MEASURING THE SPACE BETWEEN INSTAGRAM AND REAL LIFE- PART TWO

As part of my final compilation post for BCM240 I decided to restrict myself from the use of social media (especially Instagram and Facebook).

This may be seen as an unambiguous way to finalise a research project, it will all become clearer in my concluding reflection post.

However, this mode of research is a big part of my study. As previously addressed in PART ONE of my research the ‘big social media players’ in my life are there as an effective way to boost my ego. In saying this, to round up my project ‘Instagram Interaction’ I wanted to draw myself away from the platform.

This may not seem like a large measure to take in terms of research, however when I checked the statistics of my social media use I was proven otherwise.  I have used an app called Followers+ which tells you the analytics of your Instagram account. I was very much surprised to see that I had uploaded 3.1 photos per week.

With this information I decided that I wanted to break from this idea of social approval and addiction to social media for at least one week to experience the space between Instagram and real life.

RESULTS

Every living day the moment I wake I turn to my charging Iphone, unlock it and begin checking every single social media account I have. Beginning with the most influential social media platform in my life, Instagram. Taking myself away from this luxury was seemingly difficult. Despite making sure I restricted myself from uploading posts, I still found myself wanting to scroll through the thousands and thousands of photos posted everyday.

The overall momentum was this anxious feeling of me wanting to continue to use the app whenever I was bored, alone or just plain had a moment to spare (how wasteful when you think about it ).

This mini research ties in with my project as it helped me understand ‘Instagram Interaction’ from the dimension of the audience or from those who perceive. I realise from this that I have an addiction to the luxury, successful and painted lives that people live in the small window that we see through the Instagram square.

What I mean by ‘the dimensions of the instagram square’…

The 612 by 612 pixels square that we all see everyday of our lives. What is the true meaning of this space and the limits of what we don’t see beyond the square?  

These are all examples of my own Instagram posts, they are here to support my argument of ‘Instagram Interaction’.

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  1. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

A perfectly (strategically) neat set out table of food, with the right amount of lighting.

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

The ‘holiday’ referred to in the caption was in fact one of the worst I’ve had. Terrible, terrible storms forced us to stay inside the whole time. Not to mention the lighting only looks good because there’s a filter making it brighter.

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(I am hesitant to categorise this photo with the rest as Italy truly is beautiful, however there really is more than meets the Instagram square)

2.  WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

The most beautiful angle in Italy. Sitting in a gondola, lapping up the sun, whilst peering out at some of the oldest buildings in the city of Venice.

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

Weather 40+ degrees

Disgusting smell

Gross water

Packed and crowded streets

There is one thing to note that throughout this entire gondola ride, although looking back now is very much appreciated, was spent wishing we could get off because the sun and heat was overbearing. It was also cut short because of this.

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3. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

A seemingly candid photo that has my arm, a watermelon juice and my contiki booklet all sprawled out on a colourful sarong. So naturally beautiful, right?

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

Wrong. My watermelon juice went warm within minutes of being in the 37 degree heat. I was burnt within seconds. It was windy that day so when I lay down the sand whipped me and lastly I took over 20 photos all whilst trying to avoid other beach goers catching me out. I stayed for literally 5 minutes. Throw a filter over the top and all appears fine.

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4. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

Square aesthetics featuring my legs, so creative..

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

This was inside a dingy bar’s bathroom.

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5. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

Beautiful blue skies, nails elongating my fingers and a generic Voss bottle filled with fruit.

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

I was laying on my driveway between my cars, the nail that appears in the photo was the only one that looked this good, it was a hot day so the water went warm and by the time I got halfway through drinking it the fruit tasted horrible inside the bottle.

As you can see with the above examples the Instagram square can easily block the space between reality.

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EVOLUTION BRINGS NEW TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP?- COMPUTER LOVE

The notion of ‘the internet of things’ or otherwise known as IOT has allowed me to understand humanity’s relationship with technology. Funded in 1999, with the work of two Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] research labs: the Auto-ID Center and the MIT Media Lab the term defines the way objects are gaining a connection with humans. When I say connection, I mean it in the most literal sense.

