Tag Archives: Media

Podcast Notes: on Facebook and Personal Reality

My Dad, who has quit Facebook (almost), recently posted a link to a podcast on his Facebook page and it is one of the most interesting podcasts I’ve encountered lately. From the ABC program Conversations came the episode:
Facebook and the last days of reality: futurist Mark Pesce

I listened to the episode while knitting, then a few days later grabbed a notebook and took some sketch notes while I listened again. Here are some of my main takeaways:

  • The Facebook Algorithm  acts as a Cognitive Bias Amplifier because showing us what we want to see keeps us on the platform and the more we use Facebook, the more Facebook knows about us, and has a chance to advertise at us. This has trapped Facebook in a destructive cycle with its users, where users get what they want, not what might be socially good for them. If Facebook tires to change its algorithms to distribute socially necessary information rather than a personalised experience, users will move on to another platform that gives them what they want.
  • Emotional Contagion is spread through Facebook because it is a powerful social network. An example of this is the scientific experiment that Facebook did showing users more positive or negative news stories to find out how it would influence them. There is a related RadioLab podcast about this experiment that goes into more detail about how researchers are able to create experiments on a mass scale now thanks to the data that Facebook collects and talks about the ethics of doing so. The RadioLab podcast The Trust Engineers was published at the beginning of 2015.
  • Facebook has become a Reality Trap; it is now a primary news source for many users, and this is affected by the algorithms that show users what they want to see. In turn, this affects how the media both receives and distributes their messages. The Facebook newsfeed essentially curates a custom reality for each of its users and now communicating across realities has language barriers. According to Mark, this is ruining democracy; “Democracy is a social agreement” and Facebook has become “corrosive of consensus”.
  • Data Sets are everywhere, and being collected and sold by everyone. If you buy a couple of complimentary data sets and line them up, although you won’t have a person’s name and exact date of birth, you will have an incredibly rich profile that will tell you what you need to know about a person, or type of person, in order to effectively advertise (commercially or politically) at them. “We live in a knowledge civilisation now,” says Mark and explains that although it used to be difficult and expensive to weaponize  information, now almost anybody can do it because it has become so cheap.
  • Digital Natives use Facebook differently to Gen Xers (thankfully, I’m in between). Where Gen Xers might rely on Facebook as a main way of accessing the internet, connecting with friends and family, and sharing what’s important to them, Digital Natives take a much more formal approach to the platform. Digital Natives tend to use private sharing systems, sharing with a few people in unobserved ecosystems. They approach Facebook as a formal online space, putting up carefully curated content and using it to engage with older generations who aren’t part of the private ecosystems that Digital Natives favour. They aren’t invested in Facebook emotionally, perhaps intuitively recognising the mess that previous generations have made of the social network, and choosing instead to spend their online time in other environments.

    I personally feel that I’m part of the in-between generation. I didn’t grow up with a smart phone in my hand, but I wasn’t part of the generation that built the web either. Sometimes my generation (Gen Y) gets lumped in with millennials, sometimes we get forgotten. I think generally we are also in-between in terms of our relationship to Facebook. At first we were emotionally invested in the platform, treating it like a grown-up version of MySpace, but in the last few years I’ve seen less and less posts in my newsfeed because we are migrating to other platforms, or posting less on social media generally.  The exception to the rule of course is when Gen Yers start having kids, then I have to unfollow friends to avoid a plague of baby photos in my feed!

There was a lot of information in the podcast that I’m still working on unpacking. The podcast was a result of Mark Pesce writing an article for Meanjin with the same title The Last Days of Reality and I have only skimmed it, but it is on my reading list. Wired also wrote an article this month about the past two years at Facebook and how it’s faced backlash for the proliferation of fake news and curated newsfeeds and has had to navigating coming to terms with the fact that it is both a platform and a publisher. Wired’s article is called Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook—and the World.

I think that all these podcasts and readings are going to link in nicely to my week one reading for COMU2140, another Wired article titled The Web Is Dead. Long Live The Internet which after a quick skim seems to be about how most people access the internet through closed systems like apps rather than through the wide open spaces that occur when using a web browser. The article was written eight years ago but still seems unnervingly relevant.


APA reference:
Ransom-Hughes, M. (Producer), Fidler, R. (Presenter), & Pesce, M. (Guest). (2018, January 30) Facebook and the last days of reality: futurist Mark Pesce [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-mark-pesce/9354558

Narrative in Still Photography

I recently came across this article about narrative in photography that I think has interesting implications for new media makers.

