Tag Archives: University

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.

IM2.2

Integrated Media 2.2 ie. the second time I attempt to complete this course. I found it quite enjoyable last year, and only failed because I didn’t actually complete the report. The only thing that’s changed from last year to this is that the report part of the assessment is now also group and not individual.  So I’m not likely to fail again, considering how seriously I take group assessment. Yay!

When I say that it’s the only thing that’s changed, I’m not kidding though. The lecture content and assessment so far are all exactly the same (to the point where the introductory blog post about the lecture still states that the report is individual assessment… copy-paste). It’s okay though, the reason I didn’t complete the report last year is because I got to the end of the semester and realised that it would be very difficult to write a report when I hadn’t been keeping up with the theory all semester. So I made myself retake the course so I could actually learn the things I was supposed to be learning last year.

I realised that I needed something to remind me of that, a motto or a phrase, so that when I find myself tuning out because I’ve heard it before, I can remind myself to tune back in and learn. I noticed that in the job descriptions of SMPs (Social Media Producers) that Seth showed us in the lecture, a lot of them required evidence or proof that you actually know your way around a social media network. So I’m going to think of this course as helping me build some portfolio appropriate content. I’ll work out how to turn that into a motto if I need it later…

I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the event assessment already. I feel like having done this part of the course before is a huge advantage, and won’t bore me because we’ll be planning and executing a different event. It might even be more interesting this time around to make comparisons etc.

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.

On not sticking to the timetable

Oh plans, how I love to make plans. I often don’t stick to them though, and in the heat of the moment, plans that don’t have flexibility will break or crack. Thankfully our plan for the IRL event was super flexible. We allocated one person to be the “MC” so to speak, to run the show, ne person to record audio, one person to record video and still images and the others to help the games and activities run smoothly. We had a timetable planned out:

 

But on the day, we went with an order that made more sense to us. I was the “MC” in charge on the day (a role I always seem to snatch up) so I just went with my gut on what we should do. We started with the pledges, partly as a mini ice-breaker, and mostly so that we wouldn’t forget to do them at the end of the day. After that we went straight into the egg and spoon race, because everyone was a little chilly and we needed to warm up and get a bit sill with each other. We then moved on to the picnic and talking games part of the day, dropping the act and react game completely.

What surprised me about the ice-breakers and word games was how much everyone enjoyed them, even though some of them were super cheesy. We ended up playing three rounds of the spy game (aka the pen and pencil game) and even had suggestions for items from our attendees, it wasn’t all just initiated by us, which I thought was really good.

We also got so carried away by actually participating in the event, that we forgot to ask participants to switch off their phone until the end!

I felt like having the flexibility to alter our timetable in this way made the whole day much more enjoyable. If we’d stuck to the timetable, it would have felt a lot more forced, instead the event flowed quite naturally.

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.

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“.

Hot Chocolate on Soy

I’ve decided to start collating my favourite essays (and other written works) here on my blog. You can find them in the Essay page above. Here’s the first one I added, a creative response to an essay question that I wrote a few years ago.

Hot Chocolate on Soy.

This was a creative response to an essay question that I wrote for an Australian Literature course I was doing in late 2011. I have edited it to be a little longer than the original so that it incorporates some of the elements that make it flow better.

The essay question I was responding to involved looking at one of the fictions we’d studied during the semester and one of the stories/chapters from Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara in relation to this quote by Virginia Woolf: “There is much to support the view that clothes wear us and not we them; … they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.”

We had the option to write a regular essay or craft a more creative response to the topic. I chose to write a short fiction piece that’s a little more than autobiographical. The four characters are all elements of me (and not just the names) and are each wearing an actual outfit that I had indeed worn myself at some point in the 12 months prior to writing this piece.

Read the essay here and let me know your thoughts below.