Researching Sensory

For this weeks task we were given the assignment to make a visual representation of a smell. Our group chose the smell of money, specifically the smell of coins. When we first met to discussed  this takes we attempted to represent coins through the sound they made when you dropped them. But when we talked to our lecturer she suggested that this wouldn’t represent the smell successfully. So we went back and decided to take two photographs one of a two people exchanging money and then we took a second photo conducting the same transaction but with dirt replacing the coins. This was to represent the musty smell that coins have.

I edited this task together, the discussions we had, were looking at the idea that senses were connected to memory. We also talked about the social connotations of money, making the suggestion that money is simply numbers in a computer and it does  not have the same physical presence in real life.



Researching People

For this task we had to conduct either a focus group or an interview, asking questions in relation to their use of social media. Looking at we as a society make scene  of ‘friendship’ in the age of social media.

At first we wanted to attempt to conduct a focus group, however we came up against some difficulties obtaining enough participants to take part in the focus group. So in the end we decided to do individual interviews with individual  participants.

We conducted three interviews with different people. In the hub and the library. Before the interviews we created a topic guide in order have set questions which we could use to ask the participants. However with some of the interviews we felt it stopped us from conducting a non-formal interview, as we felt we had to ask these set questions. We struggled to adapt the questions to some situations. For example in one of the interviews the interviewee answered questions from later in the topic guid in the first question, it put the interviewer on the spot and made her a little nervous about asking the same questions again.

I edited this task together after we had completed the task. With some of the footage there was a slight lack of theory based within the footage, so we will have to create a voice over to explain parts of the interview technique to as the video is playing. For example the suggestion that the small talk at the start of the interviews are a key part of making the participant feel at ease for the interview.

A Rose


I took this photo a macro setting, of a rose in my room. I liked the colour and detail this setting gave me. The background seems a little washed out and gray compared to the foreground. This might be avoided by using a different angle for the lighting. I was speaking to someone about light set ups and the standard set up consists of a back like and two side lights. This way it means that there are less shadows cast by the subject. However if I wanted to put enthuse on the shadows I might use a light source from one direction, placed closer to the object.

Researching the Digital (lecture notes)

  • Front end/back end of the social web
  • How can we think about digital media.
  • Techno- utopia vs. Techno dystopia
  • Utopia:
  • Analysis focuses on front-end
  • Positive association with the possibilities of social media
  • People control technology
  • Dystopia

Analysis Focuses on the back-end


Technology controls people


We need to tale both sides and combine them because social media is so complex.


Promise of “web 2.0”

Clay Shirky’s Here comes everybody.

Before social media it was every difficult to get communication up of the group and make their voice heard.

The web 1.0 was difficult for every one to be connected.

There is now more access to communication

More equality

More access

More collaboration


Blogs Wiki is an example of this utopian ideal



Dad sets up account to document his daughters life.

Google promises you that the web is so stable.


However the web is always changing there is no promise that it will be the same in 10 years time.

We don’t have control of al the web, the sites might change or shut down.

There are limitations


Four assertions that limits this type of analysis


-voluntary user contribution are, indeed expressions of authentic personal opinions with no connection to in



The downsides of web

Crowdsourcing as free labour (e.g Yelp) You add your knowledge but don’t get paid, they still make money off or advertising.

“authentic” participation has hidden goals

Wikipedia bias


“if we take the creation of voluntary communities and the provision of new infrastructures as the twin dimensions of the social web, we can see that the phenomenon as a whole is characterized by two contradictory dynamics


one is decentralized, ad hoc, cheap, easy to use community oriented, and transparent.


The other is centralized, based on long-term planning very expensive, difficult to run, corporate, and opaque.


If the personal blog symbolizes one side, the data centres represents the other.


All the trappings of conventional organisations, their hierarches, formal policies, and o







“thus, there’s a tension at the core of the social web created by the uneasy (miss) match of the commercial interests that rule the back-end and community interests advanced through the front-end. The communities are embedded within privately owned environments so that users, usually unaware of the problem.



The surveillance Economy


Your are the product.

Facebook can sell your information.


“every activity online generates a trace that can be gathered and compiled, and companies go to great length making money




Real time tracking is a new form of power


Should it remain in private hands?


“Code is Law” (Lawrence Lesig)

In this new age to collaboration, there is issue of copyright brought about. We are encouraged to share information, but sometime you might want to share things which are copyright protected. Sharing only goes so far, but as soon as you encroach on the intellectuality you are told no.


Front end, we are told to share

Back –end code prevents copyright, we are punished for sharing


Neither utopia nor dystopia in web or social media, you need to focus on both the front end and the back end of social media.



-Ask for….

