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;.

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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.

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

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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;.

 

 

Non-existent Network

To a 21 year-old full-time uni student, the internet is everything. I use the internet for homework, for assessments, for work, and for my social life. Everything I do is based around the internet in some way. If I want to catch up on my favourite TV show, I turn to the internet. If I want to go clothes shopping, I turn to the internet. If I want to check the weather, (sadly) I turn to the internet. And to be honest, I really could not imagine what life would be like without 24/7 unlimited NBN.

But not everyone is in the same boat as me.

After speaking to Mary* a few weeks ago about her experience with television, I decided to go back and ask her a few questions about the internet in her current household.

Long story short, Mary thinks the internet in her house totally sucks.

The household doesn’t have a phone line, so the family has to rely on prepaid wireless broadband that allows 5 devices to connect to it at one time. But this rarely happens… “It hardly ever connects to the internet for starters. It’s pointless even paying for the damn thing!”, exclaimed Mary.

internet-graphic

With the signal constantly dropping out, Mary’s family generally rely on their phone internet rather than connecting to wifi. On the rare occasion that the wifi actually works, the internet is slow and takes far too long to load pages . As a result Mary uses hotspot from her iPhone so she can use her laptop for work and personal use. *Cough* endless internet shopping *cough*.

Even though Mary’s family lives right in town, the area is still unable to get NBN, despite the surrounding areas being able to get a connection. In New South Wales, there are currently 930,740 homes who are able to connect (or have already connected) to the NBN (nbn, 2016a). As part of the three-year construction plan, most homes around Australia are expected to be able to connect to the NBN network by September 2018 (nbn, 2016b). Mary is crossing her fingers that it comes to her home earlier, however the website is unable to give her an expected date. Until then, unreliable prepaid mobile broadband it is!

Despite having the internet, Mary’s TV watching habits haven’t changed at all. The television is still used far more than the internet is. Mary owns a smart TV where the television can be connected to the internet, however since the wifi connection at the family’s home is so poor, the smart TV has never been set up. Mary explained that she would most likely use the internet more if she had a stable connection, however for the meantime it doesn’t bother her because the 3G network on her phone is all she needs.

“We are pretty simple people really, we don’t need fancy internet or smart TV’s at the moment. We are happy the way we are”, explained Mary.

So there you go, maybe the internet really isn’t everything.

Until next time,
Sophie.

*Not a real name.

References

nbn 2016a, What is the nbn network?, nbn co ltd., viewed 18 August 2016, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn.html&gt;.

nbn 2016b, Three-year construction plan, nbn co ltd., viewed 18 August 2016, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/three-year-construction-plan.html&gt;.

 

Channel Surfing

“The TV is the same size as your microwave.”

“There are only two channels.”

“The picture is in black and white.”

“And the channels turn off at midnight every night and don’t come back on until 6am the next morning.”

Sound like a nightmare? Well it’s actually just television in the 70’s. Crazy right!? No flat screens, no digital television, no smart TV’s that know you by name and automatically record all of your favourite shows as soon as you step foot out of the room.

For the purpose of this blog I undertook an interview with a lady named Mary* to discover a little more about television in the 1970’s. Mary was just a child during this time and was living at home with her parents and younger brother. Television during Mary’s childhood was very different to what I grew up with and the answers I received surprised me quite a lot. It’s hard to imagine television channels turning off at midnight. All I have ever known is 2am infomercials and 4.30am aerobics. But the 70’s was a different era and after the national anthem played every night at 12, the channels would switch off and the test pattern symbol would appear until early the next morning.

After speaking with Mary, I picture the televisions of the 70’s to be big, bulky and brown. Mary described it as a large, square, wooden box with dials on the side to change the channels and volume. Yes, that’s right, people actually had to leave the lounge to change the channel back in those days. According to Jacobs (2013), television remotes were invented in the 1970s but were originally attached to the TV with a cord. However this was something Mary’s family did not have. The family only had 1 television in the house which was located in the lounge room. The television was the centrepiece of the room with the brown, fabric lounges facing towards it. The family would sit down together and watch TV of a night (with the parents always choosing the program of course). For Mary and her younger brother, watching TV whilst eating dinner was a big no-no, and choosing to watch TV before completing homework was an even bigger no-no.

