Author Archive

The ways of the Researcher

May 24, 2010

Who needs to stress about writing up the final research paper when we have the likes of Liamputtong’s advice to push us along in the right direction. In the reading “Writing a Qualitative Research Report”, we are provided the fundamental tools and ideas to make our qualitative research papers ‘good’.

Firstly we need to understand the nature of qualitative research writings. In a nut shell they need to be long. This is due to factors like:

–          Detailed descriptions

–          Freedom to use literary devices

–          The need to explain what and why

Next we are told that we need to distinguish who we are writing for, which can be a critical aspect that determines the ‘goodness’ of the report. Liamputong tells us that “qualitative writing needs to be constructed according to the needs and concerns of the audience”. By doing this your findings will be better understood if they are aimed at a particular audience type e.g. scientists v. publisher

Next we look to the structure of qualitative writing. There are 3 main types:

1)      Reports: they seem to be “more pragmatic” and focused on “policy issues” and as a result will have a greater impact on the groups described in the research

2)      Articles: are condensed forms of the research, normally broken up into subgroups of ideas presented, “discussing a specific issue in depth”

3)      Books and monographs: normally have minimal limitations and allow freedom in writing for the researcher. Structure will vary depending on characteristics of the writer themselves but content still needs to flow and vast descriptions need to be made

And to make our lives even easier we are then provided the Holy Grail: what makes for good writing; guys our job is done for us at this point. The key factors include:

–          Writing needs to be as “readable” as possible and “straightforward and understandable” – ok so this is an obvious

–          It should be “cogent, conceptually coherent, and comprehensive” – ok another obvious one, so this Holy Grail is looking more like a chocolate bar

–          Aesthetics are important e.g. catchy titles, grammatically correct, citations to match references, etc – wow I could have told you that as well

Ok so my high spirits when I began this article thought that I’d find the perfect answers to make my writing for this final assessment perfect, but inevitably, just like everything, there are no easy answers, just a little help to sway you in the right direction…thank you Liamputong. Good luck everyone for the research paper, if I go by the quality of your blogs I’m sure you all will kill it.

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Is it a boy or a girl? … I think it’s a little early to start imposing roles on it, don’t you?

May 18, 2010

Until this week’s reading “Signs and Meanings” I have never really sat down to contemplate how meaning is produced by words, in my head it just was, that is a ‘dog’ is a dog. But when you put this term into different contexts you find yourself extracting a number of meanings from this word, this sign. A dog can be an animal we all know and love (except for those weird looking balding, miniature dogs people like Paris Hilton keep in their handbags, I don’t really care for those things) or if we shake up the context in which we use the term ‘dog’ we can change it to symbolize a derogatory term for a female, or use it to describe a friend who has abandoned you. Already we have found three different meanings for the one word so where do we go from here.

I tend to agree that we need to move away from the idealistic take that Saussure uses (even though many points he raises are true in that “reality, the world, and material conditions are not given, but rather are produced as meaningful through signs”, to agree more with the Marxist take of Volosinov where he advocates that there is “no such thing as an autonomous language system”. The three summarized propositions taken from Volosinov were:

  1. Signs are adaptable and changeable (e.g. the different meanings of the term ‘dog’)
  2. Words have a history of meanings (e.g. using ‘dog’ in a derogatory sense established later in history as part of colloquial language)
  3. The meanings created by signifiers are dependent on context (the meaning we take from the signifier ‘dog’ changes upon the way and situation it is used for)

The 3rd proposition is most important because the context of a symbol can have a powerful impact on individuals in their everyday life and the idea of “politicising meaning” as a result of context can often become detrimental for individuals associated with these symbols. E.g. the idea that the word ‘woman’ is associated with “emotionality, lack of reason, unprofessionalism…” These meanings are not extracted by all of society but there is a large sector that still associates these ideas with the word ‘woman’ and this meaning can affect women on a number of levels while trying to sustain a more worthwhile image within society.

So, inevitably, people are going to take their own meaning from the words (symbols) that are produced in everyday life; my advice is…try to be as careful as you can when raising an argument or point of view because the number of meanings read into what you say can sometimes get you into a lot of trouble..Sometimes, however, the meaning you take is right. Here’s a clip of George. W. Bush bloopers.

