Digital Story Reflection

BCM240

The Digital story project seemed to kick start straight away.  We all had submitted our first major project, ,that truly was a creative challenge, for us as writers, finding our creative and engaging voice on media, audience and place related matters. Hence the subject name, with a few days off to relax and recharge, I was back at uni ready to kick off the final 4 weeks of session and for the year. The tutorial after the break got us all thinking about our plans and concept for our next major project, the digital story. I was truly puzzled by the thought of a digital story. As in I didn’t really understand the layout or what I was expected to do. I began thinking of an essay or report style piece. During that tutorial we all had brainstorms of possible ideas for our stories. I had many ideas processing through my head at that time. The tutorial concluded, though my thoughts for that week didn’t stop there. It was the next night, Wednesday and I’m sitting down watching TV. The ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ was on. I enjoy that show so I continued to watch that and in between commercial breaks I flicked over to other channels. Its then, when I notice the amount of reality TV shows we have at the moment, the bachelorette was on channel 10 with previews for many other programs. I begin thinking that I would like to investigate that.  I played around with some ideas over the next few days, and trying to understand what love affair audiences have with the reality TV shows they watch. I was beginning to get set on the project until I was on Facebook one afternoon. I was just on scrolling on the newsfeed as most of us do, catching up on what I had missed for the day, which in Facebook world can be a lot. I follow the page “Wollongong Crap Parkers” and come across a few new posts on the page by people who have caught on camera, local people’s terrible parking attempts. The whole idea of ‘Naming and Shaming’ people on a social network for socially taboo crimes fascinated me. What are these people’s intentions of doing this? This was a new concept that I really was starting to consider. When the next tutorial rolls around, we learn that a major feature of our digital story is ethnography research. When I begin to think of ethnography, I decided to take a chance and a challenge and do the naming and shaming story. As this project focused on ethnography and had loose guidelines I found myself rather stuck on how to begin research. I knew the types of questions I wanted to ask however I didn’t know who to ask. After having a chat to Susan in the tutorial, she helped me decide that I’d need to contact some of the ‘Namers and Shamers’ over Facebook in a private messenger. I found a post on the page by a guy named Vinh who asked to be Anonymous for my research, which I didn’t mind, though found odd as he sounded proud of his public service of justice. His post was a car in the Warrawong Westfield car park. I immediately liked this, as I work in that centre and could imagine that someone would park terribly like that. He was quite friendly and easy to talk to. I introduced myself in the message and clearly stated that the research was just for a university assignment. I didn’t want him to be worried or concerned. The second person I interviewed was Corey, again he was easy going and didn’t mind an interview, his responses were very similar to Vinh’s aka Anonymous so I didn’t feel the need to duplicate them onto my story. I chose his post as he was the only one to cover up the license plates. I found this quite respectful as it is what I would do when publically shaming them. Both the guys didn’t know of what rules there were about photographing peoples license plates, which I found amusing as I believe most of those shamers wouldn’t have, so I needed to research and confirm that once and for all. My ethnography and secondary research underway, I was at the point to decide on my platform to present my story. I was hoping to figure out Prezi and give that a try, I have wanted to try a Prezi presentation for a while now but this time I just couldn’t commit to trying to learn it as I go. I decide a blog post was too simple, so I go to my familiar presentation software, Powerpoint. I like the structure and outcome of a PowerPoint it comes across quite professional. In the end, I am happy with how I undertook this research, as intimidating as it was, reaching out to strangers, their co-operation made it a fun and informative task constructing my digital story.

