Home & Away: Reflecting on Research

“Where we love is home- home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Home is a concept I’ve always found interesting. Having moved interstate three times and lived in two other countries, it’s safe to say that I’ve had a fair few homes. Right now, I’d probably call where my parents live home. It’s where I went to high school, grew up, and it’s where all of my stuffed toys are stored. I love going home, but due to studying and working down in Wollongong, six hours away from my parents home by train, I don’t get to visit often. And because I don’t visit, I’ve found myself becoming very dependent on media technologies to keep relationships strong and alive back home, which got me wondering about how other students and friend that I have who do live out of home balance their ‘home’ and their ‘newly created home.’ This curiosity drove my research question of “how do people manage their life at home and their new life away from home?” 

Even Marilyn spent time hanging by the phone. Source
Even Marilyn spent time hanging by the phone. Source

Who & Why?

I interviewed four people who all have interesting stories when it comes to managing home through the use of media. I started with myself and discovered an unnamed phenomenon of my parents talking to me as I walk home alone. Secondly, I interviewed my Brazilian friend Charline, where she discussed long Skype chats, managing time zones and her perception of home always being Brazil, challenging Meyroitz’s theory of placelessness. Thirdly, I talked with my friend Bacon, an international student from Malaysia who believes home is where you make it and that technology can get in the way of living in the moment. And lastly I spoke to my housemate Luke as we discussed media etiquette required to manage both spaces effectively. I felt that I captured diverse perspectives and experiences that were useful in capturing the complexity of balancing and managing space through media technology however also made it more exciting when I noticed similarities.

Challenges

With any major research task, there are always challenges to overcome. Whilst I discussed my research idea with many other friends and I had intended to showcase more people and their stories, however some of Torsten Hägerstrand’s restrictions came in to play. The restriction of ‘can I get there?’ and ‘can I get there on time?’ influence and affected the amount of time I had to prepare due to end of session stress and work overload before a deadline. Whilst taking these into consideration, I decided to choose and focus on fewer stories but capture more insight and perspective from these people.

The platform

I decided use the medium of a blog post because firstly, it’s the platform I’m most comfortable and confident with and I’m always looking to add new and interesting content to it. Secondly, I felt like it was a nice thing for my interviewees to walk away with. Many of them had already read previous posts regarding the media through my blog so I thought it only made sense to have an element of continuity. It’s something that they can share with family and friends, and the feedback I received about being featured on my blog was extremely positive and encouraging.

Occupying two places at once. Source
Occupying two places at once. Source

Results

A theme that was common between myself and my friends was the concept of a ‘double reality’ and occupying two spaces at the same time (Foschini, 2009). This theory furthermore sparked and encouraged my curiosity because I’d never thought about it in that way.

All of us used social media like ‘Facebook to facilitate the formation and maintenance of social capital. In addition to assessing bonding and bridging social capital, we explore a dimension of social capital that assesses one’s ability to stay connected with members of a previously inhabited community, which we call maintained social capital’ (Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe,  2007). Whilst I would argue the term social capital is too impersonal, sterile and serious, and perhaps communities or networks would be a better alternative, it was interesting to see that all of us predominantly relied on phone calls and audio to balance life at home and their new life away from home. However, this was exclusively for family. Social media was used to form and maintain social networks among friends.

The following video offers some words of advice to keep in touch with people once you move away. With a touch of comedy and a some accuracy, this video captures ways in which people manage their home life and their life away frome home. 

I also liked the fact that ‘home’ meant something different for everyone. Bacon believes home is where you make it, whereas Charline believes that her home will always be Brazil no matter where she lives. For Luke and I we both associate home with where our parents live. This could potentially be influenced by cultural factors or age, however I found it reassuring that home meant something different to everyone.

Usefullness to media industries 

By sitting down and casually discussing Charline, Bacon and Luke’s ways of keeping in touch with family and friends back home, I was able to engage in a more ethnographic study to get an insider’s perspective on balancing home life and their new life out of home. All three of my interviewees seemed to encounter significant issues with Skype. Upon my self-reflection, I purely focused on phone calls home. I believe that all of their stories (and frustrations) could be used in an extremely convincing way to media industries. Firstly, on how to develop audio-visual communication. Perhaps people would be willing to pay if they were guaranteed exceptional connection? And secondly, the case of Bacon making phone calls back to Malaysia because of free international minutes, perhaps this could encourage other phone providers to follow suit to make prices even more competitive and consumer friendly.

Future Research

I was extremely intrigued by Luke’s self-regulation on how he uses his phone when talking to his parents. Not only to show respect to them, but also to show respect to friends around him. It would be interesting to do further research on self-regulation around media use in social situations.

The most important thing…

The most significant thing that I will take away from this project (besides working on time management which is something I can always improve) is to always start with a discussion on the topic you are investigating. Instead of starting off with a list of twenty questions and firing away, it’s crucial to actively listen to what your interviewee is saying because they might just surprise you. I was surprised with themes that our conversations uncovered and I feel like these were invaluable to my research and telling their stories.

