The Life of a Girl with a Mobile Phone

A few months ago, I uploaded a blog proposing an idea for a digital research task that I planned to conduct. It comes with great pleasure (and so much god damn relief) to have completed my project after a long month of work.

This short video (or digital narrative if you will) focuses on a university student by the name of Chloe that I studied using ethnographic research. The animated instaclip explores how Chloe interacts with her mobile device when studying, and how mobile phones, social media apps and other devices become distractions when completing work. Through observations and interviews, I gained valuable qualitative data that left me with a greater understanding of how students behave when mobile devices are present in study spaces.

The story-telling video focuses on media audience practices and is told from perspective of Chloe. It explores the elements of media, audience and place and the ways in which media practices and audience experiences are spatial in nature.

Media: Mobile phones
Audience: University students
Place: Study spaces

The first part of this video is an animated representation of Chloe in an average day of study. Towards the end of the video the results from the ethnographic research are shown, revealing the patterns in Chloe’s mobile usage habits when studying.

Explore the life of Chloe, as she shows you a day in the life of a university student. The short, animated video focuses on how Chloe interacts with her mobile phone when she is really meant to be studying. Will procrastination get the better of her? Watch and find out!

I hope you enjoy the video. Don’t forget to leave a comment below on how you use your mobile phone when studying (or perhaps you’re a good student and don’t use it at all).

Until next time,
Sophie.

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Will I Die if I Don’t Use my Phone for 5 Minutes?

There aren’t many places these days where people aren’t allowed to use their phones (maybe church is an exception). But the use of mobile phones has just become a part of everyday life.

Waiting to walk across the road at the traffic lights? Why not check your phone.

Standing in line at the bank? Why not check your phone.

Waiting for the train to arrive? Once again, this seems like a pretty appropriate time to check your phone.

So this is exactly what I did when waiting at the doctors surgery last week. I sat down in the waiting area, glanced over at the pile of ridiculously outdated magazines placed on the table next to me, then proceeded to unlock my phone and scroll through Facebook. It wasn’t until a lady walking past caught my attention that I looked up and saw the sign pinned to the wall behind her. “Please refrain from using mobile devices in this area”. The picture of a mobile phone with a red cross through it right in front of my face. This form of media regulation started to worry me.

I immediately felt self-conscious and looked around me at the other people in the waiting room. A mum trying to settle her two young children. An elderly man watching the news on the waiting room TV. Another woman in her mid 30’s, reading an article on balcony gardening. No one else was on their phones. Was I just one of those stereotypical ‘young people’, constantly glued to my phone and ignoring the rules?

As I placed my phone back into my handbag and grabbed a magazine from 2004, I started to think why the use of phones would be banned in a doctors waiting room. I can understand how someone talking on the phone would be quite irritating, but why should I be banned from checking my Instagram whilst waiting for an appointment?

A frantic google search when I got home answered a few of my concerns:

  1. Current phones cause very little interference with medical equipment. Modern medical equipment is shielded so that phone interference does not affect the machines (Hammond 2013). Considering there is very little equipment of such in a doctor’s surgery, this is evidently not reason as to why phone use is banned.
  2. Taking photographs in a doctor’s surgery is a big no-no. According to the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Cellular Telephone and Other Wireless Communication Device Use Policy, taking photographs of of patients for non-clinical purposes is strictly prohibited (UNC School of Medicine 2016).
  3. Phone calls are another no-no in waiting rooms. Not only is it extremely annoying when someone decides to have a personal conversation at the top of their voice in a quiet space, but if the doctor is on a strict time schedule. If they have to wait for a patient just to finish their conversation about what casserole to have for dinner, it puts all of their appointments behind for the rest of the day.

My research still didn’t answer the question I had about not being able to play angry birds in the waiting room. Until I stumbled across an article on The Huffington Post site. According to Lisa Mirza Grotts (2014), phone use in the doctors surgery all comes down to etiquette. Mobile phone use is not necessarily restricted in waiting rooms, but not being halfway through updating your Facebook status when the doctor is calling your name is just common courtesy.

