Changes in media technologies, especially those that have multiple distribution platforms (movie theaters, big-screen TVs, computers, handheld devices and mobile platforms), complicate the ability to track consumption patterns. Major industry players such as the Nielsen Company, which is based in New York and supports Atlanta operations, have transformed their techniques for tracking ratings data. Preference algorithms, such as one encounters when Amazon or Netflix suggest something else you might want to buy or watch, have grown in sophistication.
The data demand of media industry work is not simply focused on consumption tracking. Other media enterprises are big data companies in their own right. Atlanta-based Weather Channel, for instance, aggregates and drives complex big data streams as they provide neighborhood-specific weather data to Android and Apple devices, among others. The Weather Channel describes itself not as a meteorological enterprise, but as “one of the world’s largest IoT [Internet of Things] platforms.”
At Georgia State, broader efforts across several colleges endeavor to research and train in data analytics. These efforts are consistent with Atlanta’s efforts to become an IoT capital. A task force of executives was formed in fall 2017 to help make the city more attractive for data analytics and IoT work. New degree programs at Georgia State will help train students in advanced analytics, including a new master of science degree program in analytics begun in 2017.
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College of the Arts faculty focus their research on these issues.
One example is brought together in Ethan Tussey’s forthcoming book, “The Procrastination Economy: The Big Business of Downtime.” From the NYU Press synopsis: “In moments of downtime – waiting for a friend to arrive or commuting to work – we pull out our phones for a few minutes of distraction. Just as television reoriented the way we think about living rooms, mobile devices have taken over the interstitial spaces of our everyday lives. Tussey argues that these in-between moments have created a procrastination economy, an opportunity for entertainment companies to create products, apps, platforms, subscription services, micropayments and interactive opportunities that can colonize our everyday lives.”
As businesses try to make a commodity out of our free time, and mobile devices become essential tools for promotion, branding and distribution, consumers are using these devices as a means of navigating public and private space. These devices are not just changing the way we spend and value our time, but also how we interact with others and transform our sense of the politics of space.
By examining the four main locations of the procrastination economy—the workplace, the commute, the waiting room and the “connected” living room—Tussey illuminates the relationship between the entertainment industry and the digitally empowered public.
CMII is developing plans to organize graduate training in Media Analytics, and seeks corporate partnerships that can build the necessary infrastructure to support the training of industry professionals at work in this area, as well as in the area of data visualization.