New legislation

More access to the back end of social media

“we must own the goddam server”

Researching the Sensory (Seminar)

  • Sensory Ethnography Seminar
  • We are participating in a bodily way. For example if we looked at what types of people do drag racing actually getting into a drag car will give us an understanding of what it feels like to do drag racing.
  • The concept of embodiment suggests that we need to intergrade our body and our mind.
  • Surveys are blunt tools, people don’t like doing them. People might lie. They don’t tell details. Good for quantity.
  • Sensory ethnographers are trying to find out what people really feel like. In order to do this they need to be with them so they can understand their environment. There is a level of bias with this. Where is the limit? (studying cocaine use, it would be harmful to take part in drug use)
  • What cultural representation does smells have?
  • Some smells remind us of different people. Some have a masculine connotation like oil. Some have a feminine connotation (mostly food).
  • Our visual experience is constantly being added to by our other senses.

Researching the Sensory (lecture notes)

  • Researching the sensory
  • What are our senses?
  • What do they do?
  • How do they link into sensory ethnography?
  • Aristotelian hierarchical order of the senses.
  • -sight
  • -hearing
  • -smell =Human senses
  • -Taste
  • -Touch =Animal
  • How many senses do we have?
  • Thermoception –Sense of temperature
  • Equalibrioception- balance
  • Proprioception- where our limbs are
  • introception
  • Temporal perception
  • Nociception
  • The western bias
  • Sight is seen as ‘the most formative’ and intellectual of the senses.
  • Senses in cultural context (classen, 1991)
  • -critique of visual reductionism
  • Is there a natural order of senses?
  • Is that order historically specific?
  • Do human beings naturally prefer some colours or taste or sounds to other?
  • Are all of our likes and dislikes conditioned by culture?
  • Habitus and Taste
  • Pierre Bourdieu says family background/ upbringing combines with education to produce a ‘habitus’.
  • The concept of habitus shows how early, learned dispositions become embodied. We literally see, taste and feel things in particular ways because of it.
  • Sensory Ethnography
  • Recognises the researcher as part of a ‘social. sensory environment’
  • Sensory research has considered how sensorial experiences interact with and influence…
  • -social interactions (simmel 1997, Howes 2003 :low 2005)
  • What do we mean by sensory experiences?
  • Bodily experience
  • Unplanned and ‘naturally’ occurring
  • Mental Experience
  • A conscience creation
  • ‘Mere’ Experiences
  • this is the stuff that generally happens
  • ‘an’ Experiences
  • And event with a start and an end
  • Concept of embodiment tries to remove this perceived divide between body and mind.
  • The body is more than a source of experience that is then rationalised and understood by the mind.
  • The body is more than a source of experience, it is a source of knowledge and agency.
  • Embodiment is a process
  • When we say experience are ‘embodied’ we mean that we both learn and discover things through our entire bodies.
  • We learn things bodily not just mentally.
  • Emplacement
  • Embodiment –integration of body and mind
  • Emplacement- Integration of body- mind environment
  • When conducting sensory ethnography we need to think about our own mind body experience.
  • So, sensory ethnography is based upon an understanding of the senses as interconnected and interrelated.
  • Ethnographic fieldwork takes place within a space and is a matter of embodiment.
  • -Multisensory embodied engagement with others.
  • (Pink 25-26)
  • Knowledge acquisition is a social, participatory and embodied practise.
  • e. learning how to do something is about watching people, being taught, trying thins out, practices ect.
  • Knowledge is gained through participation and so knowledge is not brought about from within.
  • Thus, to ‘know’ what others ‘know’ we must ‘do’ what they ‘do’

Researching space (Seminar)

  • analyse the website
  • analyse
  • what information these maps represent?
  • These maps are used to show the predicted weather conditions within the Uk.
  • Not every where is shown, for example main cities are shown.
  • Don’t show weather in southern Ireland.
  • You can change it to show rainfall


  • how that information has been presented?
  • The map can be seen in the centre of the page. With differ boxes around the map containing different weather information. Such as ‘Space weather’ giving you information about solar flares. Focusing on the sun.
  • Seven day forecast, set to the city of London.
  • Can change location to see weather in a specific location other than London.
  • why they have been created?
  • These maps where created in order to give people information about the weather in the UK.
  • who they are aimed at?
  • UK citizens.
  • People traveling to the Uk.
  • how they constrict and reflect power divisions in society?
  • They don’t show southern Ireland or the British Isles.

Researching Space (Lecture Notes)

