182 MC Digital Research Diary

The start of my digital research diary

Critical media methods. This model is looking into different methods of research in regards to culture and the media. The first reading from ‘Writing Culture and Recording Culture’ In: Makagon and Neumann (2009) Recording Culture London: Sage, looks into different forms of research and the academic reliability of them. It makes the suggestion that account that are written down are some how seen to be more reliable, as we are able to contextualize the information.

J.Walter Fewkes in 1890 recorder the stories and songs of the Passumaquaddy tribe. These recordings allowed him to document and preserve a form of culture, which is no longer around today due to the homogeneous national culture which spread in the 1800’s and 1900’s.

To some people it was seen as a form of duty to ‘collect and salvage forms of culture that would disappear’. New development in audio recording equipment allowed not only  a different form of culture to be recored but also music. Robert Winslow Gordon in the 1920’s made recording of shanty and folk songs through out America, creating over 300 recordings. In a way these songs are part of a culture, which like the tribes are becoming forgotten as industrialization took over in both America and the UK.

However the qualitative properties of these recordings, meant that academia  still preferred the written word, because it is harder to contextualize an audio recording. ‘Academia seen as having a ambivalent and sometimes dismissive stance towards other modes of documentation’.

Starting to plan the Behind the scenes video

With in my group we had decided to try and do each task as it was set each week. This is so we have an idea of what our video would look like each week as it developed (also it would mean that we wouldn’t be rushing around trying to edit a 30 minuet video together two days before it was due).

For this weeks task we were told to do some ethnographic research into the different technologies which are used within the Ellen Terry building. Because it was our first task, we spent a lot of time discussing how we would go about doing the task and the theory behind the task but not much time was spent doing the task. Because the day we choice to film, coincided with a open day we found it very intimidating filming people in the Ellen Terry building.

But we did find some interesting uses of technology through out the building, from the very obvious use of computers and mobile phones, there were also people reading books for pleasure. This shows that in some cases people prefer old technologies to newer ones.

The filming technique should be improved upon.

Working on the behind the behind the scenes video


The Individual Research Diary.

As part of the 182MC module we have been given the task of creating a online individual research diary, while we make our behind the scenes video.

While some might argue that a diary should have a clear linear progression, I think it should be treated more like a scrape book. Adding theory, notes and ideas while making the behind the scenes video, I have created this diary with this idea in mind.

I wish I could say I have enjoyed every second of this module, however as I think many people might be able to understand there have been tasks that I have enjoyed more than others, such as the disruption task. I also like being able to take the photos that where used as an over lay in the sensory module (turns out that photography advantage module came in hand after all). That being said there were also times when I found the tasks frustrating. While the smell of money is a good idea, we struggled to come up with a way to represent it at first.

Over all I have enjoyed being able to use the theory from both the readings and the lectures and building something form that. Through our group discussions we were able to plan and asses our tasks based on the main theory.

Researching People

For this weeks task we were given the task to conduct an interview or a focus group discussion. During our season and group meetings we came up with a set of questions and points in order to construct a topic guide. This allowed us to conducted the interviews in a structured way as it gave us a guide as to what questions we should ask. At first our group wanted to use a focus group in order to gain a more relaxed and varied response to the questions. However we found difficulty in finding a large enough amount of willing participants. This meant that instead we had to conduct individual interviews.

The questions we asked were not affected by this too much, due to the fact that we used them as a standard set of questions (we may of asked or changed questions in response to the answers we were given).

The participants that we got to take part in the interviews were also part of our media and communications course, this meant that they had a understanding of what the footage was being used for and so required less explanation than external individuals. However the answers we received were limited to a specific group of people. If we asked a more varied group of participants with people who weren’t doing a media course we might of gained different answers to our questions.

As a means to try and get participants to take part, we advertised on social network sites such as Facebook.  In spite of our efforts we didn’t get a response to the posts (apart from two likes) that would be labeled as adequate for this task.

Making a Vlog

Lets talk about being a media student, Vlog

As part of our behind the scenes video, we have been given the task to make a vlog, talking about our experiences with social media and being a media student in general.

In the vlog I made I talk about the types of social media outlets which I use, along with some issues with social media. For example terms and conditions which contain wording which might have some ethical issues. For example Facebook messenger’s terms and conditions state that they can access your camera on your phone without your knowledge.  I find this slightly intimidating because it suggests that technology has the power not us as the consumers.

There have also been issues with people using either a handle or their own name which are similar to a companies name. At which point the companies do try to stop people from using their names online because they are worried that they might loose out on potential clients. For example Tumbler removed links to a woman’s account and move her posts due to a company having the same name as her handle.

