance in an age of “Big Data,” an era of increasingly powerful publishing and communications technologies. “[If] the quantity of information is increasing by 2.5 quintillion bytes per day,” he writes, “the amount of useful information almost certainly isn’t. Most of it is just noise, and the noise is increasing faster than the signal.”
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Back in December of 2010, OTM reported on the passage of “CALM,” the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act, by the U.S. Congress. The act requires broadcasters to measure and regulate the loudness of the commercials they air in very particular ways so that a program with dramatic whispered dialogue isn’t interrupted suddenly by blaring advertisements. It’s been more than a year since CALM was approved, and that means there’s not much time left before the FCC begins enforcing a new set of loudness rules on broadcasters. If all goes well, by December 13th, 2012, audiences will be spared harsh and jarring transitions into and out of commercial breaks. But is there no one who will speak up in defense of blaring “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” advertisements before they’re muffled?
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I had been avoiding watching the inflammatory video posted on YouTube that has sparked anger and violence in Egypt and Libya this week (I had no interest in giving the nonsensical film any more attention than it has already been getting). But we are a media analysis show, and here at OTM we started doing some of our own digging into how this little known movie by a guy in California managed to get the attention of people on the other side of the world. As part of that research, one of my colleagues asked me to compare the original English trailer with a version dubbed in Arabic. Clips of the Arabic version had been shown on Egyptian television, and we were trying to see if the translation was accurate. From the clips that I saw, the translations seemed fine, but what I discovered was far more interesting than an inaccurate translation.
Friday, May 25, 2012
This week OTM reflects on a night twenty five years ago when two Chicago television stations' broadcasts were interrupted by the someone posing as the fictional computer generated host “Max Headroom.” But of all the faces available to hide behind, why Max Headroom's? What was it about a disembodied computer program that appealed to the Chicago signal hijacker?