It’s the one you spend time with with more than any other and has intensified even more over the years that you’ve grown together. When you’ve had a bad day it’s the one you turn to. You take your anger out on it but you’re willing to spend as much time trying to fix things. They’re there for you morning, noon and night. They’re your computers, your internet, your phones, your technological devices.

The question is … how serious can this relationship be?

Robert Weiss, sex and relationship expert says a man really can fall in love with a computer and have a healthy relationship. Personally, I don’t reject this idea entirely. As he argues this IS ‘evolution’ and the more we rely on our devices the more comfortable and happy we become.

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However, from the perspective of our devices love is more than likely not on the cards. How could it be? When all we are to them is a data stream. Yes, they aggregate the information WE give them. Essentially all this means is that the device is a good listener (if only all significant others worked this way) and has a continuous collection of who we are where we are and what is happening.

What does IOT mean for the future of human social interaction and experience of place? As Weiss (2014) argues relationships mean different things to different people. I am a true believer of an open mind and if this ‘evolution’ brings a new type of relationship along with Generation Z’s labels of Gen WII and iGeneration then I am willing to support this.

No matter how big or small, OPM or Bieber

The idea of ‘hacking’ in cyberspace where content is constantly accumulating our online identities is one scary thought. Put it this way, how do you legislate a hacker who is essentially one step ahead of you in terms of technological advancement? According to Apple’s senior vice president Jeffery Williams distributed network control over the ‘bad guys’- hackers is a ‘faulty assumption’.

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We are living in 2015 where scandals that data is leaked online are happening everyday. This idea highlights what Ted (2015) argues is an ‘unpredicted situation’, when nodes are in control and broadcasting to an entire network. We don’t know which direction it can take us, therefore cybersecurity and government control is essentially… meaningless. Take the recent OPM breach that resulted in millions of people having their personal information exposed or there’s the attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network where 24.6 million customers’ private data was stolen, or compare those with Justin Bieber’s recent nude photo scandal. They all pose similar concerns. The right to privacy no longer exists and I believe this is because there just isn’t enough focus on the attacker themselves. In saying that, the online security sector so far this year has said to have raised more than $2.3 billion. However, the real question is why do the majority of us feel so safe when in fact the large volume of data that makes up our online identity is at risk?

I like idea of our new community being the metaphor of the electronic frontier. Where the people populating cyberspace are the cowboys. There is something legendary about being in the midst of a new frontier. We are experiencing a space where anything and everything is possible and that often means crime is involved. Cybercrime to be exact.

Something I strongly believe government’s need to put into place is a transparent model of the internet. Whereby, hackers are so purposefully exposed that the term no longer exists. Nonetheless, no matter how big or small, OPM or Bieber, negative or positive the hacking world is one that simply throws our distributed network into a spin and it’s something only the new frontier can bring.

This video brings together both the good and bad of hacking that I have addressed in my last two blogs and as a result uses the statement ‘hacker rehab’! Have a look !

MY BCM240 RESEARCH- PART ONE

Title… 

INSTAGRAM INTERACTION

This is an insight into the thoughts behind the structure of my digital storytelling project for BCM240.

My first thoughts…

The project began when I started to think about what media, audience and place means to me personally. I realised in terms of media, that my ideas are changing. The reason the once ‘big social media players’ in my life were there were to boost my ego. It was a new and exciting way to distort an image the way I wanted my audience to see it. It is said by Lasen and Gomez-Cruz that the convergence of digital cameras has contributed to the ‘redefinition of public and private and the transformation of their boundaries’. I want to build on this thought by looking at my own photo posts on Instagram and explaining the truth behind what I felt at that time, where I was and when, how I was positioned and why I posted the photo at that moment.

This idea stemmed from…

There are a number of other ideas that have influenced this form of research. Here are some…

1.’The ‘Truth’ Behind Those Amazing Instagram Pics. Can You Handle This?’
http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/the-truth-behind-those-amazing-instagram-pics-can-you-handle-this-1217927

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This is an example of the photo series which takes a look into the small Instagram window which we peer into people’s lives everyday.