Someday im gonna be famous…

May 10, 2010

The “Media Audience”… who are they? Where are they hiding out? What are they doing with their time?

Once again we are hearing Nick Couldry’s thoughts, this time on the topic of the media audience. He delves into the concepts of the “diffused audience”, “media culture” and the “extended audience”.

The “diffused audience” is a modern concept that observes the blurred line between the audience and the performer; i.e. people “are simultaneously watchers and being watched”. What better example can we see than that of Big Brother in which television watchers become the ones being watched. This example is of modern audience narcissism at its best, where ordinary people feel they are interesting/exciting/shocking enough to become media spectacles.

This idea of narcissism also extends to the concept of “media culture” in which new media technologies has allowed us, as individuals, to become the producers and broadcast our own lives out into the public domain as Couldrey describes it as the “process of self-commodification as self-expression”. In a sense new media audiences have generally lost their inhibitions for the desire to become the performer; inevitably everyone wants, and essentially feel they deserve, their fifteen minutes of fame. To back up this idea we can look at the YouTube phenomenon where any individual, young, old, pretty, unfortunate looking… have the potential to be famous and no matter what, become the performer whilst also being a part of the audience. But yet, even with this ability to become the performer we, as audiences, are still in awe of media personalities, why else would media-set pilgrimages occur in order to see a set of something we see every day in our own living rooms. Even with these technological changes there is still this distance that exists between us and the performer, hence the popularity of magazine media commenting on celebrities.

This final concept of the “extended audience” is the one in which I agree with the most. The “diffused audience” fails to recognize the power of media institution. I argue with Couldrey in that although we, as an audience, have increased power (as a result of new media technologies, e.g. TV. programming to our own schedule, web blogs, etc) we still live in a media saturated world where, often subconsciously, we are consuming media. Ads on the side of buses, pop-up advertisement while surfing the net, televisions blaring in shopping centres and shop windows…the list goes on. So we come back to the “extended audience” which is a mix of the “diffused audience” whilst still recognizing the power relationship between media institutions and the audience.

I’ll leave you with some of the lyrics to the Brad Paisley song clebrity.

Someday I’m gonna be famous
Do I have talent well no
These days you don’t really need it
Thanks to reality shows
Can’t wait to date a supermodel
Can’t wait to sue my dad
Can’t wait to wreck a Ferrari
On my way to Rehab

Cause when you’re a celebrity
It’s adios reality
You can act just like a fool
And people think you’re cool
Just cause your on T.V.
I can throw a major fit
When my latte isn’t just how I like it
They say I’ve gone insane
I’ll blame it on the fame
And the pressures that go with….
Being a Celebrity

Networks- time to party?

May 3, 2010

The Castells reading “Information, networks, and the network society: a theoretical blueprint” opens up conversation on the emergence of network societies “whose social structure made of networks powered by micro-electronics-based information and communication technologies”.

Now, who in our and younger generations can say they have never associated themselves with network societies? Few and far between would be my guess. This point reflects the importance or even necessity to understand and grasp the components of network societies since they are a major contributor for information and social connection. Facebook, MySpace, MSN, Chat rooms, blogs, the list goes on and on.

These social structures allow a global connectivity which essentially give individual’s the power to distribute and gain knowledge and information which may have previously been limited to them. “The right combination of information and communication technology, development of human capacity to take advantage of the full potential of these technologies, and organizational restructuring based on networking becomes the key to ensuring productivity, competitiveness, innovation, creativity, and, ultimately, power and power sharing.”

We have the power. Is this good or bad? In a way I can see network societies as the falling of a wall in that we, inevitably, have access to many people, and sometimes this access can be detrimental. Point in case: “Kate’s party”. Here is an article by news.com.

Kate’s Party hoax takes aim at Facebook privacy

 

A screenshot of the original hoax “Kate’s Party” event on Facebook. It eventually gathered more than 60,000 confirmed guests. Source: news.com.au

ADELAIDE prankster David Thorne says his latest stunt to make waves in the digital world highlights problems with Facebook’s privacy settings.

