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Posts Tagged ‘netflix

A Netflix watch-worthy series is David Letterman’s “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction”.


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It is not binge-worthy because they are released episode by episode instead of an entire series. The episodes are interviews, so they might not be light enough to take in at one go.

But they are worth watching because of some of the people that Letterman interviews. The first episode featured former US President Barack Obama. There will be another episode with Malala Yousafzai.

I watched the Obama episode and it was inspiring and insightful. I was particularly taken by the snippets of Letterman crossing the Edmund Pettus bridge with Congressman John Lewis.

Folks in my part of the world probably do not know who John Lewis is and what the bridge represents. A recent Washington Post article will shed some light on this important moment in the US Civil Rights movement.

John Lewis speaks with a gravitas today as much as he did as a young man. Watch his interview with MSNBC and his responses to Trump’s racist (“shit hole”) remarks.


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In light of the racial tensions that persist in the US and the deadly event in Charlottesville, Virginia, one might wonder if there has been any progress since John Lewis marched and worked with Martin Luther King. Letterman brought that up and Lewis had a poignant response:

… in the whole struggle there may be some setbacks, some delays, some interruption, but you take a long hard look. We will get there.

Any agent of worthwhile change should be encouraged by Lewis’ words when faced with some setbacks, some delays, and some interruption.

Lewis lived that struggle first hand and has the benefit of hindsight. He also has the wisdom of believing in belief, hope, and better days ahead. The situation is better now than before and Obama as US President for two terms is evidence of that.

The writers of Quartz, some of whom I have described as using lazy writing, wondered why one of the world’s wealthiest countries is also one of its biggest online pirates.

The country was Singapore, “the world’s fourth richest country, measured by gross national income per capita and adjusted for purchasing power”. Quartz wondered why Singaporeans still resorted to piracy despite having access to Netflix.

Does it assume that 1) there are no poor people in Singapore, 2) everyone here has heard of Netflix or other legal video streaming platforms, 3) the rich people here (all of us!) subscribe to something like Netflix, and 4) having access to legal streaming should reduce piracy significantly?

These are flawed assumptions. In not trying to answer its own question, it revealed lazy thinking and research.

For example, it did not mention how Netflix Singapore only offers 15% of TV shows carried by Netflix USA. (The exact figure might vary over time and is available in the table at this site.)

It did not mention that we have relatively low-cost fibre optic broadband plans.

Telcos here now push 1Gbps plans. One needs only a cursory examination of this chart maintained by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore to see that the plans hover around S$50 now.

The low access to the full Netflix USA library combined with ready access to high speed Internet point to our ability to get the same resources elsewhere.

Quartz decided to call our behaviour kiasu. That is a catchall term that avoids actual thought and explanation. The label is convenient: You are all just like that despite your money and access.

Like most sociotechnical phenomena (behaviours shaped and enabled with technology), the underlying reasons are nuanced. I have suggested just two and backed it up with the data.

When a few people talk about the Netflix-ation of education, they might be referring to the online, customisation, or on-demand aspect of Netflix.

Coursera seems to have already taken a leaf from the Netflix book by offering courses by subscription.

We will have to wait and see if this has any legs and becomes a worthwhile trend. In the meantime, I offer a perspective on a Netflix-like education that I would NOT like to see.

Ever since Netflix went global, I lost access to the US listing and gained a Singapore listing.

Now some favourites of mine, like Black Mirror and Rock and Morty, are labelled in Chinese.

Why?

Singapore is not in China, and even though we have a Chinese majority, our lingua franca is English.

My preferred language setting is English and most other titles are in English, e.g., Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold (see screenshot above).

So again, why?

For some reason, Netflix also recommends a section of movies to me that is labelled “Western Movies”. Why not call the category “Corrupt Bourgeoisie Shows” since there is an implied value system?

The issue is not so much the language or the labels. It is that there is a one-size-fits-all standard that I do not have control of. Isn’t Netflix-ation supposed to provide more choice based on my preferences?

So while having a Netflix-like education might offer more customisation, it might also view us more like a customer. However, this customer is not king, nor is he or she always right.

This customer is to be mined of data and possibly manipulated into accepting labels and making false choices. This is not the Netflix-like education I look forward to.

If you asked me what the biggest technology news was so far in 2016, I would point to Netflix planting its flag in almost every country in the world.

In case you live under a rock or are indifferent to Netflix, here is a Wired article on Netflix’s conquest.

What Netflix did was no small feat if you recall that it started out as a video disc distribution company. People who wanted to watch movies in the comfort of their homes rented movies online and the discs were sent to them via the post.

The post. Video discs. Imagine that!
 

 
The company reinvented itself by streaming videos over the Internet. In the process, Netflix streaming accounts for more than a third of all Internet traffic in the USA.

This corporate entity has achieved in a decade what educational institutions have struggled with for millennia, e.g., access to resources free from old restrictions like geography, gender, and age.

Admittedly Netflix cannot solve the problem of socio-economic divide. Its library of videos is also not available equally to all due to international laws (e.g., intellectual property) and local policies (e.g., censorship).

However, those flaws are actually evidence of a strength. Netflix did not wait for systems to be ready nor did they try to make everyone happy. Quite the opposite.

Netflix did this because survival & profit were at stake. Those of us who think of ourselves as educators do not necessarily think like that.

Maybe we should. How long will the old school stay relevant when today’s learners can teach themselves? How might teachers reinvent for survival and salary? How long will the system provide conditions for teachers to not change?

Netflix dropped a happy bomb at the start of 2016. Almost the whole world can now enjoy the golden age of online-streamed television.

Apparently the response in hyperconnected Singapore has been mixed. This should come as no surprise as segments of the press, bloggers, and online forums have long provided how-tos on accessing Netflix US via VPN services*.

People go for the US offering because some shows are not available here. This article provides a comparison.

What are some reminders or lessons from this for school leaders and teachers who are integrating technology?

Technology is rarely the rate determining step. Instead it is what pushes, pulls, and leads. Technology creates possibilities, but not opportunities, because it is held back by policies, regulations, or rights.

With Netflix, each country will have different policies on viewer age ratings, adhere to varying censorship regulations, and have separate access rights to television programming. VPN services provide an access workaround*.

Likewise the context of each school, classroom, or learning environment is different from the one next door. All are drawn to the promises and potential of technology, but only a few individuals within each system will keep pace with the technology and resist being held back by policies, regulations, or rights.

These people find workarounds when there are no clear paths. They forge ahead to problem-seek and problem-solve. These are the rebels, the creatives, and the innovators.

Sadly, most systems ignore and even punish this group of people instead of supporting and rewarding them. This is not entirely the systems fault. Teachers tend to be nurturers who do not wish to promote themselves or what they do. If they do not stand out and share, others cannot be faulted for not recognising them.

So if you are a leader, look beyond the surface for innovation and create conditions for hidden talent to show itself. If you are a teacher, show off not for yourself but for the good of your students and your profession.

Above all, do not let the status quo hold you back. Change happens on the backs of those willing to push forward.

*Update: We will wait and see what develops as Netflix tries to block VPNs.

Netflix has transformed from bit player to a major one. It has challenged the practices of what is means to broadcast. It will now be challenged.


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