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.
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.
Beltran, Mary. Meanigful Diversity: Exploring Questions of Equitable Representation. Flow 12:07, 2010.
Beltran suggests that there are four main questions we should ask when considering if a representation is meaningful or not.
- Are the characters of colour fully realized individuals?
Are the characters of colours within the story adding to the story, or are they simply their to add to the development of the lead white characters’s development.
A way to asses this is to ask questions about who’s home life and inner world being shown?
For example Programs such as ‘Glee’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ develop stories line with their white charters more than its African American characters. For example within ‘Glee’ a lot of attention is placed upon the character of ‘Rachel Berry’ a white female singer while not expanding upon similar female black characters story lines.
- Do the writers and producers appear knowledgeable about and interested in the worlds and perspectives of the non-white characters?
The predominantly white-male media industry, means that a lot of the writer of these programs are white. It leads to the question of if there was a more divers team of writers maybe they would have personal knowledge of potential characters and stories that white writers do not.
- Does the diversity of the cast appear natural?
For example does the white lead in a program have a best friend of colour without realistic explanation? A lot of the time this comes across a unrealistic and gimmicky.
- Do the series or film producers exploit the natural diversity of a story’s setting or subject matter?
Populating the cast in accordance with the diversity of the region or of the career the characters engage in.
For example a program set in London such as Eastenders has a divers range of cast members, which could be found within London’s natural diversity. However Programs set in a rural setting are less likely to have divers cast members (this dose not mean to say that there is no diversity in rural areas) but the question we have to ask ourselves is does the choice of cast appear to be ‘natural’ do the non white characters appear out of place in the story setting.
Researching the Visual
Representation. in: Television Studies: The Key Concepts. Routledge, 2002: 198-201
Representation is closely linked to issues surrounding depicting reality. Can Tv give a true representation of reality? It is more like a reflection of reality. This is due to the simple fact that even programs such as the news is produced, and thus can be given from the perspective of the producers. For example news shown in different counties focus upon the stories from different perspectives, or at least from the perspective of the elite who have the most to gain or loose form the news.
Whether a tv program sets out to reflex reality or not, ‘it always engages in a process of representation’.
Research has looked into the way representations make meaning. With a lot of focus being placed upon stereotypes.
Power and Ideology- who has the power and what message are they trying to portray in their representations.
‘to represent’ ‘re-prsentation’
What we see is a construction, it is highly edited.
‘representative of the people’ – suggests that what we seen represent us or ‘stand in for us, the consumers’
‘This understanding of the term, lead to thinking about how social groups are shown on television’
‘Media representations are a reflection or distortion of something ‘true’ or ‘real’.’
‘Negative representation’ -focus upon one attribute or characteristics of a group can lead to stereotyping.
As a means to counter the arguments for negative representation and stereotypes, they offer a wider range of ‘positive’ representations.
However is reversing the stereotype enough? Some writers argue not.
Our own social identity and position might effect our understanding of an event, this suggests that people will not have the same reading of a representation. This brings in the ideas of ‘negotiated’ ‘preferred’ readings of media texts.
Richard Dyer (1985a) -outlined an approach to help readers understand how representations work.
- noted number of questions that could be asked regarding the sense that representations make of the world.
- who typically represents whom and in what ways. (power and Ideology)
- suggests ways in which students of media might analyse specific examples of stereotypical representations.
- also examined the questions of ‘pleasure’ – what pleasures are forced by a text and to who?
- links with a senses of self and the process of identification.
- how we become absorbed into a characters role or positioning the narrative
- inorder to engage interest media representations must provide something pleasurable.
- Whos point of view is it shown?
- Do audience members all get pleasure from something in the same way?
Power and Ideology
- who has the right to speak?
- who is silenced in these representations?
The system of power offers legitimacy to some meanings and marginalizing others.
- predominance of white middle-class males in media industries could lead to some views being over-represented of tv. They are then seen as normal or ‘common sense’. Representations seen as ‘ideological’
Stuart Hall (1997a)
- need to see representations as constitutive.
- do events really have a fixed true meaning?
- representation cannot capture the real event, because what is being represented (the initial event) is dubious in the first place.
- Reality is not fixed or known
- Reality has no fixed meaning until it has been represented.
- Hall argues’ reality does not exist meaningfully until it has been represented’ ‘nothing meaningful exists outside of discourse’ (1997a)
The task of television studies is to try to understand how meanings are produced through practices.
Researching the Digital
Between Democracy and Spectacle
The Front- End and Back-End of the social Web
The Front-End of online media -Where users interact
“the ability of users to produce and disseminate new creations and to take part in public cultural discourse”
This suggests that the front-end of the online media gives users more freedom to produce things, and therefore reinforce the idea that we are not simply consumers we are prosumers as we make and distribute our own material.