Thorne last week created a hoax event listing on the social networking site that appeared to be a private birthday party for one “Kate Miller”.

The event was to take place at Miller’s apartment and had, seemingly, been left open to public viewing instead of set to private by accident.

Pretending that he had stumbled across the event, Thorne sent a link to his Twitter followers urging them to “hit attending & give the host an aneurysm”.

More than 60,000 people RSVP’d to the event before it was taken down by Facebook.

Thorne said he created the hoax to show how quickly events could go viral through sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching thousands of people jump in after it,” he told news.com.au.

So we come back to Castells’ final comments: the concept of network society “helps us to define the terms of the fundamental dilemma of our world: the dominance of the programs of a global network of power without social control, or, alternatively, the emergence of a network of interacting cultures, unified by a common belief in the use value of sharing”.

Like anything, some people will abuse the power they have but in the end, I see networks as powerful social structures that allow us, as an ever-growing global society, to deliver and recieve an abundance of information to better understand our own everydaylife and the world (and people) around us.

New and improved- for better or worse?

April 25, 2010

The idea of convergence is assessed in the Jenkins article “Buying into American Idol”. The argument articulated is that “emerging discourse of affective economics has both positive and negative implications”; i.e. that media conglomerates direct consumer knowledge for their own benefits but at the same time this knowledge allows consumers a “collective bargaining structure” that permits them to be shown and use the media in which they favour most.

This makes some sense when you take a look at the reality shows like American Idol. Though a lot of us (myself included) may complain about the stupidity and obvious product placement of these programs, the numbers of people tuning in don’t lie so these shows are given a number of series for the producers and associated advertisers to cash in on. I must admit they I have even tuned in to shows like Big Brother (I am ashamed of it too). I think that these shows allow us to see ourselves in a better light when we see the actions of these “reality stars” and as such makes these shows more popular to boost our own self-esteem. And then when you look at programs like Idol we find ourselves connecting emotionally to the participants, finding those we like and willing them to go as far as we can get them to go, in a sense living through them. Does this mean by tuning in to these reality programs we are losing our own sense of reality? Or is it just us escaping our own lives for those 30-60 minutes?

Here is the recognisable picture most of us know of the guy crying over the media attacks on Britney Spears on you tube. It is great in showing just how much media and its associated identities can impact on an individuals everyday life. 

Jenkins goes on to say that people are changing and controlling the amount and flow of media into their household as a result of changing technology. Like many of us the computer has evolved into our television as well as we can access programs within a desired schedule- just like we read when “my time” was explained. My argument, however, is: do we really have more control? Has convergence allowed a greater space in which media affect and inevitably control our everyday life?

Into The “Mobile” Wild

April 17, 2010

The mobile phone: friend or foe? This highly sought after answer highlights the ambiguous nature that the mobile phone represents to us as a society. Is it intrusive? Does it allow surveillance? Does it intrude our public space and open up our private? Can it makes us breakfast? When you sit down and think about the impact of the mobile phone you find yourself answering “yes” to these questions (except maybe the last one, although you can always call some to bring it for you…)

The Mizuko Ito research “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youths, and the Replacement of Social Contact” allows us an interesting insight into the mobile phone’s role in social hierarchy and inevitably how this media adds more rules for us to follow in its own hierarchal system. The concept of ‘mobility’ (the ability to move through space, in terms of mobile phones- communicative space) is seen as Ito takes us into three separate places: the home, school and transport and how the mobile phone has changed how we mediate our way through these spaces.

He describes how “the phone has always provided a way of overcoming the spatial boundary of the home”, that is, we can stay in contact with others regardless of our physical limitations. He shows how the mobile phone allows teens to “enjoy a sense of co-presence with peers that they are not able to realize physically”. They see it as privacy from the family but you can also hit back at this idea and ask: when do you have privacy from you mobile phone connections? When you’re sleeping? Is that it? Is that all you need?

