Archive for the ‘Arts1090’ Category

A Retrospective view of Media Ritual

June 9, 2010

When I read the Nick Couldry’s ‘Media Rituals’ 13 odd weeks ago I wrote “Maintenance of societies in time rather than transmission of messages across space” on a post-it note.  At the time I don’t think I completely grasped this concept, that media and communications isn’t just about the sending and receiving of messages but an institution that contributes to the maintenance of our society and culture.

When you think about media being a display of our current reality it worries me to think that in the same way 18th Century letters of past political figures are studies, that perhaps some day our facebook page will be a relic of our time?  While current forms of media such as social networking sites and reality television may be considered low culture in terms of entertainment, it does illustrate a change in the tradition power structure of media of producers and audiences.  If media rituals are going to be a representation of our reality then it seems more accurate now that we more actively participate in that process.

Granted I still feel that we are still acting in a time of functionalism, where we act and adapt to media technologies but with the emerging popularity of YouTube we can start to see media being shaped by the general public.  The way we shape our days and space around the media links us to a sense of society that we otherwise may have missed, but the changes in how we act in that space and time is the start of a shift where it’s not this omnipresent power centre, but a dispersed space of interaction.

Open braket. Close braket.

May 25, 2010

I found this weeks readings a bit all over the place. The majority of first reading focused on the Quantitative methodology of collecting research. This was my personal downfall in the first paper. Not that it necessarily effected my overall mark, but it mean’t that I didn’t get an overall understand of the reasons behind my subjects media use, rather just their uses on a daily basis. So the first reading was lot on me seeing as the second half of the reading was very simple “don’t ask closed end questions if you want a real tangible response” etc etc. It all seems pretty simple.

However, we then got to the juicy stuff! 🙂 The focused outlined in Liamputtong’s writings shows us that we need to make sure that there is a clear orientation of our writing, that we’re writing for a purpose and one that can be clearly explained in qualitative research. And that is what we’re left with, explaining our points clearly. Easy right?

Not so, I agree with Lauren, this could be a really cathartic experience for us in getting the informations we’ve stored and rattled around out of heads and onto paper in, hopefully, eloquently written research report.

Here’s for hoping our subjects don’t kick up a fuss 🙂 I know mine is wearing thin with my probing questions.

Writing towards my own health

May 25, 2010

To be honest I found these readings to be somewhat boring yet at the same time they managed to sufficiently stress me out about this final paper (I guess it is time to put my research and interview down on paper so that maybe someday it will have a lasting impact on the world.) Haha. Well I guess we may not be the famously published writers that will improve public health and welfare through our writings as Liamputtong suggests, but I do appreciate the idea that writing helps us grow. Although it may not impact public health, digesting all the information we have covered this semester into one concise report will definitely help my health. Hopefully the ideas will stop being a jumbled mess all mixed up in my head and rather organize themselves into something that makes sense when put down on paper.

It is also my hope that we will all be able to learn a little about ourselves, and the world around us via this assignment. Liamputtong suggests that writing on what we researched expands our life experiences, in the end teaching us more than we would have learned simply in a classroom. This I wholeheartedly agree with. Although teachers can assign as many readings as they like and lecture for two hours on a topic, I for one, find that I learn the most when I have to apply what has been taught to my own works. Taking the general concepts of the course such as domestication, combining it with research, and producing a work that looks at the big picture impact on society is no easy task. Although finding the big picture of these topics is rather daunting to me currently, I look forward to discovering what they may be.

Throughout the course we have many topics, which I have found to be extremely relevant to my life and generation. I guess in the end, I will come to understand what the impacts of our current media usage on the future of our society, and how this will shape the world. Although I do not know the answers yet, hopefully (before next week!) they will present themselves with the upmost clarity. After all, Liamputtong suggests that writing about my research should cure me of my discouragement and boredom, right? I guess writing this blog I have already been cured of my boredom over the readings, hopefully if I continue on this path I will not face too much discouragement trying to discover the bigger pictures of media, culture and everyday life.

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.