The Reflection

BCM240

As I began this course I was unsure of what exactly I was getting myself into, “Media, Audience & Place?” I thought. I couldn’t exactly get my head around what this course would be about specifically. As Week 1 rolled around, I found myself, enjoying Kate’s lecture and idea of the role of the audience and being a writer in a public space. Using the WordPress program was a familiar process, especially as a Communication & Media student, getting into the regular weekly blogging practice however would be a test. In the past I have often been a bit slack in this department. When the second week rolled around I was immediately enthusiastic and excited for that week’s 800 word blog. The blog post being, an interview of a person from an older generation and their experience with television in their childhood home.  A lot of people I heard were going to interview their mother or father, though with my parents only being 20 years older than I am, I didn’t feel as though that would be as intriguing as I needed it to be. My Grandmother was the next logical choice as she grew up in a rural town during the 1950’s. Conducting the interview on my grandmother was trickier than I anticipated.  We were out for dinner with my mother in a casual setting; I did however remember to bring a pen and notepad. Though it was easy to get caught up in conversation, and let minor details slip. I learnt some great interviewing skills, like actively listening for details and asking follow up questions and asking how these moments in my nans childhood made her feel. My mother is a case worker for DOCS so she was giving me tips as well as acting as an audience member, and giving her input on things, so it gave us all a chance to all have a good reflect on the past. My grandmother in one of her answers, the first question I asked actually about her memory of childhood TV was that of my great grandfather using cellophane over the screen to make it appear in colour. We all had a good laugh and made us realise how far, in terms of technology we have come. When it came to writing my blog that week, I felt well informed as well as intrigued as to how I was going to write my findings from the interview. I also wanted a way to find my voice as a writer, a voice which well well informed as well as creative. The BCM240 course was different to any other blogging related subject I have done. I needed a way to express my voice as a writer and be engaging for the reader/ audience, as this course I was beginning to find out was highly focused on the audience. The following weeks blog’s of the NBN interview and the cinema experience were also some of my highly enjoyed researching and writing experience. The NBN interview focused on me returning to my Nan , this time in her apartment. We found thoroughly enjoyed looking upon all her technological devices, all of which were internet capable. We discovered that a lot of her television viewing relied a lot of her internet usage, her smart TV and ipad were her main sources of television viewing, we both came to the conclusion that as soon as NBN coverage were available in our areas we would both jump on the opportunity to upgrade to higher speed internet. We both though are relatively happy with our current internet speeds, though its be possibilities that come with faster internet that we both liked the idea of. The week task of the cinema experience, I found to be interesting as I was critically observing everything in the whole experience in reference to Hagerstrand’s constraints.  The Capability, coupling and authority constraints that dictate our whole movie theatre experience. From choosing a movie, deciding on what session time, the ordering of food, the social rules of the theatre itself. When writing the post on the cinema, I needed to think back and recall all events of the night, unlike the interview I had to rely solely just on my memory making it a bit more trying than I had anticipated. By now I felt I had gathered my confidence in my writing and my voice as a blogging writer. I was looking forward to creating my blog post as the topics were of interest to me and made me think more critically about ourselves as audience members in the mediascape. As I think of the mediascape and my role in the participation in the whole blogging task. When I recieved my feedback from the first submission, I decided I was no longer happy with my wordpress theme that I have been using since the start of my account 2 years ago. It wasn’t working for the image I wanted to represent to reflect on my writing style and character, so I took the plunge and changed it completely. It now comes across more inviting, more intriguing and more easy to navigate around and view posts from different categories. This blogging task tested me not only as a writer but also as the audience member. I made conscious effort to keep up with my peers weekly posts. Not only did I learn from their research I also began to find out more about them as a whole. Their writing techniques and expression helped me engage with them using comments. Upon reflection I do feel if I was more active on Twitter I may have increased traffic on my WordPress site and more discussion in the comments section may have been stimulated, however though in all I am extremely happy with how I have enhanced my writers voice and somewhat ‘re-branded’ my WordPress site for continued use as my career writing in the Communication and Media industry.

The Public Space

BCM240

The Public space as we know it, almost always involve a form of media broadcast. When we are sitting awkwardly in a medical centre waiting room, there is a television playing a morning breakfast show or infomercial or it’s a news program. This screen that we are all watching is an element that we are all familiar and have freedom with in the private space. So when we start bringing these technologies into the public space what rules and ethics and codes of practice are expected when sharing this space. I found myself asking the same question the other day when I was in the gym. The gym a place of health and fitness, a place where we turn to for our well- being is also a public space that is having a hard time balancing the ethics and privacy that we expect.  I first go on the cycle’s machine and while I look around, the gym is relatively busy most of the people on the cycles are glancing at the television screens on the wall in front of. Channel 9 is playing on one screen and channel 7 is playing on the other, both with closed captions on as there is music playing over the gym speakers. The music is more stimulating than the boring networks breakfast shows however it begs the question the need for these screens. I find myself also watching the TV’s on the wall, struggling to understand what is actually happening, though it almost has a hypnotising effect on me. As described in the lecture for this week, the TV is an ambient object in this environment.