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Thank you to everyone who helped in the creation of my digital storytelling project of how people manage their home life and life away from home. Special thanks to my awesome interviewees Charline, Bacon and Luke. Your opinions and perspectives have been so insightful and I genuinely appreciate the time you took out from your busy lives to sit down and talk with me. 

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Further Information

Jessica Shaftoe explores the way in which we are always connected through our buzzing and beeping mobile phones. Her video that she created is especially well put together, asking the question ‘are we too accessible?’ This also ties into Bacon’s perspective and value towards living in the moment, and sometimes this may required disconnecting for a while.

References

Ellison, N, Steinfield, C, & Lampe, C 2007, ‘The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites’, Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 4, pp. 1143-1168, Communication & Mass Media Complete,  viewed 30 October 2015, http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=26313783&site=eds-live

Foschini, T 2009, The Doubling of Place: The Electronic Media, Time-Space Arrangements and Social Relationships – Shaun Moores, Tori’s Blog, 3 April, accessed 24 October 2015, https://tfoschini.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/the-doubling-of-place-electronic-media-time-space-arrangements-and-social-relationships-shaun-moores/

Home & Away: Manners and Management

Meet Luke. Not only is he a great friend, but also a great housemate. He’s 21, originally from Canberra, studying Civil and Environmental engineering, and currently working for an environmental consultant agency (he’s cool because he’s helping to save our planet). We’ve been housemates for approximately 9 months and being housemates with people at college, you get to know each other pretty well. I know that he’s an avid soccer fan, has a twin, has lived at a University college for the past three years and whenever he gets a phone call from his family back home in Canberra, he’ll always leave the room to answer the call. So, let’s investigate.

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Luke and I at our college formal

“Do the right thing and step outside to talk on your phone.” – Shari Roan

Why do you leave the room to answer a phone call? 

“My parents can usually tell when there are lots of other people around. I think they want me to dedicate all of my attention to them. I also don’t want to come off as rude to my friends. I hate it when other people answer their phone in a crowded room because I find myself listening in on their conversations. I feel guilty for not calling my family more often, so I might as well make them happy and take some time out of my day to talk to them properly.”

Canberra is only about a 2.5 hour drive away from Wollongong, but without a car, the 4hour overpriced bus ride is not worth the weekend visit. Luke generally makes it home about four times a year, so he relies on phone calls to keep in touch with his loved ones. Last year, he used to Skype his family once a week, but similarly to Bacon’s experience, he gets easily frustrated by internet connections so he sticks with phone calls.

Luke finds himself leaving the room to answer a phone call to avoid “Halfalogue.” “Halfalogue,” refers to when you subconsciously overhear and listen to someone elses conversation (Association for Psychological Science, 2010). The use of mobile phones in public spaces can seem ‘intrusive,’ ‘rude’ and ‘disrespectful’ (Roan, 2010). If someone is to answer their mobile phone in a room full of people, they suddenly need to manage two spaces simultaneously.

As we continue to use technology to keep in touch with our loved ones, we implement more societal rules and restrictions on ourselves and others in order to maintain strong and genuine connections with our families back home, and not let it interfere with our new lives in our new homes. By Luke physically removing himself from a room full of people to dedicate time and space to his phone call and the people on the other end of the line, he is removing distractions, removing annoying and irritating ‘halfalogue,’ and is able to talk to his family properly. Your parents definitely raised you to have good manners Luke.

Luke getting a call from his parents.
Luke getting a call from his parents.

Thankyou Luke for your time and insight to frustrations that we have with other mobile users and etiquette you try to use around friends and the respect that you show on your phone towards your family. 

References

Association for Psychological Science, 2010, ‘”Halfalogue”: Overheard Cell Phone Conversations Are Not Only Annoying but Reduce Our Attention”, Association for Psychological Science, 20 September, http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/halfalogue-overheard-cell-phone-conversations-are-not-only-annoying-but-reduce-our-attention-html.html

Haddon, L, & Green, N 2009, Mobile Communications: An Introduction To New Media, n.p.: Oxford ; New York : Berg, viewed 1 November 2015, http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat03332a&AN=uow.b1689134&site=eds-live

Roan, S 2010, ‘Why Overhearring Cellphone Conversations is Annoying’, LA Times, 20 May, viewed 31 October 2015, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/05/cellphones-driving-annoying.html

Home & Away: Home Is Where You Make It

‘Home is where you make it, if you don’t expose yourself to your new environment, what’s the point.’

Meet my friend Bacon. I met him this year when he put his hand up to play netball for our college team. I was then lucky enough to attend a leadership conference at university where we were in the same team. Since then, I’ve come to know Bacon as an extremely positive, outgoing and happy member of our college community and a lovely friend. Bacon is from Malaysia and currently studying Commerce with a double major in accounting and finance. Having only been in Australia for four months, Bacon offered some very unique perspectives on the management of home in Malaysia and here in Australia.