Why is narrative such a difficult concept for young photographers to master?

The author, Grant Scott, speculates that perhaps young adults who are new to photography aren’t very good at creating narratives in their images because the formal school system through which we progress enforces reading like a chore and therefore we tend to reject “all forms of reading and, as a result, of the narrative” (para 2).

Scott goes on to discuss how short form social media (like 140 character tweets and single image Instagram posts) “reduce both attention span and the opportunity to develop complex and nuanced storytelling” (para 5) and although the platforms can be used to create narrative the photographer needs to have a thorough understanding of how narrative can work on those platforms in order to take the fullest advantage of them. He mentions that young photographers often only see their work on back-lit screens and emphasises the importance of printing out a body of work to analyse it physically in order to learn good editing skills and to make connections between images that might be missed if the images were confined only to the screen.

I think it is important to not only develop an understanding of how narrative works, and how you can showcase it through different mediums (photography, audio, video, anything really) but to also develop an understanding of why narrative is important, of why narrative touches humans on such an emotional level where facts and figures can’t always reach. Once you understand why something is important and that we are using it every day in all kinds of situations, you gain a real sense of exactly why you must prioritise being intentional about it within your own work.

How am I going to work on this in my creative endeavours and professional career? I am going to keep narrative in my mind during the creating and editing process. I’m going to seek out ways to learn more about how to incorporate narrative in my work. I am going to deconstruct the work of others to learn from their creations. What are you going to do?


APA reference:
Scott, G. (2016) Why is narrative such a difficult concept for young photographers to master? Retrieved from: https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/why-is-narrative-such-a-difficult-concept-for-young-photographers-to-master-ccef10fb1064

How to Start Your Own Cult in 7 Easy Steps- Response

The following blog post is my response to an article How to Start Your Own Cult in 7 Easy Steps, which was written by Steve Mason for Huffington Post. Due to copyright on the original post, only small excerpts have been included here for context. Excerpts are in italics and 72 out of 839 words were used, less than 10% . To fully understand my responses, please read the whole article, and importantly the seven steps at the bottom of the article.

Here are Steve’s seven steps to start your own cult, and my responses to them in regards to our own cult-like social media campaign and event.

1) Begin by creating your own reality.

We can easily create our own reality (Fuji the wise tells us that bananas are the key to greatness) but we can’t reasonably keep our members away from outsiders. We could impose a self-censorship such as avoiding oranges or pears (any fruit that’s not a banana).

2) Next set the leader and his/her inner circle up as the only link to paradise… only they hold the keys to the kingdom.

Too easy. Fuji is the leader, his word is law. We six are the inner circle, his trusted advisors and the only link members have to the great Fuji himself. Only we can pass on Fuji’s wisdom for a great life. More practically, only we can organise and give the information on how to set the world record that we intend to set.

3) …Make increasing demands.

Increasing demands? Yes! Start small, asking people to submit photos of stuff #withabanana and increase it slowly to include following the manifesto (eg. members must eat bananas for breakfast, members must take a banana on a walk, etc), more than just taking a photo with a banana. Leads up to #7- dangling the carrot, read below.

4) Keep turning out stories about the greatness of the leader.

I imagine we’ll be doing this mostly on the blog, with excerpts and links posting to our other accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Photoshop and creative writing will be our main friends here. We can tell stories of adventures the Fuji went on what what enlightenment he gained from said adventures.

5) Remember to use your converts to bring in still more converts.

This will be key for us, encouraging our followers to share our pages and get us more followers. I think the silliness of our theme will help bring people on board this particular crazy train.

6) Keep everybody busy.

We intend on keeping everybody busy, not with hard labour, but with silly tasks. Taking banana selfies, eating bananas, talking to bananas, sharing our pages, encouraging more fans and followers of Fuji #withabanana. We could incorporate singing, in the form of the ba-na-na-na-na-naaaa song (make your body sing!) but we’d have to be careful of copyright infringement here. We could possibly invent our own song.

7) And finally, keep your flock fixated on the carrot.

The carrot here being Breaking A World Record, not Heaven or an Afterlife. And in a literal sense, only our followers will benefit from breaking this world record, they will literally be the ones doing it and getting the recognition. Speaking of recognition, perhaps we should think about setting up a page on the cult website after the event and list the names of everyone who participated? As a sort of Great Thank-you from Fuji Himself.