The TV is not the only screen culprit I witnessed. People using their mobile phones in public spaces have become an ordeal for many. I look around and see people watching YouTube videos while running on the treadmills, people texting and people taking selfies in the gym mirror (probably to post about their current whereabouts). This is a cultural trend that we all now seem to take part in, which is taking selfies and feeling the need to document and broadcast every single moment in our lives on social media.

As I’m taking conducting my ethnography in this public space, I must be aware of ethics. Ethics are important in a public space as the privacy and identity of my subjects must be kept safe.  The type of ethnography I’m conducting is participant observation; this is a type of qualitative research. So when taking photographs I must be careful not to breach the privacy of my subjects.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2353028/opinion-candid-photos-ethical-dilemma-in-internet-age/

Some top ethics in public space photography include:

  • Don’t harass or make people feel uncomfortable when trying to photograph.
  • If someone asks not be photographed, this MUST be respected.
  • Do not use somebody’s photograph to publish or exploit in any way.

Interesting fact, when a photo of you is uploaded to social media, like Facebook, you can claim ownership over that photo; however Facebook has the copyright of that photo.

The Cinema

BCM240

https://i1.wp.com/www.activitysuperstore.com/images/pics_large/LCIN.gifIt was a cold Friday night, raining, very heavily. My friend Ash and I think of stuff to do other than lazing on the lounge in front of the TV watching Simpsons re-runs (The Mr Burns “see my vest” one in case you wanted to know) then I decide that we should go out and do something. Half an hour goes by, with the usual “can I be bothered?” and “do I have to get out of my trackies?” thoughts going through our heads when we decide to go to the movies. We look online at session guide and see the movie ‘Vacation’ and decide on that one. ‘Vacation’ is the reboot/sequel to the classic 1980’s National Lampoons Vacation, European Vacation movies etc. As of course as everyone does now, we watch the trailer on YouTube. A few cheap laughs and some known actors as well as Chevy Chase from the original. We then decide the movie is worth our “hard earned” money to see at the theatres.

As Hagerstrand has defined, we have had to deal with our Capability constraints. This is one of the key constraints I feel most people encounter when going to the movies. The actual effort of going, do I have enough energy to sit in the cinema for over 2 hours? I feel the answer can be varied depending on days. This type of thinking leads towards Coupling constraints. Debating on which cinemas we want to go to, if I want to be out in a social setting on a cold night and interaction with other people.

We sit in the cinema, after purchasing our tickets and not being tempted by the candy bar (which we noticed nothing has prices on it, making you have to ask to see if you can afford it or not). It’s a 7.50 session, so not exactly late, though the cinema isn’t very busy, 20 people max. There is many couples, all relatively young. My friend and I both groan as we automatically assume that young people will talk during the movie as we both do ourselves. We often will talk if the movie makes reference to something we like or anything like that. We are sitting pretty much in the middle of the cinema, so we can have the best view or screen. All the couples are sitting either in front rows or behind us. We have that relief feeling that we don’t have anyone directly near us though also somewhat insulted that nobody wants to be near us? Like are we those weirdos you see on the train no one wants to be near? As the movie is playing, I really need to use the bathroom and ofcourse have that dilemma in my head “do I hold it?” then I won’t stop thinking about needing to go and wishing I could just pause the movie, this is the Authority constraint at play.  The whole movie theatre experience is an Authoritarian environment. You pay for your ticket, pay for food; sit in assigned seat (supposedly), you don’t talk during movie, you can’t pause or rewind the movie.

