The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers was created during the Victorian Era and was popular in England, France, and the United States. During this time, the international import trade had just begun to blossom. Europe and the United States experienced a broadening of horizons in terms of imported goods. Influenced by the supposed practice of harem girls in Turkey attempting to communicate with their secret lovers, people found it romantic and amusing to send coded messages to people they held dear. I think that flowers also sent an immediately recognizable message to the recipient. A person could look at a bouquet featuring baby’s breath, blue bells, and forget-me-nots and know that the sender gave a declaration of constant, eternal, and pure hearted love, while a letter expressing the same sentiments would not have the same effects that quickly.

Even at the time, there were some disadvantages to the Language of Flowers. The most obvious fall back was the lack of standardization of the Language of the Flowers. People made up their own meanings, publishing separate flower dictionaries. The sender may send some flowers with a certain intention while the recipient could understand an entirely different meaning. Today, the Language of Flowers is an even less useful tool of communication. Even less people know the Language of Flowers and there are faster means of communications than sending flowers. People can send and receive messages instantaneously in a much more private setting.

Phonebook (week 4)

I remember when I was a kid, if my parents wanted to call someone, they would take out a large and heavy phonebook to search for that person’s name and phone number. But it seems to be impossible to find a phonebook now. Back then, because of the lack of information and ways to store, record and share these contact information, phonebook was definitely a hit. That enabled people easily access a large amount of contact information from a highly integrated source. The invention of phonebook definitely made phonebook owners’ life easier. What’s more, since the popularity of phonebook, it was a good place to promote products or places. Because of the revenue coming from adding advertisements to phonebook, its producers were able to give out more phonebooks for free in order to increase the number of users of phonebook. It seemed to be a good loop, where every participant could earn profit out of it.

Phonebook couldn’t be an exception of being electronized like some other media. Nowadays, almost everyone has a phone with what we can easily connect to Internet. The concept of “cloud” has been accepted by more and more people. There is no need to have a heavy and inconvenient phonebook now. An app can totally substitute phonebook. I think phonebook is still a good idea, since every participant can earn profit out of it. The problem is that the previous form that presents this idea now has better substitutes. These new substitutes are more user-friendly and more convenient than the old heavy phonebook. This revolution is unavoidable, but also helpful to humans.

Publicity Stunt and Private Moment (week 3)

Publicity stunts are happening frequently these days; especially with the development of Weibo such kind of media that accelerates the spreading of information, they can happen really fast and have a huge impact sometimes.

When there is a movie about to be released, one actor and one actress from that movie are usually “accidentally” reported to be in a relationship or have a fight. Usually when the news comes out, the name of the work that is going to be released will be mentioned. The purpose of this approach is definitely to arouse people’s attention. I personally think this type of social using of media is actually not legitimate, since it is conveying unreliable, or even fake, information to people with the aim of making more profit. Meanwhile, I have to admit that this approach totally works for it can always make people repost or comment. There is also another kind of explicit publicity stunt, which is called advertorial. Some advertisements are formed in a way that Weibo users cannot easily tell that some posts are actually promoting some brands. These advertisements always come with impressive stories or something having the ability to inspire Weibo users to repost them. There are more media users who are becoming sensitive and discerning, which is forming a strong obstacle for this illegitimate social use of media. Publicity stunt needs a large scale of participants so that target effect can be reached.

The initial purpose of Moment in WeChat is that users can share information only with WeChat friends, which means the privacy of WeChat Moment can be guaranteed. This is, I guess, the reason why when Weibo was a hit, WeChat Moment could still attract a large number of users. The prerequisite of privacy is that the agreement from both sides of WeChat users. Only if two users agree to add each other as a friend can they see each other’s post and share their own posts with him or her. The little “friend circle” that formed according to our choice and approval is the scope of the media environment, and it is also the reason why this social use of media can work well. I personally think that Weibo is stepping, or already stepped, into a declining period, meanwhile Moment has seldom shown any evident decline. Although I still view Weibo everyday, I seldom post or repost anything now. A large number of people, I guess, are like me, getting bored with Weibo where information is mixed regardless of being related or not and authenticity and switching to Moment, where content of posts is much closer to you and users have a purer place full of information from people you want to be, or already are, friends with.