TV

Yes, TVs really looked like this in the 1970s Source

“What are we going to watch tonight family? Take your pick of ABC or RVN, the only two channels that exist.”

Yes, you heard me, a huge selection of two channels with a black and white picture. The 1970s marked the era where colour television was introduced (Australian Government, 2007). However many families (like Mary’s) stuck to black and white due to the heavy cost of buying a new TV. But to Mary and her family, just having any kind of television was a luxury. It was even more of a luxury when Mary received her very own TV at the age of 16. A “small, round, white bubble” that all the cool kids on the block wanted (Mary informed me she was most definitely the coolest of all the kids).

As the conversation continued, Mary told me a story about the time she won a prize by entering a competition on one of her favourite television shows Contest Corner. The television show held a competition where entrants had to design their own Mother’s Day card. Mary’s unique design with pressed flowers on the front won her a heavy metal record. “The title of the record was ‘Heavy’, they really thought long and hard about that one!”, she exclaimed. Mary informed me that this was one of her most memorable (and most exciting) moments of watching television and something she will never forget (unfortunately she no longer has the heavy metal record).

Being able to reflect on these memories was a special moment for Mary as watching television with her family was seen as a bonding time. It was a common practice for the family to sit down together on a Sunday night and watch the classic music show Countdown, that was introduced to television in the early 70s (Televsion.au, 2016). Watching TV was a time of relaxation, where the family could unwind from the days activities and enjoy each others company.

Television has come so far over the decades with astonishing advancements in technology. But it was definitely great to travel back in time for a while and reflect on someone else’s experience. Especially when it is so different to my own.

On a side note: Mary actually has a 50 inch plasma in her lounge room now, don’t panic everyone. It even came with a remote!

Until next time,
Sophie

*not a real name (for privacy reasons of course).

References:

Australian Government 2007, Popular Australian Television, Australian Government, viewed 6 August 2016, <http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/popular-austn-television&gt;.

Jacobs, C 2013, A household history of the television, Realestate.com, viewed 6 August 2016, <http://www.realestate.com.au/news/a-household-history-of-the-television/&gt;.

Television.au 2016, 1970 – 1979, Television.au, viewed 6 August 2016, <http://televisionau.com/timeline/1970-1979&gt;.

Hello world, this is me

I’m like hey, what’s up, hello. My name is Sophie Angus and welcome to the show. I’m ’bout to write a story introducing me to ya’ll. Welcome to my blog ’cause you’re about to read it all.

Anddddd I’m not some kind of lyrical-genius-rap-god so that’s where my Fetty Wap parody ends.

Let me tell you a story about the time I went to space. Now before you get too excited, I’m referring to media space, not ‘astronaut’ space. As Massey defines it, media space is “not a fixed or material container for things, people or time”. Media space is a more abstract concept, like a virtual world. Let’s face it, it’s really not hard to be a part of that these days.

I honestly feel like I’m in (media) space for about 72% of my day. Every day my morning ritual consists of opening my eyes, reaching for my phone (sometimes before even opening my eyes), and checking Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and all those other apps that people have these days… *cough* tinder *cough*.

Woman-in-Bed-on-Phone-634x422

Accurate representation of me every morning

 

I then eat breakfast, and check my social media.

Get on the bus to uni, and check my social media.

Wait for my class to start, and check my social media.

During class, I check my social media, *takes a selfie*, *uploads it to twitter*, *continues to check social media*.

Being present in a media space has become part of the norm these days and I have to say my presence is pretty strong, much like every other human being I know between the ages of 12 and 35. Do I think it’s a bad thing? Not at all. Media spaces allow us to become vastly connected to the rest of the world in a way we never have before. Perhaps there are some places where it is unnecessary to be scrolling through Instagram (don’t do it at church please), but nonetheless media spaces have changed the way of the world for the better.

Anyway, that’s all from me. I’m off to check all of my social media feeds again.

Until next time,
Sophie.

Image via: rachelstourofbeauty.com