My friend Bacon
My friend Bacon
Family in Malaysia 

Bacon’s parents and two older sisters still live in Malaysia. I automatically assumed he would spend a lot of time on Skype, and was extremely surprised to discover that he usually makes phone calls to his family back home. “I get 300 minutes of free international calls, it’s a lot easier and cheaper for me to just call them.” Then when discussing Skype and the wonders of new technology, he said that he rarely used Skype. I was pretty surprised because when I spent a year abroad, I generally Skyped my parents once a week. But then he proceeded to explain the frustration associated with dodgy internet connections and I remembered back to all of those frustrated hours spent loading and reloading Skype due to horrible connection. He concluded saying that Skype leaves him wishing he was at home with his family or wishing that his family were here with him, so he’d rather stick with his fortnightly phone calls.

Bacon knows that his parents and family is only a phone call away which is a reassuring feeling when separated by distance. It’s common for international students to have a ‘telepresence’ with their network back in their home country (Martin & Rizvi, 2014), which is the sensation of being somewhere else through technology. Bacon’s new ‘complex social networks exemplify the blurred lines between ‘here’ and ‘there’ (Martin, &Rizvi) and allow him to balance these networks despite distance.

Friends in Australia 

Bacon is extremely independent, so it makes sense as to why he has already created a new home here in Wollongong. Bacon says he has two sorts of ‘groups’ here in Australia; one is of International Students, and a group of other Asian students. He likes being apart of both groups because it’s nice to connect with other people who share similar cultural traits, however he enjoys making the most of his new Australian friends. Living at college makes it easier for him to embrace the opportunity to live and study in Australia and create a home here. He’s also taken on the challenge of adopting some Australian slang like arvo and dodgy (which he used effortlessly in our conversation). ‘I’ve noticed that a lot of Asian international students tend to stick together. I love hanging out with them, but at the end of the day I came to Australia to immerse myself in this environment. I want to make the most of this opportunity.’ 

Bacon represents people who keep in contact with their friends and family back home, however don’t let it interfere with their newly created home. He lives in the moment and makes the most of opportunities, whilst balancing different friend groups here in Australia, all with a smile.

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Thankyou Bacon for your time, energy and insight into communication in Australia and back home for International Students. Your opinions and perspectives are incredibly valued. 

Further Information

“If you spend your time absorbed in your phone, you’re missing out on living in the moment”

The following video is an information clip for outgoing exchange students heading to Denmark on exchange. It covers very interesting points about keeping in touch and making the most of your time abroad.

References

Martin, F, & Rizvi, F 2014, ‘Making Melbourne: digital connectivity and international students’ experience of locality’, Media, Culture & Society, 36, 7, pp. 1016-1031, viewed 31 October 2015, http://japanfocus.org/-Audrey-Yue/4268/article.html

Home & Away: Placelessness and Home

Meet my friend Charline. We met when I moved into a shared house in London in 2013. She had been living there for a few months before I moved in and already had well established friendships with the other housemates. I think our friendship really began when I would go and sit on the end of her bed in the morning whilst eating my breakfast and making her some tea. Charline is a pretty incredible person. Originally from Brazil, Charline has spent years between Australia, London and her home city Porto Alegre learning English and working in hospitality. She is now living in Brisbane with her boyfriend and their family while she waits for a partnership visa.

Charline and I on our adventures in Rome.
Charline and I on our adventures in Rome.

It’s nearly been two years since Charline has been back to Brazil, and with her family being such an important part of her life, she engages in some interesteing home balancing acts. She juggles Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and Facetime, to keep in touch with her family despite there being a 13hour time difference. She’ll often find herself chatting to them very early in the morning (6am) in Australia or late at night (when it’s morning in Brazil). Unlike me, she’s unable to call her parents at 5pm when she finishes work, because they’ll be sound asleep. And then, she needs to combat poor internet connection, which lets face it, is everyone’s nightmare. Whether she’s skyping her brother in Dublin, Facebooking her father in Brazil or calling me in Wollongong, it’s evident that Charline is able to occupy several continents at the same time.

Charline managing her homes around the world.
Charline managing her spaces and relationships around the world.

So, as Charline balances her home life in Brazil, whilst living in a new home in Brisbane, the relationship between communication and home begin to evolve. I often come across the saying ‘home is not a place, it’s a feeling.’ This coincides with Meyroitz’s theory of placelessness where ‘people aren’t defined by physical boundaries, but rather networks of information and knowledge faciliated by new media technologies’ (Laughey, pp. 85, 2007). Whilst it’s easy to see how Charline is not restricted by physical boundaries anymore, she does continue to create a new sense of place. It is apparent that in today’s society, modern technology actually allows us to occupy multiple places at the same time and create new senses of place (Moores, 2012), however we cannot undermine the significance of a physical place to people, especially home.