So when driving home after movie I really began to saw how Hagerstrand’s human constraints really affect daily life and rituals such as movie theatre trips. In the modern world today we have more freedoms with our technology than ever before; we have greater access, and interaction with our media. The cinema experience is an experience that is declining with future audiences. Statistics from Screen Australia show that attendance rate of movie goers has dropped with the average person attending the movies 10.7 times in 1994 to 6.8 times in 2014 that’s almost a 50% decrease. Screen Australia believes that media consumption is changing, people want more on-demand and easy access media from outlets such as Netflix & Apple store. Price is also another factor that now attributes to less movie goers, a British study showed that the average price for a movie trip, including ticket and food or parking fees now adds up to $17 making it a costly experience to do on the regular. As a student myself I’m thankful for student pricing some cinemas offer, also carpooling when you can and eating beforehand, so I can still experience the cinemas and continue to support this industry that is struggling in today’s world.

The NBN

BCM240

The NBN?
The NBN stands for the ‘National Broadband Network’ and is a government owned initiative that involves rollout of replacing the old copper telephone lines and replacing them with new fibre optic lines.

What does this mean?

New lines means faster internet and who doesn’t want faster internet right?

This rollout across Australia has been a slow process, I only just found out this week I’ll soon be eligible for NBN internet, when two men knocked on my front door asking where my line was connected.

So this week I decided to visit back to my nan’s house, refreshed ready to ask her some more questions, this time not about her past TV viewing habits but about her present internet usage.

My Nan lives in a unit in Cronulla right by the beach, beautiful place to live, though I wasn’t there for the scenery.  Nan has an unlimited broadband account; I notice her large internet modem sitting in on the kitchen bench.  I asked why she needed an unlimited account and she’d because it was just easier to not having to worry about data. This was somewhat understandable as my nans always has friends over or some random family members staying with her, so assuming she provides them with her Wi-Fi password they have use all the internet they like. It’s now a form of hospitality, internet Wi-Fi that is. The majority of hotels/motel provide complimentary Wi-Fi or to be purchased but it it’s something that we all look for now when choosing accommodation. My nan has many internet devices, her laptop, iPad, her iPhone, her smart TV and her Apple Tv, wait her iPad mini, did I mention that? She has one of those too. So with so many internet devices (many Apple devices as I noticed) I asked Nan about her internet speed. She was quite happy with her speed of internet but admitted if she was streaming on ABC iview or something it would be a little bit slower than normal especially during internet peak hour. I was intrigued as to what most of her internet usage consisted of. She explained that she uses internet for everything, her laptop was for more work related tasks and web browsing, her ipad was for more social media and YouTube viewing, her phone automatically connects to the Wi-Fi as well and she’d use that for social media as well and her Apple TV for downloading and streaming content. So as I learnt there was a lot of internet activity for one individual in one unit.

My final question was about the NBN.

Nan explained that the NBN hasn’t reached her area yet, although she’d be keen to upgrade, she would like more information on NBN pricing and actual speed rates of new internet before upgrading to it. She also explained how that her building may have trouble getting connected as she has tried to get Foxtel in the past and due to the unit block not having a Foxtel satellite she can’t connect to it. That that a funny thought, the idea of not having the freedom to access something modern like pay television or high speed internet in this day and age. Whenever my nan and myself finally gain access to the NBN network we are both sure it will change our internet habits and change our demands and expectations of speed and connectivity in the near future.

The Audience

BCM240

The Audience

We, the audience have changed a lot over time, as from last week’s post, where I interviewed my grandmother on her television viewing growing in the 1950’s. She described how watching television in the home was a luxury as well a treat. Family and friends would gather around one TV and watch what was playing without much interruption or interaction. She would have a dozen friends over at a time to watch Mickey Mouse Club or whatever was playing at that time.

