An autoethnographic response to State of Play

When I first heard the term Autoethnography I will admit I was worried such a big word could only mean lots of hard work. Researching more into the word through the readings by Ellis, Adams and Bochner (2011) I learnt that “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al. 2011, pg. 1).

Essentially a researcher makes themselves the subject of research by using their own thoughts, feelings and observations. First analysis comes from observations and then moves internally into thoughts and feelings about these observations.

My first autoethnographic experience occurred in the tutorial this week ran by Chris. We were shown a documentary called ‘State of Play’ which focused around competitive gaming and specifically a popular video game Star Craft. The film followed Lee Jae Dong a professional gamer, ParkYo Han a school student wanting to become semi pro and Kim Joon Hyuk a semi-professional gamer hoping to make a professional career out of playing.

My experience with Asian is not limited as I lived in Hong Kong for a while as a kid. However the South Korean culture especially around professional gaming was quite a shock. For my first autoethnographic experience I recorded notes during the film in my workbook.

  • Professional players live together in a house with up to 14 players under the one roof. Is this to reinforce teamwork or for economic needs (cheaper?)
  • Players train 10-12 hours a day on Star Craft which is an insane amount of screen time surely headaches and RSI play a part in the long term?
  • Players are celebrities – live broadcast on television channel, commentators, sponsors, fans (mostly women), even hairdressers.
  • Big gender difference – men play and women can be involved but only as fans.
  • After tournaments women line up and wait to present gifts to their favourite players
  • Players have their hair cut and styled before every tournament (despite them all having the same bowl haircut).
  • Player carry a keyboard around in a specific keyboard backpack – tools of the trade.
  • Korean culture is very minimalistic players don’t own many possessions and sleep on thin mats instead of in beds – this was very interesting to note.
  • Following Kim Joon Hyuk when he first is inducted into the house as a professional player there is a hierarchy. He starts at the bottom and must clean up and help prepare meals so the other players will accept him.
  • In Korean culture it must not be rude to sleep whilst someone is talking as there are numerous shots of students in the classroom fast asleep and players in the convention centre sleeping whilst being presented to.
  • Players are high skilled in their e-sport and possess high concentration levels and sharp reflexes which is measured in clicks and keyboard actions
  • Players have limited social life this is highlighted by Lee Jae Dong when he says “all my friends go to school and have girlfriends, maybe im wasting my time”.
  • Father figures in Korea similar to Australian fathers. Fathers questions their sons careers in E-sports and don’t necessarily accept it as a legitimate career.

I found State of Play to be an exceptional documentary which highlighted South Korean culture and the rise of e-sports. With e-sports now huge globally it was fascinating to see where it all began.

Reference List

Ellis, C, Adams, TE & Bochner, AP 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, pp.1-12.

“Social Experiments”

The topic for this week was focused around poverty porn. Yes you heard that right. An official definition of poverty porn is producing objectifying images of the poor for privileged gratification (Threadgold, 2015). To put this in Lehman’s terms it’s essentially any type of media which shows lower socio-economic or disadvantaged people which in turn generates an emotional response for wealthier people. Poverty porn is all around us used by charity and non for profit organisations (images of sick, malnourished children), television shows (struggle street, swift and shift) and social experiments.

With the rise of social media there has been a new-found love of social experiments. Don’t get me wrong social experiments have been around for years one of the most famous being the Stanford Prison Experiment however now these experiments can now be shared online. The main aim of social experiments is to explain how thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by the presence of others (Blakstad, 2008).

HOWEVER

In case you hadn’t noticed, poverty is entertaining (Threadgold, 2015). I searched into YouTube “social media poverty” and clicked on the first video. It is a social experiment about a child being homeless in the Unites States. The video had 21,956,435 views and 679,357 likes at the time.

 

social media experiment 2

This video was created by well-known YouTube star fouseyTUBE and was a completely staged experiment. He hired a young boy as an actor to go and beg on the streets in America with a sign that reads ‘I just want enough to get my sister a meal’. He then filmed the reactions of pedestrians and made judgement on whether they donated money or not.

There is one main problem with these social experiments. They are staged. The boy is an actor as well as the majority of passer-by’s are also in on the video. This isn’t the first time a staged social experiment has occurred. Australian YouTube personality Adrian Gee performed an honesty test where he pretended to be a blind man asking for change to see whether people would provide the correct change. The video went viral quickly however came under scrutiny when the people featured in the film confessed to being actors (Noble 2015).

Staged social experiments such as Gee and fouseyTUBE’s videos trivialise these actual incidents. Roenigk (2014) concludes this point perfectly stating that ‘poverty is a result of both individual and systemic problems, involving not only personal circumstances but the social and justice systems in place that either work to empower the poor or perpetuate their condition. However, poverty porn defines poverty as merely the observable suffering resulting from a simple lack of material resources’.