Despite the forces of globalization and the break down of physical barriers through media technologies like skype, one cannot be placeless, because place plays an integral role in communication.  Internet access, time differences and language all influence the way in which we communicate, especially the way in which Charline keeps in touch with her family.

The term placelessness, implies ‘without a place,’ where in fact Charline has created many places and ways of life around the world. To Charline, home is a place, Brazil. Her family, culture and language all contribute to her sense of home being in Brazil. Whilst she is still able to create a sense of place, it will never replace home. Charline continues to ‘create a sense of place despite the disruptive and chaotic experience of mobility’ (Dassopoulos, 2013) and the challenge will lie in balancing multiple places, however no sense of place will replace a sense of home. And to Charline, home will always be Brazil.

There's no place like home
There’s no place like home

*Thankyou to Charline for chatting to me about your travels, your frustrations at wifi and reception signals and your beautiful home, Brazil. 

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References

Laughey, D 2007, Key Themes In Media Theory, Maidenhead, Open University Press, pp. 85, viewed 26 October 2015

Dassopolous, A 2013, ‘Book Review of Media, Place and Mobility by Shaun Moores’, International Journal of Communication, Universtiy of Nevada, Vol. 7, viewed 26 October 2015, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/viewFile/2365/952

Moores, S 2012, Media, Place And Mobility, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan,  viewed 26 October 2015, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=W7QcBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PR4&ots=g0SRb6nCRc&dq=Shaun%20Moores%2C%20Media%2C%20Place%20%26%20Mobility%2C%20New%20York%2C%20NY%3A%20Palgrave%20Macmillan%2C%202012%2C&pg=PA9#v=onepage&q=placeness%20&f=false

Home & Away: Walking Home With My Parents

Where am I? Physically, I’m sitting at the library at the University of Wollongong, typing away at my blog. My mind is daydreaming about the end of session spent at the beach. I’m texting my friend in Sydney, reminiscing about our weekend. And I’ve just Facebook messaged a friend in Mexico to see if he’s OK in Hurricaine Patricia. The question stands that if I am physically in one place, however engaging in another through the media… where am I and how is this managed?

I’ll be speaking to 4 different university students about how they manage their home and their new life out of home. The relationship between media, audience and place is complex, especially when it comes to making your parents happy that you keep in touch, mainaining old friendships and making the most of your time whilst living out of home. So, I thought I would begin with myself, and explore the ways in which I manage my home-new home relationship.

IMG_4743
It’s nice to know you’re not walking alone.

I grew up and attended high school in Port Stephens near Newcastle where I still have a large friend and family network. After graduating high school and spending my GAP year abroad. Then in 2014 I moved down to Wollongong to study. I am now living at my second university residence and after three years of living out of home and balancing my home – new home life, I’ve come up with some strategic and productive ways to do so.

I’ve previously discussed wasted time, and I seem to accumulate quite a lot of this. To make the most of this ‘wasted time,’ I will call my parents when I am walking home from work, the gym or the train station. My Dad is always on his mobile, and he will ‘walk me home.’ Even if the walk is just a few minutes this allows me to debrief him on my day and what I got up to, whilst at the same time, I feel safe knowing that he’s ‘walking me home.’ I also find myself having long conversations with my Mum whenever I’m cleaning my room. Whenever I’m at home, Mum will usually sit on my bed and help me fold my clothes while we just chat for hours until my room is clean. So when I find myself cleaning my room, I’ll call Mum, put her on speaker and it’s almost as if she’s sitting on the bed with me (except I’m folding my own clothes).

We can recreate the notion of a ‘double reality’ (Foschini, 2009) where we can ultimately occupy two places simultaneously. I remember being young and saying to my Mum ‘there’s so many things I want to do, I wish there were two of me.’ And whilst there may not be two of me (just yet) by creating a double reality, it allows me to keep connected and occupy two spaces at the same time to increase productivity. This removes physical boundaries like distance and blurs the line between home and my new home.

Whilst I may not have yet managed to fulfil six year old Adelaide’s wish of having two of me, I’ve definitely been able to transcend distance and space through the use of technology and have my parents walk me home.

References

Foschini, T 2009, The Doubling of Place: The Electronic Media, Time-Space Arrangements and Social Relationships – Shaun Moores, Tori’s Blog, 3 April, accessed 24 October 2015, https://tfoschini.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/the-doubling-of-place-electronic-media-time-space-arrangements-and-social-relationships-shaun-moores/

Content, Growth and Inspiration: BCM240 Reflection

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told” – Lena Dunham

The above quote from one of my idols, Lena Dunham, is so deeply motivating in my blogging career, because it gives me purpose and pride that I’m sharing my voice on my small blog, in the big wide world of the blogosphere. Prior to taking BCM240: Media Audience and Place, I had been blogging for approximately 1.5years and have been attempting to steadily grown my readership. Blogging is something I find relaxing, entertaining, challenging and exciting all at the same time and that’s why I’ve been attempting to grow beyond blogging as a Communications student, to, well… a blogger. I feel that whilst this subject required me to be blogging as a student, considering various perspectives and values placed on the complex relationships between media and audience, it also really pushed me to think of life beyond university and how I want to be perceived in the blogosphere. So I really focused on three areas, content, growth and inspiration. Through workshops, class discussions and countless hours trying to get that Twitter widget to work, I feel like I’m at a place with my blog that I’m not only happy with it, but maybe even a little bit proud.