2. Basics Creative Photography 03: Behind the Image: Research in Photography
 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Basics-Creative-Photography-03-Research/dp/2940411662

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My inspiration came when I read the statement ‘Through reflection and evaluation we look at how all aspects of research can contribute to the realization of a dynamic body of work that brings a whole new dimension to an image’

3. I think this GIF is self explanatory..

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4.  Looking at the meaning of Instagram: Mini-documentary
 http://connect.dpreview.com/post/1219456590/mini-do-instagram-is

Lastly, this mini documentary is probably the biggest influence to my idea. It is an insight into why people use Instagram as a way to ‘connect to the world and each other’.

The theme for this project…

The theme of this project is the influence spatiality has on the dimension of an image and how in turn this effects the way an audience perceives this image.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this idea or any alterations I could make 🙂

HACKING A HACKER’S MIND

When we think of hacking, we have an instant negative reaction. You’d be forgiven for thinking this, as society deems the word ‘hack’ as bad. However, hacktivism is being carried out as a way to claim back the distributed network. With the digital era continually advancing there is evidence of limited control in the hacking world. The question is whether or not it is being used by the right people.

An example showing both a negative use of hacking and a positive is an article by renowned hactivists, Anonymous that claims ‘Edward Snowden Says One Text Can Hack Smartphones’. The post shows Snowden’s knowledge of the Government’s alleged techniques to spy on citizens.  It is evident in this blog that the hacker subculture can be used in different forms- control/ power, anarchism, resistance, playfulness and activism. In Snowden’s case he uses it as a response of political activism vs. Government control/ power.

However, this is not to say that playful forms of hacking don’t have negative responses. This year the world saw the infamous Avid Life Media’s website Ashley Madison, hacked. This resulted in personal account information like e-mail addresses from 32 million of the site’s members being revealed online. These attackers are the whistle-blowers of the public sphere, bringing moral resistance to the forefront. They claimed they had two motivations behind the hacking scandal, first criticizing ‘Ashley Madison’s core mission of arranging affairs between married individuals. Second, they’ve attacked Ashley Madison’s business practices, in particular its requirement that users pay $19 for the privilege of deleting all their data from the site (but, as it turns out, not all data was scrubbed).’

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Both these examples are evidence of the power that new technological advancement is threatening censorship and online regulation. When we compare the two forms of hacking what do we see? We see new networking models being developed. Benkler (2011) says these examples force us to ‘ask us how comfortable we are with the actual shape of democratization created by the Internet.’

This is true, hactivists are showing a new form of political resistance. They are contributing to a world where internet censorship could be non-existent. The thought of this world is scary, yet thrilling and the more it exposed the greater the support from the community it will receive.

Resources:

Benkler, Y. (2011) ‘A free irresponsible press: Wikileaks and the battle over the soul of the networked fourth estate’, [pp. 1-33]

BCM240 REFLECTION ON BLOGGING

Last year, if you were to take one glance at my online writing skills as a first year journalism and media and communications student you would have cringed. As insightful as they were, there was no depth or evidence within my blog posts and the worst part of all…I had no voice. This blog post is going to reflect the progress of me finding my blogging identity over the past few weeks.

The more immersed I became in my digital media subjects, the more I began to learn the logistics behind blogging, developing an online presence and connecting with audiences. Connecting with audiences has been my most major goal this semester due to contributing to my digital artefact on Youtube vlogging. It was during this experience that I began reading article upon article in order to find what was restricting my blogs. I came across this style guide by mail chimp. Although excessive for a student blogger, there are valid points addressed. The blog helped me in finding what style of voice in which I wished to convey. Knowing the exact style and a way to describe the way my work sounds has helped me to sustain it. I believe that the best part about my writing voice would be honesty, approachability and I would hope it is somewhat informative. I learnt that having a voice can also attract certain niche audiences which works in your favour as a blogger.

Another element I believe has shaped my blogging experienced is the way I have made myself love the lecture content by applying it to things I enjoy. It is easy to write about things you care about, therefore when integrating it with the BCM240 lecture information makes it much easier to put it into practice. This is evident in my blog post which I used my favourite hobby, Yoga, as a contrast of multitasking in a world where technological devices are providing us with ways to fit more into our lives. As we are currently studying the ethnographic research behind new media I was able to explore other corners of the blogosphere. This meant understanding the findings behind ideas such as space and censorship in ways which I would have never thought of. Keeping an open mind when blogging always helps when it is conveyed to the audience.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A BLOG POST IS AND YOU’VE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS CLICK HERE. 