The Back-End of online media- To which the owners have access
This refers to the sites that people use. For example Youtube, is a site on which people can share their videos which they have created. However Youtube owns the site and so has the right to remove or block deny account it sees to be violating its agreement.
The Terms and Conditions within social media sites can also be an example of how the companies control the sites and the content on those sites. For example within the term and conditions of the Facebook messenger app, stat that it can access your camera and photos at anytime without informing you.
There is a growing tension between the dynamics on the front-end and on the back-end the web 2.0. This could be due to the increasing amount of control producers feel they have over their work and so they might feel restricted with what they can do when using sits such as youtube. The only real solution to get past the back end of the internet, would be to build or buy your own server, then create and mention your own website. This is the only way to have full creative control. However it can be very expensive and time consuming producing such a thing. This might be due to the fact that you need to have some idea of code and how to write a program and a website in order to do this.
It has been suggested that the involvement and participation the front-end of the internet is simply a simulation of actual involvement (we have no say in how Tumbler is run) and instead we are still controlled and manipulated by the back-end of the internet.
Guy Debord called it “the heart of the unrealism of the real society”.
The social meaning of technologies are shaped by how ‘they are embedded into social life, advanced, and transformed by the myriad of individual actors, large institutions, practices, and projects that constitute contemporary reality ‘.
Therefore the importance given to technology is due to the ways in which we use it.
‘Much of the current analysis focuses primarily on there front-end and thus paint an overly utopian and very one-sided picture’
‘There are, of course, critical analyses that focus on the back-end, yet they also paint a very one-sided picture of technological dominance’
This would suggest that must of the research surround the front and back-end of digital media contain extensive biases.
We make two assumptions which could explain some level of bias seen within digital research.
1st ‘all forms of social life involve communication; thus, changes in communication directly affect all forms of social life’
This docent take into account the fact that some people have an agenda to make changes, it suggests that changes in how we communicate with each other, directly effects the way we communicate with each other. I can see some instance where it might feel like this is happening, for example the mobile phone and the age of texting among teenagers, during the mid 2000,s 2005-2008 mobile phones didn’t have touch screen and where more used simply as a phone than how its used now. The ability to text meant that teenagers could communicate with each other more freely (while still being confined to the 10 digit dialing pad). Teenagers and other groups in society started to use short had text abbreviations such as ‘G8’ for ‘Great’ or ‘Brb’ for ‘Be right back’. Now some of these shorthand text talk still is used within the digital media when we communicate with each other such as ‘Brb’, but culturally abbreviated speech has mades its way into every day conversions of teenagers. With statements like ‘YOLO’.
However we must not forget how ‘the changes in the organization of the digital are taken to be so powerful that they simply impact on the material reality’ And that understanding these new changes in communication provided a ‘privileged vantage point’ which allows people to understand a range of social transformations.
This argument states it as a simple contrast between the old and the new, we are expected to replace old forms of communication with newer technologies.
2nd ‘conflicts are the result of miscommunication and a lack of information about the other side. Thus, improved communication leads to cooperation.’
- an old utopian promise
New forms of communication do not stop conflict. The inventor of the radio Marconi predicted that the radio ‘will make war impossible, because it will make war ridiculous’, this was two years before WW1.
New forms of communication can be argued to impact individuals more than whole countries or societies. Lets face it when the telephone was first invented people wanted to talk to the same people they’d been writing letters too for years. If people didn’t talk to each other before why talk to each other after. However the digital media opens it up on a more real and actualized scale, for example ignored to phone/ text some one you had to have their number (there was always the directory, but that might of lead to some awkward conversations), with the digital world we can gain cases to people we don’t know and follow them, ask them questions. They could be on the other side of the world.
With the adoption of digital social tools, projects can be realized without need for money, bloging is free. Small campaigners were able to produce their messages to a wider audience online than they where able to with out the use of social media. For example the ‘Mattress Protest’ started small but went viral due to the use of digital social media. These small groups and even the larger ones are no longer dependent upon an organization in order to publish their ideas.
‘Only now that… (digital social media)…. are well understood, and can be taken for granted, are they beginning to unfold their full social potential.’ The difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 is accessibility, Shirky. The power of the digital tolls are being felt more today due to the fact that they are more easily accessible to people and not just to ‘geeks’. However ‘only 60% of US households have broadband’ which could suggest that it is only accessible to those with the finial ability to pay for it, while it is very useful to some eating and paying the bills is a bigger priority. We might also suggest that the generations before the digital age might choose simple not to use new technologies.
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.
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.
- Front end/back end of the social web
- How can we think about digital media.
- Techno- utopia vs. Techno dystopia
- Analysis focuses on front-end
- Positive association with the possibilities of social media
- People control technology
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
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
“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.
More access to the back end of social media
“we must own the goddam server”
- 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.