Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reflecting on Media Technology (part 3) and the phenomena of 'Gaslighting'

So having left the factory environment of Marconi in Essex in 1979 I became an engineer (Trainee) at ITN the news provider for commercial TV and here it was all about technology and Media, initially when I started
A bit like being in the Young Ones

the News was invariably gathered using 16mm film which was then processed, edited and converted to TV by using Tele-cine Machines.
News copy and scripts were written on typewriters and the only computers were those used to provide the 'Election Graphics'

A Newsroom VDU
First House Aspen Close, Ealing

By the time I left 13 years later News was gathered using ENG(electronic and tape), scripts and autocue were driven by computer newsroom (BASYS subsequently acquired by U.S. technolgy firm Avid) systems and computer graphics and electronic effects were every day technologies. Computers were also starting to be used for library systems and audio was increasingly digitised.

During my time at ITN as well as being involved in the industrial turmoil the industry went through I was an early user of mobile phones (the big grey Motorola I think) which used to have despite their enormous size about a half hour of useful battery life in a very restricted area.
When I was  at ITN I moved from a slightly bohemian life of shared flats and houses to my own home in W5, noticeable at this time was how long I had to wait for a phone to be installed (I think it was 6 months) and also at this time I started a course at University of London dept of Extra Mural Studies, I bought a Canon electronic typewriter with some rudimentary word processing which allowed me to complete essays and do my own home conveyancing.
I did have my first home cordless phone (not BT approved at this time) and also got telephone answering machines that enabled me to be more easily contactable.

Around the time telecommunications were being deregulated (perhaps more accurately re-regulated), Satellite to home (DTH) was becoming a successful means of enabling new channels to reach consumers/viewers and home computers were becoming part of the educational landscape (Spectrum and BBC Micro for example).
Personally I continued to take photo's and also started to use the new small format VHS-C tapes with a camcorder (JVC I think) I bought from a friend two 2" helical scan VTRs that were made by Ampex although only balck and white they werequite impressive and noisy.
Additionally another game changer in the Media industry was the VHS (or Beta Tape for the technically superior) device which became  a must have for the modern family who wanted to catch TV for those 'even when they were out times!' (or to enable you to catch the 'other' channel when you were watching something else).
A typical early home 'Micro'


One of my favourite writers and one who I often feel is overlooked by the literary establishment is Patrick Hamilton, as well as novels like The West Pier (which became The Charmer on TV) the troubled author wrote plays Rope (a strange and groundbreaking film for Hitchcock) and Gas light are examples you might enjoy.
Gaslight (sometimes it's called Gas Light and the play is known as Angel Street in the USA) too was filmed and was a big Hollywood hit for Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman . Charles Boyer plays in the film a
A film poster for Gaslight
character Gregory, who does everything he can  to convince his wife Paula that she is going crazy, he has of course an ulterior motive.
Subsequently the behaviour shown in the film has been used to describe the manipulative act of making another believe that they are going mad 'Gaslighting' there's even a book by Victor Santoro (1994) the book is called Gaslighting: How to Drive Your Enemies Crazy and is about using the technique to exploit the phenomena.
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