Instagram (week 2)

Frankly, I have no idea why Instagram is such a hit right now. Instagram is an app, which enables you to post photos with some built-in filters at the very beginning. About one year ago, Instagram added video sharing function for users so that they can upload 3 to 15 seconds long video.

What is special about Instagram is that Instagram confines photos and videos into a square shape. I personally don’t understand the reason why, but I guess this regulation is helpful for making sure all the videos and photos have unified size and style so that when other users are viewing them, the unified photos and videos can bring them the feeling of neatness. People tend to become more satisfied with neat stuff, I think, because everyone is more or less perfectionist.

Also, there are some fun facts(memes?) on Instagram. “Throwback Thursday” aka “tbt” is a really popular hashtag word. It is from a game on Instagram where people upload an old photo and plus “#tbt” under the photo to cherish the memory of those past days. I noticed that this game “#tbt” is actually spreading from Instagram to other media platforms. This is similar to what happens a lot on Tianya.cn, which is probably the largest forum in China. There are a lot of memes in China that originated from Tianya.cn, and people use them anywhere, from Renren to Sian Weibo.

As a social networking app, it enables users to like posts, comment under them or follow other users, which is the same as most of the social networking apps.

I think Flickr and Instagram are similar, because both of them are based on the same idea, which is providing a place where people can upload and share photos. What is different between these two media, to me, is that Flickr is more focused on professional photographs; meanwhile, Instagram is easier for people who don’t have any photography experience to upload photos and polish them with some filters.

Sony Walkman

Sony Walkman was released in 1978 by the very well-known company called Sony. Sony Walkman changed the way people listened to music. The release Walkman set out a wave of merrymaking for the music fanatics across the globe who could afford this fancy player. How did this small piece of box looking cassette player change everything? What was so different about this so called Walkman?  Before it was released, people were used to listening to music on tape recorders or vinyl record players. Wouldn’t it be just ridiculous for a person to carry a tape recorder around when he was walking down the street? Would it be convenient to carry a 10 kilogram music player when you were going for work?

Surely not! Sony set Walkman in the market so people could listen to music of their personal choice anywhere and anytime they wanted. It came out as a pocket music player which people could take anywhere and. Cassettes were used for storing and playing music on the Walkman.  All people needed was a Walkman and a collection of some cassettes to enjoy the same music they enjoyed at home on those heavy “old fashioned” tape recorders.

Although Walkman remained very popular amongst most of the music listeners in the world for a long time, it is considered a dead media now because of the advancements in technology. New music players like Apple IPods or Microsoft Zunes were what caused Walkman disappear from the market. Although people could listen to music anywhere with the Walkman, it was still inconvenient to carry cassettes around. Moreover, IPods and Zunes were designed in a way so they could perfectly fit in your pocket and you would not need any other media except the device itself to play back music. You could get rid of those tape cassettes or even the bulky looking Walkman. No one buys a Walkman nowadays because they can buy IPods or Zunes and store thousands of songs on one single device and access music without any additional media. Walkman only allowed users to use a single cassette at a time which meant that people were restricted to 15-20 songs every time they went out for a walk. If only Sony Walkman was 0.24 inches thick, weighed 88 grams and if it could take pictures and store thousands of songs, it would have been still one of best devices to play music but unfortunately it cannot and that is why it’s considered a dead media.

Abacus-today and the past

Originated in China, abacus has been the most effective and popular way of calculating in Eastern world for thousands of years.

In ancient China , according to my knowledge, the advantages of abacus were quite obvious.

First and most important, the accurateness and quickness of abacus in adding and subtracting are impressive, which may even overpass those of modern calculators. The project of the atomic bomb in 1960’s used abacus instead of computers for massive limitless operations.

Meanwhile, the small size of abacus makes it easy to be taken almost everywhere. Some may argue that the operation of an abacus is too complicated and you have to bear some incantations in mind before operating, however, users of abacus before were mostly traders and small-business owners, which means the massive public don’t even need to face maths, let alone abacus.