This type of media regulation purely exists to speed up the process of doctor-patient interactions and to reduce waiting times. Not because the world thinks young people are addicted to social media (not a proven fact, may still be true). But let’s face it, I probably can survive if I don’t check my phone for 20 minutes whilst waiting for a doctor to diagnose my sickness.

Until next time,
Sophie.

References:

Grotts, L. M. 2014, Doctor’s Office Etiquette: While You Wait, The Huffington Post, viewed 23 September 2016, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-mirza-grotts/doctors-office-etiquette_b_5102426.html&gt;.

Hammond, C 2013, Are Mobile Phones Dangerous in Hospitals?, BBC, viewed 23 September 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130513-can-you-use-phones-in-hospitals&gt;.

UNC School of Medicine 2016, October Information Security and Privacy Tip of the Month, University of North Carolina, viewed 23 September 2016, <https://www.med.unc.edu/&gt;.

 

 

 

Putting It To The Test

“Young people are always on their phones!” says every middle aged person ever, “They can’t even go five minutes without checking Facebook.”

In a recent study done by me (yes, I’m an expert) I found that there may be more truth to this statement than I had previously thought. I completely deny the statement every time I hear it, claiming I can survive perfectly fine with not checking a message or ignoring a notification. But that may not be the case for everyone.

Last week I took it upon myself to set up a small informal test to see what happens to someone’s attention in the presence of multiple media devices. At first I had a lot of difficulty deciding on how to actually conduct the test as all of my ideas were far too complicated to implement. Eventually I decided on something simple, yet effective, that would give me an indication of how individuals perform in the presence of both study material and mobile devices.

What: A texting test
Who: Me (conducting the test) and Chloe, a classmate (the subject in the experiment)
Why: To see how an individual responds in the presence of multiple media devices
How: By sending Facebook messages to Chloe whilst she is studying  to see how her attention changes

I chose to conduct the test one afternoon whilst studying in the University library with a classmate. Chloe was unaware that I was conducting the test, and this ensured that all her responses were genuine. We sat down in the quiet study area of the library in separate booths, which worked perfectly for the purpose of my experiment.

I saw my Chloe open a textbook, a word document, and an internet tab. Straight onto Facebook. She quickly checked messenger on her iPhone then placed it next to her laptop and began typing away at her study notes. I told her I was going to print off my own study notes and made my way over to the printers. This is when the test began. I sent a Facebook message to Chloe asking a general question about printing (so as to not make it seem so suss). Instantly the message came up as ‘seen’ and three dots appeared indicating Chloe was typing back to me. I waited a minute before replying and received a message back instantly. Again, I waited a few minutes before sending a message back to my classmate. Sure enough I received another reply within seconds (so much for studying, Chloe). This indicated to me that when in the presence of multiple media devices, the attention of my subject was diverted away from study as soon as social media became active. It also indicated that Facebook was a major distraction for Chloe.

Upon collecting my study notes and making my way back my to my study nook, I sat back down next to Chloe. I decided to give the experiment one more crack. This time instead of messaging Chloe, I decided to tag her in something on Facebook. Since my classmate was ‘busy studying’, I was under the assumption that the notification would not capture her attention. I found a funny post on Facebook and tagged Chloe in the comments. Not even a minute later I heard laughter to my left. Chloe had seen the post. A notification on my own Facebook indicated she had liked the post, a definite conformation that she had looked at the photo.

Overall, the results from my small test showed that when exposed to multiple media devices, the attention of a student studying is quickly diverted when other platforms become active. When exposed to a social media such as Facebook, Chloe’s attention was immediately turned away from studying.

So perhaps the middle aged people were right, maybe we really can’t go 5 minutes without checking Facebook.

Until next time,
Sophie.

 

Big Brain of Ideas

I always wonder how other people study. Do they scroll through Facebook with a textbook open near by like I do? Do they blast a ‘study motivation’ Spotify playlist in the background? Or do people actually disconnect themselves from the online world for a while. Is it even possible to study without checking your social media every 10 minutes?