He also admits the mobile phone is a modern technology to challenge the communication hierarchy i.e. instead of passing notes in class, txt messages are sent instead. We find that the mobile phone is changing relations but merely following them in a different way whilst still respecting social norms (e.g. be silent while the teacher is talking). Except the repercussions of not following these rules can be more damaging than just reading your note to the whole class.

The notion of a mobile phone hierarchy is also highlighted where users have to follow a set of undefined but well known rules – ignoring text messages being a big no no. So we can look at mobility accessed through new technologies to just be adding to our set of social rules in which we follow specific hierarchal ideas, how can we keep up?

Then there is physical mobility in association with communicative mobility (can we call this the tripling of space?). Who can’t say they have been sitting alone at the train station and pull out their phones and send a text message, make a call, or even pretend to take a call? Why do we do this? Ito’s research showed a spike in mobile communication whilst travelling and normally alone. The mobile phone can be seen as a symbol of friendship, of (I’m going to make up a word here) our “un-nigelness”. Is it necessary? Probably not, but we all feel more connected socially by doing it.

The concept of mobility has definitely broadened its horizons as new technologies come in to play a hand but in the end we have to decide – when does it become too much communication? When do we lose all privacy and alone time?

I leave you with this sad thought: raise your hand if you have been on the phone whilst doing the most private of all acts (in my conservative mind) – going to the toilet…

 

 

 

 

MODERN DAY SUPERPOWERS-BILOCATION

March 27, 2010

Can we read minds? Become invisible? Have sharp claws like Wolverine? Unless we are part of the X-men team these abilities seem a little out of reach but after reading this week’s article I have found myself believing we all hold the power of bilocation.

I totally agree with the repetitive nature of this article but I did find it a lot easier to read (and more amusing) then the previous readings we have had. Moore’s reading on the “Doubling of Place” takes Scannell’s concept and relays it in terms of modern media, which is electronic media like internet and telephone (specifically mobile phones) and how these technological changes have assisted in the progression of this concept. He describes similarities in television and radio to “internet and telephone precisely because of the common potential that all these media have for constructing experiences of simultaneity, liveness and ‘immediacy’ in what have been termed ‘non-localised’ spaces and encounters”. I agree with this argument Moore makes as media has created a way for us change our “situational geography”. For e.g. a mobile takes us from our physical location and allows us to hear and speak to someone that is out of our physical hearing vicinity or the television allows us to visualise locations that we may, physically, be unable to go to hence this concept of “doubling of place”. We are able to be in two places at once. This advancement in communicative capabilities is a major asset in assisting our lifestyle but arguably can also be seen as an interruption and can cause changing actions within social situations (which we also addressed in earlier readings).

The examples Moore used I found quite amusing in demonstrating this for e.g. the young woman using her mobile on a train. The norm social interaction of strangers in public spaces is to acknowledge their presence then follow the “conventional ‘courtesy’ of averting the gaze”, we all know the drill. However as the young woman brings her “private” conversation into the public domain a passenger avoids this norm and actually listens to the conversation which then cause the lady to protest “do you mind?! This is a private conversation!” is it? I think you can argue that it is not, as we, the public, cannot block our ears or turn deaf. We are unable to avoid hearing this conversation. But is our new social responsibility to pretend we can’t? And hence brings us back to our changing social environment as a consequence of media and its advancements.

 On the Brightside however I also came to agree with his concepts that media like telephones “are technologies that have clearly helped this stretching or extension of relationships”. In some ways media as caused a “shrinking” of the world as our capabilities of reaching people away from our physical location has become easier. New media like Skype and facebook as well as telephones and television have allowed us to reach greater audiences and allow, in a sense, a global community whereas in the past “community” was often restricted to your geographic location.

Here’s a YouTube clip that explains the Skype process

So once again we come back to the question: Is media an asset or is it a detriment? I think this question has a myriad of answers from both ends of the spectrum and I guess I will just have to wait for the next reading to see if I can make a decision yet.

Like sand in the hour glass so is the media in our lives

March 21, 2010

I’m going to confess that these readings (once broken down and understood) are really beginning to open my eyes to the incredible, and most often subconscious, impact of media on our everyday lives. Claudia, you brought up some really good arguments on the Jenkins and Thorburn reading and your relevant examples were a great in helping me understand so instead I’ll focus my attention on the Scannell reading on “dailiness”.

