Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whiskey as a Network.

Choose any one product and explain how its production, distribution and consumption can be seen as a 'network'. Identify relevant nodes, ties and flows in this network. Pay attention to the role of ICT and indicate where technology might fit into the network.

Irish whiskey is becoming one of the fastest growing spirit categories in the industy, with sales increasing more than 60 percent in the past decade. The product is enjoying a revival worldwide, and in a world that is becoming increasingly smaller with each year, you will never find yourself far from an Irish pub. Whiskey is an essentail fixture of these Irish pubs, this product and Ireland and inseperable.

Whiskey could not be produced, distributed and consumed without being part of a bigger interconnected network, which is made up of nodes, ties and flows.

Irish whiskey has been in production since the 16th century, with the first major (and still open today) distillery Bushmills being founded in 1608. Even though there are only three Distilleries still active in Ireland, Bushmills, Midleton and Cooley, there is still a huge demand worldwide. Jameson ships out 2.3m case equivlants (case equivlants are 9 litres of spirits) every year. It has become not just a drink to celebrate St.Patricks day, but a drink for any occasion.

The headquarters for Bushmills and Midleton are in the Dublin headquarters of Irish Distillers, Cooleys distillery is ran from the distillery itself, as they are an independant factory.

The headquarters could be considered as the central node, all processes are controlled from here. This centre connects with the next level of nodes, these nodes are where the product is produced, packaged and distributed, for example, the Distilleries. The next level of nodes are the shops, pubs and any other places the product will be sold to, before being bought by the consumer.

For the whole process to be a success, all these nodes need to be connected so the product can pass from stage to stage. The connections between these nodes are known as ties.

The ties for whiskey to be produced, distributed and consumed would begin from the origins of the raw materials used to brew whiskey, which would be fermented grain mash, such as, barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat and maize. All ingredients for whiskey is grown and distributed to the distilleries from Irish land and Irish farmers, no ingredients need to be imported.
So there is a tie between the farmers and the Distilleries. The ties continue from the Distilleries to the location for sale.

The success of the product relies on advertising, through television advertisments, the radio, the internet and also, the representation of whiskey in movies have helped characterize whiskey as a cool, gentlemans drink. All these things create ties with customers worldwide. It is through the ties that information about whiskey reaches the customers. The information flows through the ties, allowing the customers to gain knowledge about the product.

Overall, the cycle of whiskey production begins in the fields of Ireland, the ingrediants are then sent to the Distilleries, the finished products are sent to the location of sale and then the money handed over by the customers is sent to the centre headquarters.

It is a web of interconnected nodes, ties and flows, that work together to produce and distribute the product.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The first two communication revolutions were the evolution of writing and the invention of printing. The world is now going through the third communication revolution resulting from the convergence of communication satellites, computers and digitization.
Digitization converts all information, text, sound and pictures into a binary code that can promptly travel through a global network of computers linked by telephones, fiber optics and satellites.
New media is the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies. Most technologies described as "new media" are digital, some examples may be the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, computer game, CD-ROMS, and DVDs.
According to Van Dijk, the New Media is defined by its characteristics of integration, interactivity, and digital code.
The most important structural New Media characteristic is the integration of Telecommunication, Data Communication and Mass Communication into a single medium.
Integration is the merging of Telecommunications, Mass Communications, and Data Communications.
Two revolutionary techniques enable the process of integration.
1. Full digitalization of all media.
2. Broadband transmission through all connections by cable and air.
Van Dijk, J. (2006). The Network Society. (2nd Ed).

There has already been merging of certain communication forms but if they continue to merge, will we be left with just one form of New Media?
Interactivity allows a two way flow of information between a computer or other electronic devise and the user. A sequence of action and reaction.
Digital data is the most suitable for enabling interactivity. Interactivity sets apart the Old and new medias. Old media was more, sit back and interact, whereas, New Media has become more engaging. Technologies such as DVD, and Digital TV where the audience can control what they watch result in more interactivity. However, the internet is the main interactive system.
Today we are surrounded by a multi level convergent media world where all modes of communication and information are continually reforming to adapt to the enduring demands of technologies, changing the way we create, consume, learn and interact with each other.
Could these on going improvements, for example, in telecommunications be creating a spaceless world? Will electronics eliminate the need for face-to-face interactions?
We can already communicate large quantities of written information over long distances at almost no cost, by using information technologies such as email, fax machines, the Internet, and the World Wide Web. Existing technologies even enable us to hold virtual meetings in which people can look at and talk to each other over long distances.
So what is to become of society if the New Media continue to decrease social activity? Have they really thought it through? As Van Dijk pointed out, they did not think of the future consequences when developing private transportation as opposed to public transportation which resulted in traffic congestion environmental degradation and global warming.
So what will the consequences be of the roads for information and communication we are building?