These questions form the basis of my chosen topic for my digital narrative research project.

“How do students engage with personal mobile devices when studying?”

To provide me with a greater understanding of what a digital narrative is, I did some background reading. According to Chase (2016), a digital narrative combines photos, videos, sounds, music, animation, text and a narrative voice to create a story. A digital narrative does not necessarily need to include all of these things, although telling a story using multimedia is the core idea (Robin 2016).

In terms of my project proposal, I intend on engaging in ethnographic research to obtain my data. I aim to look into the study habits of students at university and the interaction they have with their mobile devices. I intend on collecting qualitative data that provides me with an insight into their social media habits, attention spans, tendency to check their phone whilst studying, and the duration of the study period.

study-is-an-art_o_4504413

I will be selecting a small pool of participants from my BCM240 class to take part in my research project. I aim of focusing my study on 10 students in total. I will be tracking the study habits of these students over a two week period and gathering qualitative  data via interviews, surveys and observations.

As the project is a digital narrative I will be creating a video that focuses on selected participants in their studying environment and how they interact with mobile devices and social media apps. The aim of the video is to capture students acting as they normally would when studying to determine how frequently attention is diverted and how often mobile devices are used. I will be including this video on my final project blog as well as other data I collect from the surveys, interviews and observations.

Engaging in this project will allow me to gain an understanding of how media practices and audience experiences are spatial in nature. It will provide me with an insight into a topic that is of great interest to me and generate a storytelling project that looks at media audience practice from the perspective of other students.

I intend on posting regular updates on how my project is progressing as well as commenting on any issues I may encounter and any changes I intend on making along the way. I still aim to provide the results of my findings even if my research project does not go to plan. Overall it will be a learning experience for me and provide me with a greater understanding of media practices and the experiences of the audience participating.

Until next time,
Sophie.

References:

Chase, D 2016, Digital Composition, Storytelling & Multimodal Literacy: What Is Digital Composition & Digital Literacy?, Stony Brook University Libraries, viewed 13 September 2016, <http://guides.library.stonybrook.edu/digital-storytelling&gt;.

Robin, B 2016, About Digital Storytelling, University of Houston, viewed 13 September 2016, <http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/page.cfm?id=27&gt;.

Phone Etiquette in Public

This week’s task in BCM240 was to take a photo of somebody using a mobile device in public. To be honest, I hadn’t really given the task much thought until I had my photo taken whilst eating lunch with a friend. My friend took the photo of me whilst I was looking down at my phone, completely unaware of the fact that it had happened. He then proceeded to post the photo of his Snapchat story, without my knowledge. He hadn’t mentioned he’d taken a photo of me until after the photo was posted, without me even seeing it, or allowing him to use it.

The first thing on my mind was that I had not given my friend permission to take that photo, but more importantly, why were we both on our phones whilst having lunch together?

yeah

I definitely did not ask for this. Attractive though, right?

The way we use public space has dramatically changed over the years, particularly due to the introduction of personal mobile devices. Public space is a place where we can also make use of our mobile devices to dive into our own private spaces, without needing to share that experience with the people around us. We can be active in both public and private spaces simultaneously by just opening up a social media app on our phones.

According to Habermas et al. (1989), the public sphere is a space where individuals can come together to openly discuss public opinions (Soules 2016). The private sphere on the other hand is one’s personal domain that is separate from the rest of the public eye (Habermas et al. 1989). Smart phones allow consumers to switch between these two spheres, without needing to alter their surroundings. It provides people with a shift between a virtual and physical world within a matter of milliseconds. And perhaps this notion of simplicity and ease of access to personal devices is the reason why both my friend and I were on our phones during lunch.