On unexpected wins

I think that the best, most successful part of our IRL 2013 event was the picnic and talking games part. Initially, I expected this to be a difficult part to pull off, afraid that participants would find it lame or boring. On the day however, it turned out to be the best part. I think the reason for this was because we had a good size group, only nine people, which turned out to be just about the perfect number for the games we played.

Two truths and a lie would have been a bit too short if there were less people, and way too long if there were many more. This game was also successful because we didn’t know each other very well and it was a silly fun way to get to know some weird facts about each other. One of my favourite three facts came from Chattrin who said

  1. I’m afraid of heights
  2. I love rollercoasters
  3. and I never want to go bungee jumping

we were trying to figure out the lie based on logic, but in the end found out that number 3 was the lie, and he does want to go bungee jumping! I thought this was a very clever combination of facts and also taught us a bit more about Chattrin that just his fear of heights, we also know that his fear doesn’t stop him from doing what he wants. Isn’t that an awesome way to get to know someone new?

The other game we played also went way better than expected. We had originally planned to do only one round of the spy game, but the first round we used more to get the hang of the game and understand the rules, as a group. I was the odd item out for the first game and I had no idea! The second game was run by one of our attendees, Steve, who’d come up with a very good combination- apple juice and apple cider. All the apple juice people thought that the odd one out would be orange juice. I was the odd one out (again!) with the cider and it took me quite a long time to figure that out too! On the third round, the combination was iPhone and iPad. Again, all of us with iPhone thought the odd one out would be Samsung Galaxy or HTC, but this time Pete had the odd one out and pretty much from the start he knew it, so he played a very good strategy to keep it a secret.

 

On switching off

My dad has this question that he rhetorically throws around whenever he’s with company and someone ask a Google question (for example, what’s the third flavour in a B52 shot?). He says “Oh gee, if only one of us had a small computer like device that we could carry around in our pockets that has access to all of the answers in the world…” and then inevitably pulls out his phone and Googles the question.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes phones are great devices that can help out in certain social situations. For example a trivia question argument between two friends, or letting someone know you’re lost or running late.

Sometimes though, phones and friends don’t mix. I’ve heard that some people have a rule when they go out to eat with friends, that everybody places their phone face-down on the end of the table and the first person to pick up their phone to check it, also picks up the entire bill. Not a bad rule, but the fact that it exists surely reflects something about our society.

For our IRL 2013 event, we thought it might be difficult to ask people to actually switch off their phones for an hour and a half. I framed that time by suggestion to the planning team that it’s the same length as a short movie, and most people can go that long without checking their phone (although I know I am guilty of taking a phone call mid-movie, only once and I left the theatre, but still…). We were so worried about having to control the no-mobile-phone rule during the event that we even considered making one person the anti-phone police for the event.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that. In fact, we actually forgot to get everyone to turn their phones off at the beginning of the event! The switching phones off video that you can see here is totally staged. It happened right at the end of the event, and if you look closely, you can even tell that some of the phones weren’t actually turned off, just the screens switched to blank!

What I thought was amazing was that even though we all had out phones in our bags or pockets, not one person even peeked at their screen during the event. Nobody was tempted to check what was happening online because we were all too busy enjoy ourselves in the moment.

I think it helped that we didn’t all know each other too well. It’s easy to be rude in front of friend you know well, as you’d expect their forgiveness and even their understanding. With strangers you don’t know what to expect. I also think it helped that we had a lot of activities planned, and there was no down-time where people were wandering around wondering what to do. Boredom very quickly leads to checking your phone, seeing if maybe there’s something better happening somewhere else.

Reading Notes: “Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681309001232

– Social Media is on the rise

– Firms have less control over what information customers can access

– The event of Social Media is sort of an evolution back to the original point of the Internet: to share information between users (but it’s more than that, and it’s different from Web 2.0 and User Generated Content (UGC)).

– Focus on six types:

  1. Collaborative Projects
  2. Blogs
  3. Content Communities
  4. Social Networking Sites
  5. Virtual Game Worlds
  6. Virtual Social Worlds

So these categories are making me think about Social Media in a way I haven’t considered before.  I’m thinking about how useful it is to divide Social Media into categories. I’m thinking about the six categories above and wondering about the ones I don’t recognise (1, 3, 6) and also thinking about the differences between the ones I do (2, 4, 5).