However, some fatal disadvantages of abacus makes it nowadays a ‘dead’ media.

First of all, the most distinguished difference between abacus and calculator is that the latter doesn’t need any technique or practice, you can master it as soon as you pick it up, however, that’s not really the case with abacus. In a society which requires speed and public participation, abacus is surly not so convenient as calculators and computers.

Secondly, we are now in a time of mass data, people pursue accurateness and speed. When  facing thousands and millions of numbers, it’s absolutely not a wise decision to do it by person who needs specialized training. To meet the highest accuracy and lowest cost, abacus must be abandoned.

In conclusion, the wider participation of the public and the higher need of accuracy and speed both cause the ‘death’ of abacus.

 

The Sony Walkman

The Sony Walkman represented a breakthrough in the music industry. The walkman was a particularly good idea because it made music mobile – listening music was no longer confined to homes, restaurants, etc. Not only did it make music mobile, but it also made music personal. It was small enough to be concealed in a bag or pocket, and was not ridiculously heavy. The walkman eventually died out because of the digitization of music. It was cheaper for companies to distribute electronic copies of their music directly to customers, who could listen to them on digital MP3 players. It was also much more convenient for customers, who had access to an infinite number of songs via the internet, rather than having to travel to a store to purchase a cassette tape.

 

walkman[1]

Homosexual Closet

Homosexual is not an open topic in the past,and people are afraid to talk about their different sexual orientation.Then the word homosexual closet came out reasonably.Before 1970s,homosexual was regarded as a kind of  mental illness by American Psychiatric Association.And the public just couldn’t accept this abnormal relationship.So gays just chose to not announce them or hide their sexuality actively.They chose to keep their secrets in a closet as the darkest part,an unmentioned secret in their lives,just like what surgeons did with dead bodies they bought(after 1832,it was permitted to get dead bodies for medical research,but in order to avoid scary,many surgeons kept the dead in their closets).It’s a good way because they didn’t find a better choice to protect themselves.They were forced by the atmosphere of the whole society.

According to law professor William Eskridge: “Prior to the 1940s, same-sex intimacy was literally unspeakable, as the homosexual and society conspired to keep the matter secret. By the 1940s, however, the edges separating the two halves of the double life were eroding, as greater numbers of homosexuals transgressed the lines separating public and private spheres and more heterosexuals became curious about the secret life, either to condemn it, to explore it, or both. The erosion required the homosexual to decide whether to openly admit homosexuality or to keep the private life closeted and separate from the public one for fear that exposure of the former could destroy the latter” (2).

LGBT(Rainbow flag)

In 1970s,LGBT rights sprung up in the United States.Some LGBT began to call on for understanding and support,and they were encouraged to come out of the closet and admit their sexuality.With the development of the society and countless campaigns,all LGBT started to gain their position.Till now,except the remaining stubborn people,the society accepts homosexual and the law admit its reasonableness.So people needn’t hide back any more.Coming out of the closet just becomes the right choice to make.No more fear of others’ judgement,because everyone is equal and you do nothing wrong or harmful.No more shame of being a gay,because you were born that way and it is the gift of the god.They need identity and luckily they get that.What impressed me most is that Ellen Page once said “We deserve to love fully,equally,without shame and without compromise.” After that much suffering,homosexual closet lose its necessity in the world.They turn from protection to hurt.Hence,just come out bravely and treat everyone equally.

同性恋

To love,to live.

Human Sacrifice

In a time in which we as a species understood very little about the world around us, it is completely understandable that human beings thought that human sacrifice would be a good idea. After all, who doesn’t like ritualistic practice resulting in the betterment of the community? Back in the day when human sacrifice was considered the norm, people believed that the sacrifice of these individuals was really doing good for the community: if you could kill off one slave or lower-class citizen in exchange for greater good for the collective, it made sense to take that option.
Since then, human sacrifice has fallen out of practice because people have started to question the morals behind sacrificing the one for the many, people have started to question if the gods really want people to kill other humans, and people have started to question the existence of gods in general.