Blogging is a two-way experience, this means the writer corresponds with their audience and the audience reflects for the writer, this is seen when readers leave comments. I am one to take criticism to heart and one thing I have learnt since blogging for BCM is to change this by taking criticism constructively, as this is a big part of successful blogging.  The fact of the matter is, as an online blogger you’re instantly open to criticism through your comment sections on your social media pages. This blog post allowed me to understand that ‘honest feedback’ is beneficial as it strengthens the bond you have with your readers. I applied it when reading my comments as it allowed me to adapt on the necessary changes along with noting the things I did successfully, even if it meant asking people in the comments what they meant.

Another big contributing factor to my progress of finding my blogging identity was marketing your blog across all media platforms. Whether it be through linking or hashtagging I learnt through this blog post that each platform has a way of promoting content that you must take into consideration. It suggests sharing important tweets four times a day in order to cover these time differences and works across all platforms. With experience in Youtube I have found no issue with the marketing side of the platform however since blogging realized this is proven a lot more difficult. I believe this comes back to the fact we live in an attention deficit economy where time is valuable. This is why generating engaging content when blogging is the key to success.

Lastly, the most effective practice I have used to form my online writing identity is reading out loud. What is worse than reading back on old work to find none of it made any sense? Your audience reading your new work and it doesn’t make any sense. One of my worst habits is being completely ambiguous. This is because I assume the audience has a pre-existing knowledge of what I am talking about. Therefore, when reading your writing aloud it helps to place you in your audience’s position. This particular blog has helped me achieve this. To conclude the blog in two short sentences ‘don’t confuse your reader stick to one idea at a time and round up your messages at the end.’. As we are researching the factors of the attention economy it is important to note that being concise in your wording is crucial. Readers will only read work depending on the substance of the content. That’s not to say a long blog post won’t be engaging, as long as the content makes sense to them.

Overall, my blogging experience for BCM240 has been exciting, I love being at the forefront of the new digital age. Every time I write a new blog I feel as if I learn more factors to improve on the one before. Learning my blogging voice was the first step to giving me confidence to explore the networking world further. I believe constructing an online identity is one of the most important aspects to high quality content that engages readers.  In saying this, there are obstacles, because as I mentioned this is concept is new. We are continually learning and that’s the exciting part about the online network. Blogging has allowed me to become a better writer and more aware of my online audience in a way that motivates me to take this into a career opportunity.

PARTICIPATING IN PERSUADING PROTEST

In Australia we believe we are living in a comfortable, democratic society and find it hard to comprehend otherwise. It is easy for us to use connectivity to broadcast our own thoughts and messages through social media in a way that is considered activism. Just by looking back on recent hashtags such as #refugeeswelcome, #lovewins and #Ferguson we see how social media power can enhance organisation and control of revolutionary movements.  However, some argue that ‘today’s cyber-utopians need to log off their Facebook accounts and try a little harder.’

One example of someone who has proven to do this is ‘Syrian Girl’, a Youtube activist who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and argues ‘we think we are living in a Democracy but we really aren’t.’ She says the reason why she created the Youtube channel was because ‘at the beginning of the Arab Spring everybody thought it was pro democracy uprising and it was going to be great. But in reality I knew that protesters, a lot of them had Muslim brotherhood backgrounds in politics which means there was great potential for extremism. There was a lot of Syrian people that were opposed to what was going on in Syria and I found that wasn’t really being portrayed in the media.’

Despite being extremely convincing, this is an individual opinion of which can be proven difficult to persuade entire government decisions. For example, The first Bersih rally held in 2007 was no where near as successful compared to the previous campaigns mentioned. This is because the legacy media stopped anything from being posted about the rally as the government didn’t agree with it.

As Ted (2015) argues ‘participation is addictive’. Social media is considered a place to reflect what we believe and we well and truly believe this. The importance of the internet is that it gives the opportunity for each and every node to broadcast to mass audiences. The openness of this network gives those with a political opinion a platform to voice events or for those who can not broadcast messages critical of the government.

Overall, the use of social media hashtags and activism is used to raise awareness. Whether it be positive or negative the trending movements threaten legacy media in the way that they expose uncensored and personalised information.