Give me a sign

May 19, 2010

A key point I that I felt was illustrated was that we can make explicit the meaning we want to create through the use of binaries.  For example if someone said the picture a sandwich to me today I would automatically think of the chicken schnitzel sandwich I had as a late night snack last night.  If this person were trying to tell me a sandwich was a healthy choice, in the context of my reality it wouldn’t work –I wouldn’t make the connection.  However if they were to say, “you could eat a greasy Big Mac, on the other hand you could have a sandwich” by explaining what they are not talking about I gain an understanding of what they are trying to convey.

The problem with Saussure’s ideas on semitoics and signs is that he doesn’t take into account that the signified (concerpt being evoked by the signifier) is also a signifier in itself.  If you say cats I think

But then when you think about it that image of a cat can change from person to person and therefore depending on the image evokes a different concept.

I felt that the Lury reading further explored Peirce.

“something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign.”

When doing some further reading on Peirce his ideas involving the connection between a sign, the object and interpretant follow very closely to Saussure it still leaves room for interpretation and context.

I guess essentially signs/logos/language is all about the attempt to control meaning and therefore a power struggle between those conveying a message and those receiving.

Reworking our wiring

May 18, 2010

Like most of you, I found this weeks readings to be very though provoking and insightful. Not only in a linguistics sense but also in human interactivity with the world. Without being too existential, the key idea that I gained from this weeks readings is that perhaps as a society, we have become lazy and rely on the sign to dictate our thinking. We see this so much in the way advertising has infiltrated our lives, no longer do we have to have all three systems of relation in the one ad to understand what is the ad purpose. Nowadays we will just see one of the 3 and understand subconsciously what is being presented to us.

Think of the way that language has evolved. MacDonalds is a universal empire, however we have uniquely taken it’s name and evolved it into our conversational repertoire    – Maccas, MD’s, etc. This is a clear indication of Volosinov’s propositions, particularly that of signs being adaptable and changeable. This video show’s how we are able to so intrinsically take in so much branding without recognising. Lauren might recognise the brands a bit more than us, but you get the gist of it!

However it’s even more dangerous than the infiltration of marketing and branding into our brains constantly. As seen in the Annabelle Lukin reading “Reporting War: grammar as covert operation”, the power of the masses is destabilised through the editing and control of the signified. By controlling the active voice of communication many journalists can dramatically impact transformation of the sign to the signified. The political meaning overlap between this reading and the original Signs and Meaning readings by Shirato+ Yell is seen through the censoring of content, and it’s something that is still very relevant in an age of internet censorship and how the government frames the key concerns of this generation – violence, pornography, fraud, lack of morality and a constant lack of privacy . It’s a bit scary to see how this impacts us so easily every day. But we have such limited control over any of it.

Happy pondering all.

A sign of the meaning

May 18, 2010

Shirato & Yell’s reading, signs and meaning, was one that i thoroughly enjoyed due to the simple yet paradoxical nature of their points. The reading explores what and how we take meaning from the signs (images, ads, actual signs, situations) around us.

I personally believe, as the authors have pointed out, that it really is all about context. A stop sign tghat we see on the street carries the meaning that we associate with it on the street. For instance, if we were to see that exact sign say… on the toilet, it carry a similiar meaning but be entirely different, due to the context. one of the definitions that the reading points out is:

“contexts are never identical for, or completely shared by, particpants.”

So every situation we see around us carries seemingly similar meaning, yet differs in an almost infinite number of possibilities. The authors of the article discuss Saussure, which this video covers quite well:

I think to simply this morning and recognise, like the example used in the piece (the ‘violence’ example) that words can take entirely different meanings. Tony Abbot’s gaffe about his remarks in ‘heated or robust discussion’ have stirred the media and in reality voters to question the validity of all of his responses. the words he used, would they be used in a different context, would take on the meaning of someone merely admitting a mistake. however, as the authors concluded:

  1. words do not function as labels that can be unproblematically attached to things or acts or experiences;

What we ordinarily define as a ‘sign’ is simply a static form of communication. all communicating, whether be by language, body language, viral, signs, etc etc etc etc, carries a unique set of meanings that we associate to each part of the equation. The responder communicates by sending data (hand signals, words, facial expressions) and the respondee interprets this data against the set of meanings normally associated with it. It all sounds very digital and unhuman but seems the easiest way of metaphorically describing the communication between two humans (ironic hey). to end i’ll leave you guys with a little abstract video about semiotics.