Whilst the photo that was taken of me allowed to to think about public and private media practice, I still did not allow my friend to take the photo in the first place. There are a few clear ethical barriers that had been crossed during this sneaky photo shoot. Firstly my friend did not ask for my permission to take the photo of me in the first place. Whilst it is perfectly legal to photograph somebody in a public place, it doesn’t mean it is ethical, and gaining consent before taking a photograph is a simple ethical guideline that is to be followed (Colberg 2013). Secondly, I did not give my permission for this photo to be posted in social media, which is my opinion is an even bigger no-no. Again, there are no laws that stop someone from taking a photo of you and uploading it online (LawStuff 2015). Speaking ethically, permission should be granted before doing so. However due to the introduction of smart phones and their constant in public spaces, this kind of this happens more often than not.

So the moral of this recount is, whilst it is perfectly fine to use your personal devices in a public space, always check with your friends before uploading hideous photos of them to your Snapchat story.

Until next time,
Sophie.

References:

Colberg, J 2013, The Ethics of Street Photography, Conscientious Extended, viewed 2 September 2016, <http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/&gt;.

Habermas, J, Burger, T & Lawrence, F 1989, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, MIT Press, Massachusetts.

LawStuff 2015, Privacy (Online), LawStuff Australia, viewed 2 September 2016, <http://www.lawstuff.org.au/wa_law/topics/privacy#cst&gt;.

Soules, M 2016, Jurgen Habermas and the Public Sphere, Media-Studies.ca, viewed 2 September 2016, <http://www.media-studies.ca/articles/habermas.htm&gt;.

Movie Madness

Have you ever been to the movies and it has just been an absolute disaster and complete waste of your money? Well I for one have definitely been in this boat.

Cast your minds back to the year of 2005. At this stage I was just 10 years old and practically still the same height. It was my friends birthday and we decided to go and see a movie at the good old Montreal Theatre in my hometown of Tumut. Now when I say theater, I mean old wooden floors, wooden seats with leather black leather cushions (half of them being broken and unable to be sat on), a large stage at the front, and a roll down projector screen for the occasional movie that was shown – usually 6 months after it had come out on DVD. There was no such thing as a candy bar at the Montreal Theatre, nor was there a ticket counter. Instead there was a lady standing at the door who would put a smiley face stamp on the back of your hand after you gave her the $7.

As it was Angie’s 10th birthday, her mother took us both to the theater to see the Spongebob Squarepants movie. As Tumut was far behind the times, I had already seen the film, and owned it on DVD. Despite that I agreed to tag along anyway for Angie’s special day.

Angie chose the seats and decided to sit at the very front of the theatre. Big mistake! Firstly, no one ever sits at the front. Every frequent cinema go-er knows that the very front is possibly the worst seats in the entire room, and leaves you with a very painful neck and cramps down to the end of your spine. Secondly, the 1.5 metre tall stage was located directly in front of these seats and subsequently blocked half of the movie screen from our view.

montreal

The view from the second floor of the Montreal Theatre. Source

Montreal1

Taken in 2015, this photo emphasises the “behind the times” feeling the theatre           Source

The movie started and the room was filled with chatter. As the Montreal Theatre wasn’t a ‘real’ cinema, no one followed the basic movie etiquette of not speaking and not using mobile phones.  The constant talking and buzzing of phones didn’t help with the fact the movie volume was strangely low, and almost impossible to hear.

I vividly remember a certain part of the movie, where Spongebob and Patrick were riding in a car along a road covered in skulls. It was during this scene that the movie stopped playing, the image disappeared from the projector screen, and the only sound left in the room was the confused murmurs of the audience. The crowd became angry, and people began to yell abuse at the projectionist and throw lollies and drinks around the theatre. People began to stand up and leave, yelling in frustration and exclaiming they has wasted their money.

Angie’s mum ensured us it would be fine, so we sat patiently like the well-behaved 10-year-olds we were, and waited for the issue to be resolved. It was a good 10 minutes before the movie began to play again, and a collective cheer from the audience signified the resolution of the problem. The chatter still continued once again making it difficult to hear the movie. For someone who hadn’t seen the movie before, this would be an absolute nightmare.

My memory about cinema attendance made me reflect on Hagerstrand’s three constraints of capability, coupling and authority.