“Gotchi, tama-Tamagotchi!”

Tamagotchi Music Star (Released 2009)

Bandai’s** clever marketing and awareness of Japanese social structures in the late 1990s undoubtedly had a hand in the extreme popularity of the Tamagotchi (a small, simple, egg-shaped toy). No detail was left to chance, even the name of the toy was a carefully constructed combination of the Japanese “tamago(たまご),” which means “egg,” and “-uotchi (ウオッチ)” a suffix meaning “to watch.” The result of the portmanteau was a word phonetically similar to “tomodachi (ともだち),” which means “friends.”  According to Dead Media Archive, the toy reached global popularity because it catered to a human desire to nurture. Japanese kids wanted pets but their families either couldn’t afford them or didn’t have the time or space to keep them. The Tamagotchi’s constant care requirement filled the void. For adults, the appeal was similar. Those who wanted felt the need to nurture but didn’t have the resources to raise a child or a pet could purchase a Tamagotchi. The toys were portable and disposable, making them even more convenient. Simple design features made Tamagotchis easy to take care of and appealed to younger audiences, further adding to the toy’s popularity.

Marketing such a simple toy, of course, was no small feat. Bandai needed to convince the public that this seemingly insignificant toy was exactly what the public needed. The company handled this by emphasizing connection making. Consumers could connect with the toy on an intimate level (they could even name their pets, which Dead Media Archive interprets as an owner-property connection) and connect with their friends on a personal level. Children made a competition out of it- who ever owns the longest living pet is the  winner (Dead Media Archive). Through this type of interaction, friends became closer and Tamagotchi sales skyrocketed. Surprisingly, the Tamagotchi’s fame was short-lived. After two years, sales had already started to fall.

The decline of the Tamagotchi had mostly to do with the controversies surrounding it. Though the toy was designed to be simple and portable, it was extremely time consuming. Older audiences grew frustrated that they could not leave their Tamagotchis alone for a few hours to fulfill their responsibilities (like going to work) without their beloved pet dying. Children, more interested in the toy than their schoolwork, spent more time caring for the pet than on their studies, prompting schools all over the world to ban the toy and irreparably damaging Tamagotchi sales.

While Dead Media Archive does mention the ongoing production of Tamagotchis, it fails to interpret this continued production in the context of declining sales. The Tamagotchi has been reinvented several times and in each new version, Bandai has incorporated more modern technologies into the toys in an attempt to bolster sales. Still clinging to the idea of connectivity, Bandai began to include mating, infrared technology and an internet community in Tamagotchi design. Mating forced two consumers to physically connect their devices to “mate” and create the same “Tamagotchi Baby” for each user to raise. Infrared technology not only allowed longer distance mating, but also allowed Tamagotchis to visit each other and play games together. Tamatown, the Tamagotchi internet community combined all the previous design elements and was one of the first handheld gaming devices to combine the use of the device with the use of the internet (the Nintendo DS came out slightly earlier with this feature, but it should be noted that Bandai and Nintendo have a partnership- there were several Tamagotchi games released on Nintendo platforms).

[Introduction of internet capabilities: American Tamagotchi V3 Commercial]

All of these evolutions increased social connectivity, but failed to return the Tamagotchi to its former glory.

Tamagotchis have failed to return to the high sales surrounding their original release because the niche they filled no longer exists. The toys were popular because people were looking for portable, constant companionship and entertainment. Now, mobile devices serve a variety of functions, including entertainment and social networking. Games (Candy Crush, Flappy Bird, etc) fulfill the entertainment need while Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging fulfill the companionship. These apps are more brightly colored and require less patience, therefore making them the obvious choice. Though Tamagotchis are still being reinvented and sold, newer handheld devices (like smartphones) have doomed them to a lifetime of sitting on museum shelves.

**Bandai is also known as Bandai Namco in the United States

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Sources: Dead Media Archive: Tamagotchi , List of Tamagotchi Releases

Picture: Familitchi Blogspot