The audience for many decades till the 21st century had always been ‘monologic’. That is broadcasted towards with no interaction. We were told our news and watched our television programs without conversation. In today’s world, we have media platforms such as social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter where we can communicate with anyone from around the world, at any time, in any place. Now not only can we commute to one another on social media, we can now use social media to commute to our broadcast media. There are forums, chat groups and ofcourse the hashtag. Have you noticed now that with every show, especially reality programs such as, The Block, X factor, Master Chef and The Bachelor has a live feed scrolling at the bottom of your television screen? These shows allow a ‘Dialogic’ medium between the media and its audience, we no longer have to be spoken to, we can interact and converse with other viewers about a TV show. The show ‘Q and A’ and made its format on the basis of its interaction with the audience. The Show uses a mediator who poses a controversial topic each week where a panel of guest speaker, mostly politicians and media personalities who debate the issue, while given questions by the audience members and comments of the live twitter feed that many of its viewers use to voice their opinions and feelings.

Tell-A-Vision

BCM240

It’s Wednesday night and my Mum, Nan and myself are all out for dinner.

07 Dec 1934 --- 1930s Man Newspaper Reporter Wearing Hat Typing Smoking Cigar --- Image by © H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Corbis

Image by © H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Corbis

My Nan, Wendy is 68 years old; she spent her childhood years growing up in Port Macquarie as the middle child of 3.

While in middle of our meal I look at my Nan and say

“I would like to ask you about your TV experiences during your childhood”.

My Nan begins to laugh, as many memories come flooding back to her. Nan first reminds me that when she lived in Port Macquarie in the late 1950’s, her family was one of the first to own a television and in those days they were a ‘luxury item’ and people would only own one.

I immediately chuckled as I’ve grown up with at least 2 or more in the house and had my own TV since I was about 13.

I ask what made her laugh and Nan tells me the story of her Dad, my great grandfather or Poppy as I’ve always known him, would create his own colour TV. I look at my Mum; both of us puzzled, we both look back at Nan and ask to explain.  She reminds us, well me, that TV was only ever in black and white back then. “Poppy would use cellophane over the TV screen for colour, blue cellophane for the sky, green for grass and red for soil or ground”.  Nan recalls it not working very well but it was very amusing. We all laugh as it seemed rather dodgy, though it was inspiring that my Pop was like an innovator of sorts, making TV in colour and not just accepting black and white picture.

My next question to Nan was about the TV viewing habits of the household. She starts by telling me that because TV’s were a ‘luxury item’ not many families owned one. So people would stand outside electronic stores like Harvey Norman and watch the TV’s through the window and there would be a loud speaker so people could hear them. We all found that to be a strange and unusual thing, that you couldn’t imagine people doing today, though it still does if you think of the new iPhone or iWatch.  Their family had one of the first TVs in Port Macquarie and Nan remembers that after school all her and her siblings’ friends would come over and watch TV for hours.

“At least 20 kids would be in the living room until dinnertime” said Nan, “Then after dinner and the kids were gone the family would gather around and continue TV watching”.

“Who was in charge of the remote?” I asked.

“There is no remote Thomas!”
“You had to get up and turn the switch” Nan laughingly said.

This is a great example of Gen Y person being naive to previous technology. After being rather embarrassed I asked Nan what TV shows she remembers watching. This is quite surprised me. Nan explained that there were a lot of American TV programs. Her favourite shows being the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ and ‘Leave it to Beaver’.  “A lot of traditional family TV shows, which focused on the typical nuclear family. These shows were designed to be uplifting and hold traditional family values which people needed after the War.”

We notice that this was sort of the start of ‘Americanisation’ of Australian Culture, which we are so immersed in now and barely take note.  Nan’s biggest highlight was watching the 1956 Melbourne Olympics on TV. The first time anyone had seen the Olympics onscreen. She laughs at the simplicity of the footage as it would be nothing compared to the coverage of today’s standards but back then it was a big thing.

Nan then describes another of her favourite shows ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show’. She described it as a British sketch show, where the white people would sing and dance while dressed up in blackface.

I nearly choked on my food. “What?!” I said.

“It was one of the most popular shows of the time” Nan replied.“The family would all sit down and all watch the minstrels”

My Mum and I both cringe and reflect on how inappropriate it would have been. However it gave us a good laugh for the rest of the night, and reminded us at how simple and insensitive television audiences were back then.

TV was primitive was back in the 50’s and audiences were only watching television for the first time.