Capability: Being of such a young age, Angie and I obviously weren’t able to make our own way to the cinema (nor were we allowed to go there by ourselves). This constraint meant that it was up to Angie’s mum to drive us to the cinema in her car, Angie and I sitting in the back eager to see the movie.

Coupling: Being the only cinema in Tumut, the Montreal Theatre was the choice we made to make. Considering the movie was only showing at one time during the day, it was even more important that arrived on time. This constraint made it difficult to see the film if other commitments stood in the way. It also meant that some of Angie’s other friends were unable to make it.

Authority: As Angie and I were only 10-years-old at the time, her mum accompanied us to the movie as we were to young to be left un-supervised. Our age also meant that we did not have money to pay for ourselves, meaning Angie’s mum had to pay for our tickets. Not that I complained about that.

It is not until now that the constraints associated with attending the cinema have become so apparent to me. These days it is far easier to just log into Netflix and watch a movie in the comfort of your own home. But as a young 10-year-old, going to the movies was an experience that you couldn’t get anywhere else. I still believe that to this day. Despite the constraints associated with screening times, cinema locations and movie selections, going to the cinema is an experience that isn’t comparable to something like watching Netflix in your lounge room. Aside from the (often really frustrating) constraints, going to the cinema is an adventure I will always say yes to.

Until next time,
Sophie

Collaborative Entho-what?

Collaborative ethnography. What a mouth full right!? But what exactly does that term mean?

Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures and their customs, habits and differences (American Ethnography Quasimonthly, 2010). According to Lassiter (2005), collaborative ethnography refers to practicing ethnography together, in an intellectual manner. The research method of ethnography yields qualitative results, through practices such as interviews, conversations, story telling, surveys and participant observation (Hoey, 2013).

virtual-ethnography

Participant observation is just one method of ethnography              Source

Quite recently I engaged in collaborative ethnography myself, whilst conversing with fellow BCM240 students about our parents’ experiences with television. Talking to my classmates revealed masses of information about the people in their lives, their experiences, and the impact of different cultures on their upbringing and television watching habits. The conversations allowed me make note of the similarities and differences to what Mary* had told me about her experience with television in the 1970’s.

Ben’s story about his mother contained similar themes as Mary’s story in that both grew up in an era where television was initially black and white. Both Mary and Ben’s mother remember when colour television was introduced and the entire family would sit together in the living room in astonishment. The television shows that each family watched were another similarity. Ben’s mother recalls watching Countdown with her family on a Sunday night, just like Mary’s family. Both families were made to watch whatever the parents chose as well, with the children not being granted permission to change the channels.

When talking to Danielle, I came across more similarities to the experience Mary had growing up with television. Both families did not own a remote control for their televisions and were to change the channels and volume with dials on the side of the TV. There was only 1 TV in the house and each family would sit down and watch shows together. Generally the children would sit or lay on the floor in front of the television.

Engaging in these conversations revealed the value of collaborative ethnography. Ethnography draws on information that can not be researched on the internet or looked up in a book. The quantitative data that ethnography aims to collect is based on experiences, stories and the personal customs of different people and different cultures. However, I did come across some obstacles with using ethnography as a research method, the major one being memory. As people grow older, memories can become distorted and information can be forgotten or altered. This causes problems in the sense of reliability as data may not be accurate.

Regardless, collaborative ethnography is an effective method of research, allowing information to be shared between people, exchanging stories, memories and experiences. Collaborative ethnography is definitely something I will be continuing to use in the future.

Until next time,
Sophie.

References:

American Ethnography Quasimonthly 2010, What is Ethnography?, American Ethnography, viewed 18 August 2016, <http://www.americanethnography.com/ethnography.php&gt;.

Hoey, B 2013, What is Ethnography?, Brian A Hoey PHD, viewed 18 August 2016, <http://www.brianhoey.com/General%20Site/general_defn-ethnography.htm&gt;.

Lassiter, L 2005, Defining a Collaborative Ethnography, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, viewed 18 August 2016, <http://press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html&gt;.