My amazing Grandma and Grandad
My amazing Grandma and Grandad

Content. The most enjoyable part of blogging for BCM240 were the connections I made and strengthened, allowing me to produce some of my most valuable content. For my first several posts, I worked closely with my Grandad, as he told me beautiful stories from his childhood and memories when he was my age. As we explored the difference between collaborative and reciprocal ethnographic research, I attempted to engage in a collaborative approach. Whilst collaborative research requires a lot of time and attention, I feel that Grandad and I definitely worked together to explore various issues regarding the media and audience. I personally feel that senior citizens are generally overlooked in media research and deemed as people who are technologically handicapped. However I feel that there’s people out there like my Grandad who’s smashing this stereotype. Not only is this group of people, well connected technologically, but they’re also very aware and have genuine concerns regarding the role that technology and the media have in our lives. (To read a guest post by my Grandad, click here).

The Bloglovin widget
The Bloglovin widget. Source 

Growth. A way that I’ve found brings a lot of traffic to my site is to read and comment on other people’s blogs. Some of the spikes in views I’ve had were on days that I didn’t even post anything, but spent time commenting on blogs (and always including a URL to my blog at the end). I’ve found that by doing this I’m engaging much more with the blogging community and other like-minded bloggers. Also by doing this with other BCM240 blogs and students, it forms a great sense of community in the subject.

One of the toughest things that I had to overcome with my blog was its layout and design. However, A Beautiful Mess definitely offered some inspiration and thoughtful suggestions regarding layout and design. I absolutely loved the theme I previously had, however its primary focus was on my photographs and not my content or plugins I’ve embedded in my blog (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin etc). After some umming and ahhing I decided to bite the bullet and endeavour on a near impossible journey to find the perfect theme. Whilst it’s still not perfect, I’m so much happier with the light colours, the side-bars which encourage interaction and the ease of navigation. I hope this will assist in the growth of my blog by being more interactive and engaging to readers.

Social media is a great way to connect with people all across the world with the click of a button. I’ve read countless articles about blog growth, however Heidi Cohen offers great advice on how to utilise social media for your blog. In June I created a Facebook page for my blog that has been steadily growing. I felt that this was a better way to share A Worldly Addiction, rather than constantly making status’ on my own personal profile. Through analysing my statistics, Facebook is my primary contributor to traffic. I also have an Instagram account for A Worldly Addiction (@aworldlyaddiction) that I’ve really enjoyed growing. At the moment, it’s very small and I’m still learning all the tricks to Instagram but it’s incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. I currently just have my personal Twitter account linked with A Worldly Addiction because I have to purposely and actively remember to use Twitter, so whilst I’m getting in the habit of doing so, I’ll just stick with my personal Twitter account (@missaaadelaide). great platform that I also use to share my blog and discovers others is Bloglovin.

The following link also gave me 101 Ideas on how to generate traffic to your blog.

That time I got to meet Brooke Saward, the genuis behind World of Wanderlust! Inspiration overload
That time I got to meet Brooke Saward, the genuis behind World of Wanderlust! Inspiration overload

Inspiration. Inspiration is all around us, especially in the Blogosphere. There are a few blogs in particular that I’ve been particularly inspired by and look to for guidance and how to’s. Firstly, my favourite, World of Wanderlust. You only need to look here to find how much I absolutely love her blog. And then there’s Secret Bloggers Business, who’s free ebooks are filled with useful blogging tips and tricks. I feel that once I am inspired, I’m more driven and focused. Kaufman also argues that ‘inspiration is the springboard for creativity and can increase wellbeing’ (Kaufman, 2011).

Eat. Sleep. Blog. Repeat. I know I have a long way to go in my blogging career, however it’s something I’m passionate about and absolutely love doing so I’m prepared to put in the hard yards to make that happen. I feel that BCM240 has contributed the greatest amount of practical advice, guidance and encouragement with my blog and also helped my professional networking ability. I have also explored various aspects of the intricately complex relationship between the media and us as the audience. And this is all so relevant to myself as a blogger. I don’t just jump onto WordPress and write a blog in one hit. I have 10 other tabs open, I’ve always got my phone within reach and sometimes even have the TV on. And this situation would resonate with many people reading this. The Centre for Media Literacy says that ‘studying the media helps us understand ourselves and other,’ and I feel this is the epicentre of BCM240 and the key to a successful blog.

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And before I go… Here’s some of my fave BCM240 blogs that I’ve stumbled across this past session.