“Poverty as merely the observable suffering from a simple lack of material resources” both these video display this, the homeless child without money and the blind man without sight. Social media can have positive impact on poverty around the world however viewers must be able to distinguish between what is true poverty and what is poverty porn designed to attract viewers and subscribers.

 

Reference List:

Blakstad O. 2008, Social Psychology Experiments, Explorable, viewed 18 March 2016, https://explorable.com/social-psychology-experiments

Noble F. 2015, Oh the irony! Viral social experiment which ‘tested’ people’s honesty is exposed as a HOAX.. and everyone involved in the video was an actor, Daily Mail, viewed 18 March 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3321398/Viral-social-experiment-tested-people-s-honesty-revealed-HOAX.html

Roenigk E. 2014, 5 reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person, one, viewed 18 March 2016, http://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/

Stanek B. 2014, The Big Problem With All of Those Viral ‘Social Experiment’ Videos, Mic, 24th November, viewed 18 March 2016, http://mic.com/articles/104986/the-big-problem-with-all-of-those-viral-social-experiment-videos#.x6vQTkrVB

Threadgold S. 2015, Struggle Street is poverty porn with an extra dose of class racism, The Conversation, viewed 18 March 2016, http://theconversation.com/struggle-street-is-poverty-porn-with-an-extra-dose-of-class-racism-41346

 

The Selfie Revolution

Selfie: a self-portrait made in a reflective object or from an arm’s length

According to Radulova (2015) the word selfie gained international attention when it was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year in 2013. The origin of the word however originated in Australia. It was first shared on an ABC forum by Australian man Nathan Hope, who shared an image of his cut lip in 2002.

blog 1 busted lip

(Source: http://goo.gl/JiPXIc)

Since then the selfie has erupted all over social media and is now a commonly found on most social media sites. The question that arises from the selfie taking saga is does the selfie stem from an obsession with looking at ourselves? Being in the main demographic age for selfie takers I decided to look back through my Facebook to see how many selfie’s I had posted. None. However! I have been tagged in selfies with friends. Does this mean I have an obsession with myself?

Maybe?

Personally I believe the selfie is not a reflection of an obsession with our self but rather a means to increase our social media status.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat all these apps are used for sharing information and photos online. Whilst photo sharing is an important feature of these social networks sites the emphasis is on social status. By social status I mean “what your peers think of you, whether they hold you in esteem or contempt, and the privileges that accord from this position” (Marwick 2013, pg. 74). Facebook has ‘Likes’ and ‘Friends, Instagram has ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ and Snapchat has ‘Best Friends’ and ‘Snapchat Score’. The higher your snap score and the more friends and followers you have determines your social media status. Posting a selfie online whether it’s a funny selfie or mirror selfie is an act to increase your social media status.

blog 1 new fb friends

(Source: http://cdn.meme.am/instances/59834457.jpg)

With this focus on social media status and having the largest possible following users of social media must ask themselves whether or not they are being controlled by the medium? Facebook lets you ‘un tag’ a photo however you cannot delete this photo if it is not yours. Snapchat is slightly different because it automatically deletes a photo after the time limit set expires making users feel “safer”. However is snapchat really a medium in which you’re safe? Yes the photo expires after the time limit however recipients can easily screenshot the photo without your permission.

Madden et al. (2013) explored teenager’s social media use and their privacy settings. She concluded that whilst teenagers take a public approach to social media they also employ different steps that restrict and crop their profiles. This is a promising sign however 91% post a photo of themselves, 71% post their school name, 71% post the city or town where they live, 53% post their email address and 20% post their cell phone number.

20% post their phone number! That’s crazy! You need to chill out and go back to taking selfies.

 

Reference List:

Madden M., Lenhart A., Cortesi S., Gasser U., Duggan M., Smith A., Beaton M., 2013, ‘Teens, Social Media, and Privacy’, Pew Research Centre, accessed 9/03/2016, http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/05/21/teens-social-media-and-privacy/

Radulova L. 2015, ‘Australia revealed to have invented the word ‘selfie’ as more than 2000 Aussie phrases and words are added to Oxford Dictionaries’, Daily Mail, accessed 9/03/2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3061118/Australia-revealed-invented-word-selfie-2000-Aussie-phrases-words-added-Oxford-Dictionaries.html

 

The internet of things – Having your house connected to the internet

The term Internet of Things (iot) was coined in 1999 at the MIT Media Lab and it simply means physical objects that are connected to the internet. The more in depth definition of IOT is that it is the network of physical objects that is embedded with electronics or software that enables the object to collect and exchange data. Its aim – to improve efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Teodor Mitew in his video series explains the concept of IOT further if you are interested in an in depth look at the concept.

