One of the concepts mentioned in this week’s lecture was that platforms for distribution are changing. One of the ways they are doing this is through the playlist; whether it be yours or someone else’s. In this reading Teresa Rizzo explores the idea of the playlist and its affect on flow in culture and society, as now “playlists are just as likely to be created by viewers as they are by programming departments.” (p. 108)
While the playlist is not a new concept, as it has been used television networks to schedule broadcasting for years, the idea of consumers becoming producers through the creation and use of playlists is relatively recent. It is now a “common tool for viewers to program their listening and viewing preferences on a range of platforms” (p. 110). By simply uploading a video or recording a program we become producers. I thought Cover’s expression of a cause of this as the “desire for democratisation of the media process” (p. 114) was interesting and personally I love being able schedule and organise my media.
Rizzo uses three cases studies to investigate this: Foxtel iQ, Youtube and the iPod. As I have Foxtel iQ, a Youtube account and an iPod this reading struck a chord and led me to realise how broadcasting now retains so little control over my media use.
A similarity that exists between all three types of technology is the “high level of personalisation” (p. 112) as a result of playlists. Playlists allow us to structure the way we choose and receive media according to personal tastes and preferences as “programming and scheduling enters the domain of the user” (p. 117). This can be in terms of content (watching the programmes that we want to watch) and also in terms of time (when we want to watch them). A playlist “breaks with the kind of temporal viewing associated with broadcast television” (p. 113).
A second aspect to the reading was the idea of flow. Rizzo focused on two main theories of this: William’s “concept of flow as a point of reference” (p. 117) and Deleuze and Guitar’s idea where “flow is marked by constant interruptions” (p. 123). In my opinion the latter is much more relevant to today pattern’s of media use where different technologies interrupt one another continuously. Where flow was once a “sensation that [was] designed to keep viewers watching” (p. 120) as a consequence of playlist technologies a viewer has the ability and every reason to interrupt this flow and “create a multiplicity of connections” (p. 123). Therefore, while the idea of flow in its original form may not be compatible with playlist technology, a “flow defined through interruptions” (p. 129) seems very much at home.