The Blogger Life, What Happened to the family? by Eloise Neto looks at the role that parents play in influencing their child’s media behaviour, and that to avoid isolation and relationship issues, they must decide on a common ground for technology use.

Madeline Burkitt, by (you guessed it) Madeline Burkitt, is filled with not only media related ideas, but also various others, making it a great place to explore some of the thoughts and perspectives she has. I especially liked her post, The NBN in the home: an opportunity for some, as she highlights that this type of media research is crucial because it is so embedded in our lives, we must understand it!

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References

A Beautiful Mess, 2012, Blog Layout: 10 Simple Tips, A Beautiful Mess, 3 July, http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/07/10-blog-layout-tips.html

Cohen, H 2013, 25 Tactics to promote your blog via Facebook and Twitter, Heidi Cohen, 14 April, http://heidicohen.com/25-tactics-to-promote-your-blog-via-facebook-and-twitter/

Ewer, T n.d, 101 Simple Ways to Increase Website Traffic, Graph Paper Press, https://graphpaperpress.com/blog/101-simple-tips-increase-website-traffic/

Kaufman, S 2011, Why Inspiration Matters, Harvard Business Review, 8 November, https://hbr.org/2011/11/why-inspiration-matters

Worsnop, C n.d, 20 Important Reasons to Study the Media, The Centre for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/20-important-reasons-study-media

‘The Media.’ A Guest Post by P. Thompson

In 1836 Samuel F.B Morse, an American artist, Joseph Henry, a physicist and Alfre Vail developed an electircal telegraph system relying on “on” “off” pulses. The “Morse Code” was born. The most common emergency sequence in the world is S.O.S (save our souls) and is still used today. The code is º º º – – – º º º It was used a lot during WWII, then after, all the post offices used it to send telegrams around the world.

Oh media, how you have changed. During the 40’s, we still used wind up handle phones, to turn rings would get the exchange the operator would ask ‘your number please,’ then they plugged you through, that is if you both had paid to have a connection, and then when you finished you rang off.

Telegrams, the text message before mobile phones
Telegrams, the text message before mobile phones

So now all has changed, when you see young people, children, adults, everybody is staring at the things in their hand and are transfixed; the mobile phone/computer is here. Is it good or is bad? The answer is… it depends on who’s hand it is in. The good sides, it can be used in emergencys such as accidents, breakdowns, rescues, to send nice messages (especially happy birthdays) and quick information (such as who invented the Morse Code).

The bad sides. Some use it for bullying, people can be influenced to do bad things (for example ISIS recruitment), it can be very distracting (driving a car), very bad manners in others company, possible eye strain (more glasses for children) and less activity (leading to obesity).

But we still call it progress!

My wife and I have four children, twelve grandchildren, eight and a half great grandchildren and we love them all. We’ve created a family, so we love it that we’re able to keep up to date with Adelaide’s life. We have them sent by email and we read them in awe, as she covers numerous topics. Grandma always says ‘come on, read me the blog.’ We love reading them, especially when they relate to early times in Australian history.

As time marches on, we hope if nothing else she keeps writing her blogs.

P. Thompson

*****

This is a guest post by my wonderfully thoughtful, helpful and talented Grandad. Over the past several weeks, Grandad has been helping me with my BCM240 blogging assignments, beautifully retelling his great stories from when he first got a TV, what life was like back in the 40’s and 50’s and various thoughts and perspectives of the media. Thank you so much for your time, expertise and storytelling, I appreciate and value every minute we spend together.

My amazing Grandma and Grandad
My amazing Grandma and Grandad

Living in a Sex Negative Culture

Before an American child turns eighteen, they see over two hundred thousand acts of violence and forty-thousand murders on TV but not one female nipple. So what is more obscene? (Camero, 2014).

You just need to take one glance at the cover of a magazine to know that everyone’s talking about sex and sexuality (thanks Miley Cyrus). It’s a natural part of life and it makes sense to openly discuss something that everyone will experience in their life, right? Despite this current craze about sex and sexuality, there’s still a hushed tone around discussing these things. On the other end of the spectrum, is violence. An act which is comletely unnatural, to want to hurt another person, and cause others pain and suffering. However, you don’t have to wait up past 9pm anymore to see one of CSI’s mangled corpses on your screen. These days you can turn on the 6 o’clock news and you’ll see violent acts such as the murder of two news journalists on live television, or children being killed and wounded in a school massacre. These are all important news stories, however is does raise the question of why is censoring sex more important than censoring violence?