My understanding of the Internet of Things is that due to the ever increasing work done by Apple, Google and even Samsung everyday items are becoming more and more advanced. Take for example your fridge can now come with built in phones so that you can dial your family whilst cooking. Essentially all the appliances in your house can be connected to each other and the internet and you would not have to ‘command’ any of them. Seems like a good idea right?

The downside of having your whole house connected to the internet is the same as having your laptop connected to the internet. Viruses and hackers would now be able to control your whole house and not just your computer.

Is having your whole house connected worth the risk of having it infected?

Preview

Reference List:

Bleecker, J 2006, Why Things Matter: A manifesto for networked objects – cohabiting with pigeons, arphids and aibos in the internet of things, accessed 23rd October 2015,nearfuturelaboratory.com/files/WhyThingsMatter.pdf –

Mitew, T 2014, Do objects dream of an internet of things?, The Fibreculture Journal, issue 23 2014, accessed 23rd October 2015, twentythree.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-168…things/

Dark Hacktivism and LulzSec

Continuing on with my previous blog posts about the topic of Hacktivism, in 2011 a dark hacktivist group calling themselves ‘LulzSec’ were formed from private online chat rooms and from the Anonymous forum. The name LulzSec was derived from ‘lulz’ meaning laughs and ‘sec’ meaning security this essentially meant that LulzSec would hack into secure companies, expose their security flaws and share their data. Throughout their short time LulzSec managed to hack major companies including Fox.com, Nintendo, PBS, Sony PlayStation Network and Bethesda Studios. LulzSec was eventually arrested after front runner ‘Sabu’ acted as an informant for the FBI.

However despite their hacking LulzSec are considered very small sale hackers when compared with hackers such as Michael Calce, Edward SnowdenJonathan James and Kevin Mitnick, LulzSec’s action were relatively harmless and didn’t result in government secrets being leaked or mass credit cards being stolen.

Take a look at this Prezi which delves further into Calce, Snowden, James and Mitnick and their hacking exploits

https://prezi.com/pzljrukz53hz/famous-hackers/

NB: If you are worried about being attacked online give this article by Jeff Goldman a read.

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/how-to-avoid-a-hacktivist-attack.html

Reference List:

Arthur C 2013, ‘LulzSec: what they did, who they were and how they were caught,’ theguardian.com, accessed 12th October 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/may/16/lulzsec-hacking-fbi-jail

Hacktivism and Anonymous

This week follows on from my previous post about Clicktivism, Slacktivism and Activism. Whilst online activism is still a highly debate topic as to whether or not it promotes chance the stigma around it is largely positive. This week I will be looking at the more negatively portrayed Hacktivism.

According to Techopedia (2015) “Hacktivism is the act of hacking a website or computer network in an effort to convey a social or political message”. This act is closely likened to a hacker who intends to steal private information or cause harm however it is on a much larger scale and aims to disruptive activities or highlight political or social causes (Techopedia 2015).

For the purpose of this blog I will be focusing on the largest and most well-known Hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’.  Anonymous are a loosely organised group of young computer experts once focused just on Internet freedom, but have since turned to more menacing attacks, including not only paralysing websites but breaking in to steal data (Bryan-Low 2011). They have divided their efforts into numerous campaigns including; ISIS, the Klu Klux Klan, Sarah Palin and even the United State Government (Occupy Wall Street).

For further information on Anonymous refer to this Prezi:

https://prezi.com/_tywkuiryf3p/anonymous/

Reference List:

Brown, M 2013, ‘The Ideology of Hacking’, Computer Weekly, July, accessed 7th October 2015, http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240187846/The-ideology-of-hacking

Bryan-Low, C. & Gorman, S. 2011, ‘Inside the Anonymous Army of ‘Hacktivist’ Attackers’, Wall Street Journal, New York, accessed 6th October 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304887904576399871831156018

Techopedia 2015, Hacktivism, accessed 6th October https://www.techopedia.com/definition/2410/hacktivism

Reflecting on the Semester and Blog changes

BCM 240.

Another subject where regular blogging was required and where yet again I would return to my WordPress account. In previous subjects where I was required to blog I had kept it fairly simple by obeying the subject criteria and posting relevant content each week. Blogging what a piece of cake right? Oh how this all changed..

At the beginning of the session our first task for BCM 240 changed the way I blogged. I was no longer being marked on purely the content, I was now being marked on my blog as a whole. My writing was published in a public domain which was accessible to anyone that googled my name, read my tweets or found me on WordPress through my hashtags. My blog therefore needed a revamp.