  • How we research space?
  • Space structures our experiences of the world around us.
  • Its (not ) just common sense….
  • We need to understand global power structures that position individuala with varying levels of power
  • We must acknowledge our biases because it is impossible to consider space without examining our own position within it.
  • We need self-reflexivity to understand the discourses that dominate our own ‘common sense’
  • Manuel Castells –The information society
  • ‘To give an overview of Castells’s trilogy, in a nutshell, it argues tat the global space has increasingly been split into the ‘space of flows’ (or the sphere of the net) and the ‘space of places’ (or the sphere of the self).’(Saukko,.p157)
  • Macro sociological – looks at both society and economy
  • Materialist- ‘facts’ of life
  • Edward Soja-Critical Geographer
  • Space has 3 dimensions
  • -First space: material ‘realities’ that structure space
  • -Second Space: representations and discourses surrounding space that shape our perceptions of certain spaces
  • -Third space: both the material ‘realities’ and the discourse jointly contributing to the construction of space in both material and imaginary terms (lived experience/from below).
  • Implications for method…
  • Multidimensional
  • Context
  • Discourse/Representation
  • Lived experience
  • ‘Soja’s Thirdspace.. calls for a mode of inquiry that examines, or at least keeps in mind, the different dimensions of space or social reality.
  • While the lived, discursive and contextual aspects of space and reality can be studied in separation, both analytically and empirically, they intertwine with one another.” (Saukko,3003 p.166)
  • Map vs Networks
  • Saukko
  • We are spatially located
  • ‘the researching self’ is a spatially located self and every moment of the research process is inflected by this fact. Such locatedness will influence the kinds of questions asked, texts drawn on and, most importantly, forms of cultural knowledge that are available ‘ (Johnson et al., 2004 p.105)
  • Cartography/Mapping
  • How do we map something?
  • It depends what the map is for…
  • -to direct people
  • -to inform people
  • -to impart ideas
  • -to provides a representation

Researching people (Seminar)

  • Topic Guides
  • Focus on specific aspect of experience and work out some non-leading questions. Looking at Aspect of experience.
  • When did you deicide to go to university?
  • Why did you deicide to come to university?
  • What where your thoughts and experiences?
  • Was it what you expected?
  • What did you expect?
  • Is your course what you expected?
  • How do you feel about your course?
  • How much work do you do for your course?
  • How do you make your notes?




  1. Finials problems


-Part Time Job?

-How many hours do you work?

-Do you worry about finials?

  1. Living situation

-What accommodation are you living in?

-What is the environment like in your accommodation?

  1. The course

-What did you think about your course?

  1. First coming to University
  • Fresher events


Planning for this weeks task:

  • Friendship on social media?
  • Have you ever added someone on line who you didn’t know in really life?
  • Is your friendship group the same as your one in really life?
  • What is Difference between friends online and in reality?
  • Are you more comfortable communicating online?

Do you have any personal experience of bad cyber experience?


What social media sites do you use?

-How many sites are you involved in?


How often do you them?

Why do you use them?


How long have you been online for?

How does social media affect your relationships?

Social media security.- What steps do you take to feel secure online?

-Do you feel conscience of what you are putting online?





Researching people (Note from Lecture)

Interviews and focus groups.

Interviews can be very unscripted, or scripted and in depth.

Looking at an in depth understanding of peoples thoughts and feelings.

Not all interviews have to be taken face to face.

Design questions in such a way as to gain the most amount of information.

They have a structure.

Usually 1 hour long, one to one. 

The role of the interviewer is to get them to talk.

Have to adopt varies techniques to get them to respond.


Need to think about who you are asking this questions to.

Need to think about how you choose who you speak to.


Advertising, will get the people who respond to adverts (sample bias) 

Snowballing, recommendation of people to talk to, 

We need to think about where we are will affect the interview. Need to make the interviewee comfortable.


Interview Practicalities 

Informing and reassuring your participants 


Interviewees should be told that they can stop at any point.

Let them know that there are no incorrect answers. They might give answers that they think we want.

Dress appropriately, for the place where you are doing the interview. If you don’t match you create power dynamic.

Must always get informed prior consent.


Topic guides 

Draw up a guide that has a structure. Not really phrased as questions, tings we are interested in finding out. 

Going to need to ament things in topic guide depending on what the participant gives. Want the participant to lead the discussion. 


At the start of the interview there might be a lot of un useful because its just making the participant feel like they trust them.

Need to have open and undirected questions. To encourage them to speak.

You have to allow for the fact that people may have a completely different perspective on the topic.


Non-directive questions.

The questions should not longer than the answers. You want people to keep talking.

Use non-directive prompts to get your interviewees to continue.  



Focus groups 

Often associated with market research.

One of the  ain beinfits of the focuse group, is you get to cover the thoughts and ideas with more people at the same time, they get rid of the awkwardness of one to one talking seen in interviews. Alows the researcher to take more of a back set rather than leading it. It can feel much like an interview between friends.

Similar principles to one to one interviews:

Schedule/topic guide

Funnelling questions (keeping on topic)

Moderator/ Facilitator

Important to think of focus groups as something more than interviews. We are interested in using activities. The idea of group dynamics is important.

Focus groups are the closest thing to a natural discussion of how we would discus topic. Group dynamics.

Practicalities, need to have name tags. 

Important to have refreshments, relaxes people makes them feel like that are comfortable. 

Need a moderator, needs someone to guide the discussion.

Need to record it on video. When you come to write it up you have something to reference to and see who is speaking. 

After interview and focus groups need to be trans scribed afterwards.

Need to think about how to set up the room and be able to talk to each other.

Need to make sure that people you don’t say much, contribute. Making sure not to allow them o form a consensus if some one in the group has a different idea.