– Defining Web 2.0 as a place where collaboration became more common/valued than publication. For Web 2.0 to exist it needed:

  1. Adobe Flash
  2. RSS
  3. Ajax (asynchronous Java Script)

– Kaplan and Haenlein consider “Web 2.0 as the platform for the evolution of Social Media” (2010, p. 61).

– Three things are required for content to be considered UGC:

  1. Posted publicly (or to a select group) – so not IM or email
  2. Have creative effort- so not reproductions of other work
  3. Be created outside professional practice – so not created for an audience from a business POV.

– “Social Media is a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technical foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (2010, p. 61).

At this point in the reading, I finally noticed that the references in this article were also hyperlinks. I was slightly disappointed to find that they only linked to the bibliography at the bottom of the article, but I think it’s a good idea to use in my report at the end of semester.

– Idea of Media Richness Theory is that the goal of communication is to resolve ambiguity and reduce uncertainty. More info: Daft and Lengle

Table 1

I’m not sure I agree with the table 100% but possibly because I don’t understand the Social Presence/Media Richness category. Will read the Daft and Lengle article at a later date to see if this helps my understanding.

I started skimming the rest of the article at this point (probably something I should have done before I began reading it) and came across a point later in the article that made me want to check the publication date of this article (also something I should have noted at the start). It’s an important thing to keep in mind, especially when reading articles about technology.

– Collaborative Projects

  • “democratic manifestation of UGC” (2010, p. 62).
  • eg. Wikis, bookmarking services like Delicious, Urban Dictionary
  • the idea behind it is that joint effort produces better results than a solo effort
  • can harm firms: the customer feedback cycle
  • can benefit firms: keep track of/in touch with employees

– Blogs

  • “The Social Media equivalent of personal web pages” (2010, p. 63)
  • usually managed by one person, interaction=comments
  • can be good or bad for firms, obviously?!

– Content Communities

  • eg YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare
  • risk of sharing copyright material
  • but reward of reaching potential customers through customer interactions or sharing recruitment videos/ keynote speeches/ press releases etc.

– Social Networking Sites

  • eg FaceBook, MySpace
  • firms can use SNS to promote themselves and reach customers

– Virtual Game Worlds

  • “Virtual Worlds are probably the ultimate manifestation of Social Media  as they provide the highest level of social presence and media richness of all the applications discussed thus far” (2010, p. 64).
  • eg WOW, Runescape (personal eg), X-box and PlayStation online games
  • not too much interest for firms except in collaborative advertising maybe

– Virtual Social Worlds

  • eg. Second Life
  • lots of opportunities for firms to become part of the VSWs and market to the “residents”

I skimmed the rest of the article “Five points about using media” and “Five points about being social” because I know this information already, as I often read it on creative/entrepreneurial blogs about online presence and branding.

Overall an interesting article to start my semester on, and I’ll be looking further into the Media Richness Theory before too long.

Jolts Per Minute

Here is an interesting article about the effects Facebook has on your brain. It’s long, but there’s information about addiction, industrial media models that trickled into Facebook and the rest of the internet, and what you can do about it (if you’re worried).

As future current media makers, we have to be aware of the audience we are catering to and not only how they will engage with our work (their attention span) but also how they will feel about the environment we provide for them to engage with our work in.

Also, the comment thread has some thoughtful feedback and counterpoints to the article and is also worth perusing.

Holiday Blogging

Hey! Heeeeeey! HEY! Are you still there? Or have you migrated for the holidays also? My student feed has died off in the last few days, everybody is breathing a sigh of relief. No more blogging until next semester now, right? Wrong.

Why? Well why not?

Why not keep blogging over the break? Why not see what connections we can make between real life and what we’re learning in this degree? Why not keep up with the creative practices we’ve learnt this semester?

One creative practice I want to keep up over the holidays is that of the sketch tasks. I really enjoyed creating the sketch videos for Integrated Media 1 and I wanted to keep doing them through the semester and instead got bogged down with course work and I didn’t make time to fit in any kind of sketch work. Now that I’ve got a bit more time up my sleeve, I want to start making sketch videos again.

So I’m going to take a bit of inspiration from IM1 and a bit of inspiration from Fat Mum Slim who runs a very popular photo-a-day challenge through her blog and across different social media platforms (more here).