*tip: read into the meaning whatever you want

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.

Why is Milk Called Milk?

May 18, 2010

To be honest I found this reading to be one of the most interesting to date. It reminds me of all those times when you are having a conversation, and a word gets repeated one too many times, and then everyone stops to think about how unusual the word really is. For example, the other week my roommates and I were talking about milk. A normal, everyday, product somehow became the center of our discussion when we discussed the proper pronunciation which then led to the “what a weird word, I wonder where it came from” comment.

In both the Schirato and Yell article, Communication and Cultural Literacy: An Introduction and the Clark article, The Linguistics of Blame, I found the notion of violence in relation to language to be extremely interesting. Schirato and Yell’s argument that words can adapt new meanings based on context is something I had never really given much thought to before, but it is so true.  Changing the tone or context of a word allows the speaker to convey many different messages. The Simpson example is so prevalent to our media and use of words today- what is violence? Our definitions differ greatly depending on each person. It is also rather intimidating that these words can be portrayed to be much worse (or more mild) depending on the speaker. For example, the “violence” of the British against the aboriginal people was down played to simply helping out the “savages.” Although to many people this would appear to be a highly inaccurate description of the events that occurred, to those who had no prior knowledge of the events this may be accepted as fact.

The Yell article also brings up some interesting points about how we can use words to convey messages in many different ways. The example given of naming an attacker in either a sub-human way (beast, monster, ripper, etc) or allowing the attacker basic human acknowledgement (name, address) was rather interesting. The media has a great tendency to use words to make stories gripping, terrifying, and intriguing. Since we wrote our first fairy tale we have been programmed to use descriptive words to make stories more interesting, and that  is obviously what the media does, yet have they taken it too far in some instances.

Finally, it seems that in these instances the words are doing more damage than good. I know if I read the story of a “monster prowling the streets” I would be terrified to take out my trash. Similarly, if I read about how the British came to Australia to help the savages I may be viewed as naïve and ignorant in the ways to the world. Yet how can I help but believe some of these stories- they are rather compelling right? In all it is rather intimidating to think about the grip words and language has over us, and it all comes from some dairy farmer naming milk milk.

I leave you with this video, at first you think the mother and daughter are having a typical fight over cell phones- listen closely to the words though and you will be surprised!

Who is watching you?

May 12, 2010

I finally just finished 1984 and it seems highly appropriate when considering ways to monitor audiences these days.  The moment you actively realise how diverse the term ‘media’ is the more you realise how surrounded you are by it.  The problem in monitoring audiences when the media is so diffused is that out attention becomes the commodity, and unlike dollars and cents it’s impossible to measure. is a fantastic blog that I think truly illustrates the notion that we are all performers if we so choose.

Despite me saying this, I don’t feel as if the power is as evenly distributed as Couldry would have us believe.  Taking into account Foucault’s conception of power I do think as an audience with the technology available we have a lot of potential power but when you consider the dominating strength of the mainstream, I don’t believe we are taking advantage of it.  Instead of focusing on T.V I think music is a huge example of this.  In 2007 The Presets performed a free show at the Roundhouse to a disinterested crowd for a uni event.  Less than 2 years later the very same band played a sold out show in the same venue.  People paid money.  We had the technology and the means to know who they were, and yet it wasn’t until they were recognised by the powers of the mainstream (traditional media forms – T.V and Radio) until they were truly appreciated.

Since doing my assignment and monitoring the life of an alternative 20-something year old living out of home, I would have suggested a belief in the downfall of mass media.  She doesn’t own a T.V and watches what she wants online.  But living at home with my parents and watching facebook and twitter updates during the week still showed most of the people I know were watching Masterchef on commercial television.  Sad truth.  Maybe it’s a matter of generation X vs Y?

Just a little fact (ok so I’m using the word fact very loosely) before I leave you: 1 in 4 Americans have been on T.V.