The concept of time is explored in “Radio, Television and Modern Life” in terms of routine, special events and “everydayness”. The concept of dailiness is described fairly succinctly by Scannell:

 “service is produced everyday (without exception) a routinization of the production of the service is required in such a way that that, precisely, is the outcome”

When you sit down and think about what Scannell is saying you come to realize that your everyday life is often navigated and routinized by the dailiness of media surrounding us like radio. From personal experience I know at 4pm every weekday the Hamish and Andy Show are rearing and ready to broadcast, I also know that when it is summer holidays, reruns of the show will still be playing, 4pm, every time. Does this routine also give u a sense of a comfort? I think in a way it does because when it does change, say a show is cancelled, you feel as if something is missing at this time, until you begin to associate the time with something else.

This idea I see of comfort is further explored when it comes to time associated with everyday “events”. Media often has a role in bringing these events to our attention and often causing us to care for them more than we naturally would be inclined to. Scannell highlights the idea of a “broadcasting calendar” that is “a directedness towards that which is yet to come, thereby giving substance and structure to everyday life”. He goes on to describe that the disturbance of this “patterned regularity” can cause major upsets. It amused me when he used the example of popular TV. programs like “Dr Who” being shifted in their time line-up which can cause pandemonium from the masses. This example reminds me of the uproar that ensued when the popular day time soap “Bold and the Beautiful” changed its timeslot from the afternoon causing many stay at home mum’s to become upset as their schedules and “my-time” had been ruined by the change.

This is an excerpt from a Bold and the Beautiful forum “ I know the time slot is lousy, but you can always record them and watch them But as they have changed the timeslots I can’t really fit it in anymore”

 (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?p=21959843).

Like he claims, schedules in media (like TV. and radio) become a part of people’s everyday lives, become “events” to look forward to and when they are moved around, our schedules become disturbed affecting us personally.

These are the main concepts and ideas I picked up in the reading and personally, I tend to agree with what Scannell has put forward and again I’m hit by the harsh reality that has me seeing the undeniable influence of media over many aspects of our personal lives.

Here it goes… my thoughts on domestication

March 14, 2010

In the reading “Domesticating Domestication. Reflection on the Life of a Concept” by Roger Silverstone, the core argument expressed is the way in which technology (media) has been integrated  into our everyday lives and how it has ultimately assisted in us, as society, having heavily driven consumerist ideals as we see technologies as objects of desire and value.

http://blog.buzzflash.com/files/images/image_13.gif (14/3/2010)  

The steps that make domestication occur include: appropriation as a result of commodification (marketing around media i.e. the tools used to make buyers see an object as something of value, something to be desired), objectification (finding a location within the home), incorporation (how this technology becomes a part of daily routines) and conversion (the technology itself enabling participation in society as a whole e.g. facebook, as well as  taking on an integral role as a part of domestic relations e.g. the control of  TV. remote).

Michael Mike’s theory in “Reconnecting Culture, Technology and Nature” takes this idea of domestication and applies it to his idea that “technology is fundamental in the mediation of human relations; the absence of technology seems odder still”. He goes on to say that technologies have caused the “disembodiment” of humans; we have become “hybrids” with the technologies we rely so heavily on, a clear example being the remote control. This idea is seen consistently in everyday life. Who can say that they haven’t had a near breakdown when they find their mobile phone missing or even in some instances the remote control? I know I have wasted hours over the years searching for the remote when I can just as easily change the channel on the TV itself, but it’s the fact that the remote has become my routine, it and I become one (hybrid) in relation to the TV and this affects the importance of the remote in my everyday life.

http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/aba0712l.jpg (14/3/2010)

I think both readings make valid arguments and illustrate how our consumerist ideals towards media and affectively its popularity have in turn caused an undeniable reliance, something we can’t live without.

So that’s a wrap from me guys, feel free to point out any disagreements with how I have analysed the readings, or if your feeling generous, any ideas u agree with.

Cheers, Alyson