However, I think a video a day over the holidays is a bit too much, so I’m going to run with a different format of three videos a week. You can shoot and upload them whenever you want, all in one go or spread out across the week. I’m going to be uploading mine to Vimeo and cross-posting to Twitter and my blog. You can join in by uploading to Vimeo, Vine or Youtube and posting on Twitter with the hashtag #SketchTask. I’ll be doing a round-up post on here at the end of every week with some of the videos that I really liked, so make sure to tag your sketch tasks so that I don’t miss them!

So the aim of this game is to take the prompt and use it to create a video. You can be as literal or metaphorical as you like, but I’m going to highly encourage creative thinking outside the box. For example, instead of filming something to represent “odour” in week one, why not try and film like odour? How would odour see things? Another thing that’s highly encouraged is pushing yourself and your boundaries. If you’ve never tried a particular technique or method before, use these sketch videos to give it a go! Then, reflect on how it went.

Here are the prompts for the next few weeks over the holidays:

Week 1: 10-16 June

1. Odour
2. Purple
3. A tiny detail

Week 2: 17-23 June

1. Light
2. Hands
3. Something beginning with Q

Week 3: 24-30 June

1. Poetry
2. In the middle
3. The sky

Week 4: 1-7 July

1. Evening
2. Still life
3. Loud

Week 5: 8-14 July

1. Mail
2. Man made
3. Freedom

Week 6: 15-21 July

1. Looking back
2. The big picture
3. Nothingness

Semester two starts on Monday 22 July and if this challenge gets enough of a response and you guys want to continue through the semester, I’ll pop a new list up for those weeks too.

Six weeks of filming more sketch tasks to keep my creative muscles strong… will you join me?

Porous, Granular, Faceted

The three most important things in relation to networks. And networks are more important that the digital. The digital revolution is over, remember?

Porous

Permeable. Open internally (i.e. smaller bits that can make sense on their own) and externally (i.e. those smaller bits can link to other work outside itself).

A blog is porous. The internal openness comes from the individual posts that make sense on their own without the context of the whole blog, and can be linked to each other in different ways. The external openness comes from the track-backs, ping-backs and external links; the architecture of links that surrounds a blog and connects the blogosphere.

Granular

Smallest unit of closure (not necessarily narrative).

Single shots from a movie are granular (unless you can’t tell what it is). A blog post on it’s own is granular (although deeper than this, a paragraph of a blog post may be granular, as might a single, powerful sentence). A product on Amazon is granular (and porous as it can be added to a wishlist or embedded in a message).

Faceted

Like diamonds. Lots of faces where a face is a way to connect to another part.

Some facets matter, and some don’t. Like we talked about what things will be noticed and what things won’t be back in week 10 with the sugar and the water. The sugar won’t be noticing how wet the water is, because that facet doesn’t affect it. The water won’t be noticing how sweet the sugar is, because that facet doesn’t matter. What matters to the sugar is how warm the water is, how saturated it is and how much velocity it has. What matters to the water is how big the sugar granules are.

If sugar and water could talk…

Lecture Notes- IM 1 Week 12

The final week. The summary (?). The end of the road to which we held no map.

Well, not really. Integrated Media One (Won) is not really the kind of subject that has an ending and only in retrospect can I say what we travelled along was a road of any kind. We meandered through a thick web of information, theories and practice only to find at the end we’d been searching for something that doesn’t need to exist (closure). We can trace the path backwards, but it won’t shed the light on the way forward.

Future.

The future is shaped like this:

photo 1 (1)

Which basically means that I can be fairly sure of where I’ll be in one hour from now (still in front of this laptop, but working on an essay instead of a blog). It means I can be pretty sure of where I’ll be in one week from now, less sure of where I’ll be in one year from now etcetera and by the time we get as far out as five or ten years into the future, the possibilities are so wide it can be very difficult to know which point we will be standing at.

It’s sort of like a Korsakow film. When the film begins, the viewer knows they are at the “start SNU” (if one has been set I suppose), but as the film progresses, the choices for how it ends become wider and wider depending on the path they take. And that ‘path’ will change for each view or viewer. Old media is similar, a cinematic film for example has all these options, but the options are only available to the editor who then chooses which ‘path’ they want to give the audience who have no choice in the path they take.

k future

The digital revolution’s already happened. Its not about the digital any more, its about the network. We have to stop thinking in terms of ‘audience’ and start thinking instead of ‘communities of users’ who will interact with out work (whatever that work may be five years from now).

Adrian urges us to do things differently, in a way that makes a difference. “You create the industry,” he threatens (and promises). What a magnificent way to end the semester that began with “do cool things“.