South Africa's Cosmopolitan January 2015 issue. Source
South Africa’s Cosmopolitan January 2015 issue. Source

The answer is children and moral panic. Dr Klein explains that we live in a ‘sex negative culture’ where we tell children that sex is bad for no other reason that ‘because it just is’ (Klein, 2015). This dystopian view (Bowles & Turnbull, 2015) focuses on the harmful effects that exposure to sex and sexuality on TV can have on children. Children have always been viewed of ‘at risk,’ and therefore worth protecting of the horrific nature of a naked body, because it would destroy their childhood (Bowles & Turnbull, 2015). The University of Michigan provides an information guide for parents on children and TV watching saying ‘TV can promote risky behavior, such as trying dangerous stunts, substance use and abuse, and irresponsible sexual behavior’ (Boyse, 2010). This dystopic perspective that television is an evil thing in our loungerooms corrupting our children is contributing to this moral panic and the sense that we need to protect out children from potentially corruptive sources.

So how is the act of censorship spatial? ‘Censorship is aimed at material that is believed to be unspeakable, too private to be public’ (Klein, 2015) which demonstrates how both of an audiences private and public lives can be regulated through the censorship of something that is as ‘unspeakable’ as sex. The fact that this censorship travels beyond the media’s public eye and into our private homes directly correlates with how you would speak about sex to your family or friends. And if you’re brought up being told not to talk about it from the media, then you’re certainly not going to speak about it anywhere else.

So which is worse for our children to see? Source
So which is worse for our children to see? Source

Whilst there is still obviously a lot of concern regarding children and watching violence on TV and in video games, the question still remains. Why is it more common for children to watch a crime show and see violent acts then see something that human nature, real and something that is a big part in our society like sex and sexuality?

Reference

Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2015, Media Audience and Place: 8 Regulating Audience, BCM240, University of Wollongong, lecture delivered 21 September

Boyse, K 2010, Television and Children, University of Michigan Health Systems, August, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm

Camero, C 2014, What is more obscene, violence or a female nipple?, XPress Magazine, http://xpress.sfsu.edu/xpressmagazine/2014/12/08/what-is-more-obscene-violence-or-a-female-nipple/

Klein, M 2015, Censorship and the fear of sexuality, Dr Marty Klein, http://www.martyklein.com/censorship-and-the-fear-of-sexuality/

Further Information

And it wouldn’t be a blog post without a concluding note from Mr John Oliver. This hilariously witty piece looks at how important it is to talk openly about sex in a safe and judgement free environment.

Wasted Space and Wasted Time?

We all know that money is time and time is money. So it makes sense to make the most of each spare minute we have. As the Swish Media Group says ‘it’s no secret that Australians are becoming increasingly time poor,’ and I completely agree. My calendar is smothered and my phone beeps every half an hour or so (I may have even slept with my phone by my side on the odd occasion). So I love my phone and so do all of my friends. But is multi-screening making us more productive?

People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011
People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011

These days you’d think that a mobile phone was supplying oxygen to people’s brains… people just can’t live without them. A few weeks ago, we talked about ‘non-places.’ Non-places are those spaces that are used for no particular reason or as a transition place (Bowles, 2015) like a hallway or an airport corridor. So whilst people are usually forced to use these non-places or even places they’re waiting for something, it’s natural to keep yourself occupied.

Even when we’re in public, we bring a piece of our private lives with us. Google’s New Multi Screen World’s: Understanding Cross Platform Consumer Behaviour Research Study says, ‘that smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities.’ We can see that people are utilising the power of their smartphones when they are out in public, and follow up with some further research on a PC later. After looking at the last tabe I had open on my phone, work intranet, my UOW SOLS page, an image search of Eddie Redmayne and how to find a book in the library… the majority of them correlate with a spontaneous ideas ‘must submit my work hours,’ ‘have I got my assignment marks back yet?’ ‘ah Eddie Redmayne is cute,’ ‘how do I borrow a book from the library?’ By having the ability to act upon all of these thoughts when I’m away from my PC brings me a lot more reassurance and leaves me feeling like I’ve accomplished a lot in a small amount of time.

Snapshot from Google's research
Snapshot from Google’s research

In keeping up with my collaborative ethnography, I sat down with a group of friends and discussed multi screening and the appropriate behaviour regarding mobile usage.  The points that I discussed with my friends reflected some of Google’s findings, like the fact that many of us ‘accomplish goals through spontaneous device uses.’ My friends said that they would often find themselves adding things to their calendars, booking train tickets home – just accomplishing other things that they’d need to do anyway. Instead, they just did it during a lecture, on the bus or even on the toilet.

But as the above video very nicely points out, that perhaps being always switched on, may not always be a good thing. We’ve let our phones into our dinner conversations, meetings, workplaces, classrooms, dates… everywhere. So whilst we seem to have all of this ‘wasted time,’ maybe it’s more important to take some time for ourselves and embrace real moments with others.

References

Bowles, K 2015, ‘Cinemas: Strangers in public’, BCM240, University of Wollongong, delivered 24 August

Google, 2012 ‘The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross Platform Behaviour,’ US, https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf

Swish Media

Public Spaces and Faces: Tele Cocooning and Consent

Thanks for encouraging us to go out in the sunshine and roll around in fields in our underwear Passenger. The song is a very dystopic view of technology and society and how we (mentally and emotionally) switch off when we’re turning on.