This made me think about what about my name. There have been lost of time when I’ve been trying to make a profile on a social media site and found that in stead of Emma Lawson as my user name I’ve had to have ELLawson, or some other version of my name. Also as part of my photography module we are told to make a separate blog for our photos, however I found that there was already a blog called Emma Lawson’s Photography. Although I am not a company and don’t at all suggest that I’m a professional by any stretch of the imagination. They might at some point find my blog and decide that I’m encroaching upon their company and try to stop me from posting photos. It’s a little scary.

Researching Space

The task we have been set for this part of the module is to investigate a space that our group uses and investigate its history. Along with how it has been mapped and then how we can produce a cartography of the space.

The second part of the task was to disrupt this space in some way (behaving in a way you wouldn’t normally behave or doing something you wouldn’t normally do). We had to think about what the space is usually used for, then think about how it could be used differently to its intended purpose.

For our space we had decided to investigate Far Gosford St in Coventry, this is because the area is rich in history, due to the space being a street the shops and house on that street would be very good to investigate. At first we had an idea that our disruption could simple us having a picnic in the middle of the street, however decided against it (the lack of space and lack of funds for picnic supplies played a big part in that decision). Instead we had decided to walk as a group along the street and then suddenly stop and stand still. The reasoning behind this was the idea that the etiquette of walking on a street is that you don’t stop in the middle of the street. We found that people would obviously go out of their way ignored to try to avoid the group, with some people even looking at our group with perplexed expressions.

Although you could say that its not a exciting disruption, no one was dancing or singing. The simplicity of it meant that we were able to do it repeatedly in various areas along the street, with minimal damage to the area (it didn’t get us into trouble and we weren’t arrested) which is a good thing.

Representation within television

Part of this weeks task is to analyze a fictional tv program in order to see if the representation within the program can be seen as meaningful based on Mary Beltran’s criteria.

One of the readings for this weeks task, looked closely at the representations seen within television.

Representation. In: Television Studies: The Key Concepts. Routledge, 2002: 198-201.


Representation within television. Linked to the issues of depicting reality, because although it attempts to show reality in a realistic way, we must remember that it is a mediated form. Which means that it is the representation of society from the perspective of the producers.

However television still attempts to ‘reflect reality’.
Representations make meanings.
Centered on the notion of stereotypes.
Inorder to understand representation we must also explore ‘power and ideology’
The term ‘representation’ can be used in a number of ways….
  1. ‘to represent’ could mean the straight forward ‘re-presentaion’ of the world, this term enthuses the fact media text is a construction.
  2. Politician as a ‘representative’ of the people.This understanding can lead to thinking about how social groups are shown on television. For example how stereotypical representations may come about. It implies that media representations are a reflection or distortion of something ‘true’ or ‘real’.
“‘distorted’ representations of specific groups of people are those which attribute certain characteristics to the group as a whole.”- we can apply this to events as well as groups of people.
These representations can be very negative as they are seen as “narrowly and damagingly stereotypical”.
The tv producers attempt to counter these criticisms of stereotyping is to give a wider range of ‘positive’ representations. For example roles played by women and ethnic minorities have been seen to becoming more significant status and authority. Such as skins in season 6 where Frankie is seen to take on a more violent role as she ends up in a lot of fights. This is not a position you would tend to see women in, in society.
These representations attempt to resist stereotypes.However it might not be enough to simple revers the stereotype.
Our social identity and position may lead to different understandings of the same event. Negotiation, oppositional, preferred readings of the audience.
Richard Dyer (1985a), looked at how representations worked. Noted number of questions that could be used in order to look at the sense that representations make of the world. “Who represents whom and in what way?”
He also examined the question of ‘Pleasure’, what pleasures are offered by a text and to whom?
He links it with a sense of self and the process of identification. (When we watch tv, we become absorbed into the characters roles or position in the narrative)
“In order to engage the viewer, media representation must provide something pleasurable” But from whose point of view is a the scene being shown from?
Do all audience members get pleasure from something in the same way?
Given social differences it is unlikely that all viewers would be equally at ease with the range of representations shown on television.
Issue of point of view and identification links back to questions of power and therefore ideology. Who has the right to speak? And who is silenced? When considering representation we must not forget that the producers are the ones with the power, in how they construct the media text.
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.

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.

The final push to edit.

Well as with many plans, they do not always go the way you plan (sorry about the pun), At the start of this module, as a group we wanted to try and edit while we went along. this way it would get to a week before hand in and we would be ready. However we found with the amount of footage we recorded when both discussing and doing the tasks that editing took longer than we had anticipated.

So the last the week has been a compilation of late nights in the library, hunched over laptops editing and re-editing of the tasks and completing a number of other coursework assignments. With what seems to be a unnatural amount of hot chocolate consumed, along with nearly 40 biscuits, 3 subways, 5 oranges and enough chicken Tikka to feed a family of four, finally the end is almost here and the video is on the brink of being completed, and ready to be handed in.