For the purpose of this reflection I have decided to focus this post around five main points. My first point which I wanted to reflect on is the reminder that all your work published on WordPress is online. This is reiterated by Couts (2011) who states that anything posted online will be online forever and everyone can see you work. This quickly put into perspective that future employers will be reading my blog. Not only did this mean that my grammar needed to be checked but I also needed to be careful about what I posted online. In my work I made sure to use numerous academic sources to back up any claims which I may have made. This use of fact checking I believe is vital when blogging as it adds quality and a more professional aspect to your blog. I wanted my blog to be as engaging as possible whilst also maintain a professional standard. This meant finding a balance between academic writing and content that keeps the audience reading.

My second point reflects on my writing style online.

“Some of us are natural writers. They are able to write an attractive, fun, and readable text in a matter of minutes. Others lack that skill” (van de Rakt 2014).

Unfortunately I lack that skill however van de Rakt (2014) has two very useful tips which helped my blogging. The first is to read a lot! Before I would publish my blog I would always look on the #BCM240 twitter page and the WordPress feed to gauge how others felt about the topic. I was also following numerous students’ blogs who were enrolled in BCM240 and would read through their content as well. However the most useful tool was a Facebook group chat between Jesse, Matthew, Tom and I who were all in the same tutorial. We would share each other’s posts and discuss the topic. Each member of the group had different ideas and thoughts which all helped to contribute ideas for our blogs. Van de Rakt’s (2014) second tip is to choose between formal or informal writing. She concludes that you must “use a style that fits both you and your blog” (van de Rakt 2014). I decided to use a more informal style of writing for my blogs however I still kept strict formal referencing throughout the task.

The third point I will address is writing in public and building an audience for your blog. The idea of writing online is that it enables others to read and critique your work. My blog has received 532 hits over 43 blog posts which I think for a small blog which is relatively unknown is a good effort. To obtain hits I have employed a number of different tactics. Each post that is published has been categorised into subjects and then hash tagged so that it will appear on the WordPress feed. Another simple strategy is to engage with other BCM students through the comments section. If you comment some feedback on a person’s blog they are most likely to visit your blog page to see what you have written. Finally I used Twitter. Twitter was probably the easiest way to advertise my blogs. As Bunskoek (unknown) states “Tweeting about your blog can be an incredible way to reach out and connect with your consumer. With over 500 million users, you can find lots of news readers through tweeting”. When tweeting about my blog I used the #BCM240 which drove fellow BCM students to my blog.

tweeted blogs

Tweeting my blogs after I had published them leads into my fourth point. Editing my blog. As I mentioned above, this session we were being marked on our blog as a whole and not just for the content posted so it was time for a makeover. I set about changing my blog to be more appealing and easier for the reader to navigate through my work there were a lot of changes which had to be incorporated including;

  • Changing my About page
  • Categorising my work
  • Tagging my blog posts
  • Uploading my own cover photo
  • Changing the blog design (numerous times)
  • Embedding my Twitter feed

Jeff Goins (unknown pg. 1) ultimately covers how your blog should look in this summary “there is a lot you can do to make your bad blog design better. First, remove as many distractions as possible from what makes your blog worth reading: the content. Then, focus on making the text readable and enjoyable”.

The editing of my blog allowed for readers to be drawn into the blog easier. I also started to incorporate hyperlinks into my work which allowed the reader to delve further into any points which I had embedded in my work.

This last point is external research outside of the set readings. Due to the informal nature of my blogs I generally used the set readings and lecture information provided. When reflecting upon this I wish that I could have embedded more hyperlinks into my work which would allow the reader to research more about point I have provided.

I like the idea of having to reflect on your blogging over the semester as it allows you to critique your work and see the changes you have made over ten weeks. I believe my writing style has changed since the start of the semester and I think through the five points mentioned above my blog is starting to develop into a nice portfolio of my work.

Reference List:

Bunskoek K. (unknown), ’12 Formulas: How to use Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Blog’, wishpond.com, viewed on 2nd October 2015, http://blog.wishpond.com/post/54926252742/12-formulas-how-to-use-twitter-to-drive-traffic-to

Couts, A 2011, What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet, Digital Trends, 3rd April, viewed on 1stOctober 2015, http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/what-happens-on-the-internet-stays-on-the-internet/

Goins J. (unknown), ‘Bad Blog Design: 7 Tips to Beat the Status Quo’, goinswriter.com, viewed on 1st October 2015, http://goinswriter.com/bad-blog-design/

Van de Rakt, M, “Writing A Blog: Obtaining An Attractive Writing Style”, Yoast, viewed 30th September 2015, <https://yoast.com/attractive-writing-style-blog/>

Warner, J 2015, “Writing A Good Blog”, Dummies, viewed 29th September 2015, <http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/writing-a-good-blog.html>