The movie ‘Her’ is also a dystopic view of how tele cocooning (explained below) can create and generate real emotions, feelings and feel as though you are really, genuinely connected to someone.

And this video, is beautifully scary because I’m sure we’re all experienced one if not all of these scenes ourselves, and can’t help but laugh and immediately reflect on the last time you were out with friends.

But the ironic thing is… we’re all watching these videos through our technology whilst they’re questioning and challenging the invasion of technology! We’re trapped in the technology cycle! And it’s very easy for me to say all of this because here I am, sitting at a desk in the library, flicking between Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, texting and snapchatting from my phone, and spending half an hour to find the perfect playlist to study to on Youtube, using my phone and laptop as a nice little coccoon to keep myself from looking lonely. But if there’s so many of these messages coming from the media, why aren’t we paying attention?

A Cocoon with a Satellite dish attached to it. Source
A Cocoon with a Satellite dish attached to it. Source

I didn’t choose the coccoon metaphor out of pure brilliance. It was coined by Ichiyo Habuchi and tele cocooning is defined as ‘the communication of one person to the next without having physical interaction with that person’ (Cyborg Anthropology). So more or less something we do every day when we text, snapchat or email someone.

So when my friends and I went to Amigos on Tuesday night, we made a pact to stack our phones on top of one another, (trying) to ignore them, and the first person to reach for their phones had to buy a round of shots. It was awesome, we were laughing, talking and just enjoying eachother’s company. In fact, we were having such a great time that I just needed to capture it… but wait. My camera is my phone. This began a discussion on ‘am I allowed to grab my phone to take a photo?’ And got me thinking even more about why I wanted to take this photo.

Selfie before cheers, always. Source
Selfie before cheers, always. Source

According to the concept of tele cocooning ‘sharing photos is tied to a sense of co-distribution and this becomes a reflexive process of self-authoring and viewpoint construction’ (Cyborg Anthropology). This raises so many other questions like ‘do we value the people we’re talking to on our phones more?’ ‘do we just have a short attention span?’ ‘are we actually using our phones to our advantage/to help us?’ ‘why are our phones more valuable than our friends?’. 

My friend Zina studying at the library
My friend Zina studying at the library

I believe that tele cocooning isn’t all doom and gloom. I snapped the above picture of my friend today at the library as we were studying together. Despite studying ‘together’ we were in completely separate worlds. Each time she would say something to me, I’d have to stop my music and take my headphones out and then ask her to repeat what she’s just said. She was studying Spanish and I’ve been blogging and getting distracted by watching trailers for movies. However, Zina explained she was using her phone to look up a word in Spanish and was using her laptop to print class notes.

After I’d taken the picture, I showed her and asked if she liked it and if I could use it for my blog post. She obviously said yes but asked what it was about. And fair enough, I wouldn’t exactly want a random picture of me studying on a random blog. But whilst exploring tele cocooning, I stumbled across another issue with technology. Photography and consent. I blurred the faces of 5 people in the background of this photo that I didn’t ask for their permission to take the photo. As Colberg says ‘photographers may agree that what they’re doing is fine, but is the public OK with it?’ (Colber, 2013). However, as you can still see, they each have a laptop in front of them and whilst they are studying in a group, they’re not really interacting as a group.

PhotoShares guidelines for consent for photography. Source
PhotoShares guidelines for consent for photography. Source

The questions and concerns that arise from tele cocooning are complex and get you reconsidering every moment you spend on your phone. The fact of the matter is, we’re all dependent on our technology and scoeity wouldn’t function without it. As Seiter explains ‘it’s important to have a good balance of being connected and disconnected from technology, and using this technology to benefit our relationships’ (Seiter, 2015).

Sure, it may have taken me an extra hour or so to write this blog post because I’ve spoken to my Nan on the phone, texted my friends, snapchatted my struggle of trying to be productive, and downloaded a new app, but at the end of the day… I’ve got my work done and been able to keep in touch with my family and friends. What more could you want?

References

Colberg, J 2013. ‘Ethics of Street Photography’, Conscientious Extended, 3 April, http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/

Cyborg Anthropology, Tele Cocooning, http://cyborganthropology.com/Tele-Cocooning

Seiter, C 2015, ‘The Psychology of Selfies: Why we love taking and viewing photos of the face,’ Buffer Social, 17 June, https://blog.bufferapp.com/psychology-of-selfies

Further information

The following post ‘Unified in social media but segregated in reality’ by Amelia Murphy, takes a good look at how technologically saturated some public spaces can be. Along with her great, sneaky photography, she analyses how technology is such a big part of our lives and how we’re always connected.

The following post ‘Sweaty public places: the 55C and the gym’ by Red Canister Diaries (in my opinion) absolutely nailed the art of observing how people interacted with technology in the public space.

The following article looks at the Psychology of selfies.