Mapping Research

Stage one of Campus Crusade ‘mapping research’.

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Screen shot from Google Map Maker (taken 03/04/14)

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Screen shot from Google Map maker (taken 03/04/14)

Rainbow Death Studios initially planned on utilizing the mapping capabilities of Google and running their mapping platform through Campus Crusade. Using Google Map Maker, I marked out territory and attempted to create a map of UOW to run in our app but found that this online platform couldn’t offer us much besides screen shots to use in the design phase. This exercise eventuated in Rainbow Death opting to design the map ourselves – this reduces cost of the production and limits the use of external companies, whilst allowing Rainbow Death to express their vision for the game design.

– Orcadia

Rise of Globalisation.

This semester I was part of a group assignment in which we had to invent a digital game, market it and then pitch it to our class. There were few restrictions due to the hypothetical nature of the assignment (the game would not be physically produced) so our group grew excited for the possibilities.

It soon became clear that communication was a huge factor in our concept; that being a location based activity game that allowed player’s to verse nearby people and for the winner to “own” real spaces. After constructing the game itself there was a clear need to create surrounding platforms that would compliment it and give users a larger community in which to feel a part of. We set up a Facebook profile to disseminate and aggregate game and player content and also enabled a chat feature for user’s to utilize whilst playing. This all stemmed from our understanding that “Electronic media facilitate an increased interconnectedness across vast distances and a temporal flexibility in social interaction” (Kaul, Vineet 2011).

Jerry W. Thomas demonstrates this fusion of new and old technologies (specifically in advertising) in his article, ‘Traditional Media vs. New media’. He outlines that ‘Television Advertising’ actually encompasses much more than just television. “Not only does the term ‘television advertising’ refer to a commercial with colour, motion and sound like those you see on television, it also refers to those same types of commercials you might see on the web, in social media, on YouTube, or on Facebook” (2013). Opening definitions to include new media seems to be recurring and will likely rise with media platforms crossing paths more as technology develops.

Referring back to Kaul’s theories of globalization, he also mentions in his article that “the digitalization and convergence of the media offer new possibilities for increasing cultural diversity, such as… the greater possibility for subtitling or dubbing and the new routes for the distribution of contents”. From my point of view, having seen the benefits of new technologies and the way they can impact our global relationships, Globalization is a fantastic prospect. “In sociological and cultural analyses of globalisation, media such as satellite television, the Internet, computers, mobile phones etc. are often thought to be among the primary forces behind current restructurations of social and cultural geography.” (Kaul, 2011).

For something to not only foster global relationships but also cultural understanding, is a very rare thing. In this seemingly materialistic and isolating digital age, I think we can all stand for a little more acceptance and connectedness.

 

References:

Kaul, Vineet 2011 ‘Globalisation and Media’, Mass Communication and Journalism, Vol 1 Issue 1, p.1-6

Thomas, Jerry W. 2013 ‘Traditional Media vs. New Media: Advertising’, Market Research Bulletin. Accessed at: http://marketresearchbulletin.com/traditional-media-vs-new-media-advertising-research-jerry-w-thomas/

Campus Crusade

ImageThe crux of our concept marries real space and the cyber realm, with the outcome of a mini game resulting in the allocation of real territory. This isn’t like an ordinary game that relies on points and coins – the winner gains status with their name/avatar being displayed on the game map, essentially ‘owning’ those real spaces. The more territory you own – the cooler you are! With no real score-based system displayed to the players, the game awards territory to the winning player…but also takes into account their number of previous wins to losses. 
To win, the current ruler of a space/territory, the challenger must move into that area and play a mini game against another present player. This fosters social interaction between players and also prompts them to move to new areas in order to gain more territory. Initial brainstorming saw our game ideas skyrocket, but to bring the concept back down to earth, we’ve decided to make it available only at UOW.

Just another selfie.

For many, encountering a selfie is often followed by a hefty eye-roll and sigh. However, Jerry Saltz’, Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie  manages to depict selfies as artistic, even going as far to describe the genre as an artistic movement. I personally, am still a member of the former category (the eye-roller).

Whilst selfies have revolutionized how we share information, take photographs and the broadened the uses of technology, however, many people are using them merely for personal gratification.

Saltz references Kyle Chakya, curator of the National #Selfie Portrait Gallery who describes the selfie as ‘creating your own digital avatar’, going on to say that “Smartphone selfies come out of the same impulse as Rembrandt’s… to make yourself look awesome”. Here, Chakya refers to the work of Rembrandt, who is renowned for the self-portraiture that recurs throughout his work. This prompted me to think about the reasons behind Rembrandt painting himself – did he want to be perceived a certain way? Was he being selective with the physical traits he chose to enhance in his images?http://www.flickr.com/photos/55420507@N05/10957021615/

This is certainly the case in today’s day and age. Taking a selfie enables the photographer to enhance their best features and withhold the elements of themselves that they don’t want the audience to see. This ability to amend images and construct a profile that hides your flaws and magnifies your strengths poses many ethical questions. Should we consider these people liars and frauds or just accept that social media fosters embellishment?

Typically, the selfie is subjected to numerous stages of editing, including the multiple staged photos that a person will take before settling on one to post on Instagram (or other social media). Then comes the choice of filter, which again alters the image, exposing the audience to an unrealistic depiction of a person.

The essence of the selfie is false, edited, skewed and partial. But now a way of life, the selfie is here to stay. So whatever your feelings towards the selfie or the people that constantly post them, embrace it, albeit with the knowledge that not all is what it seems.

The Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things. I’m currently undecided as to whether this phenomenon impresses me or scares me. Hopefully by the end of this post I’ll have a better idea about how I feel!

It’s predicted that by the year 2020, each person on average will have 6 devices connected to the internet – meaning a total of 50 billion objects will be online and reactive to our every move. Its an overwhelming topic, one that makes me excited for the future but also gives me a chill thinking about what new developments will mean for peoples privacy.

Like the above video points out, theoretically our refrigerator will be able to decide what we’ll be having for dinner, before we even begin to feel hungry. On one hand this is a huge step forwards in terms of efficiency and time management, but on the other it poses a very real threat to the laziness of our society and the priorities that technology deems appropriate.

It seems as though the world’s current ideas are in turmoil. Again using the refrigerator example, what will that mean for franchises like television cooking or advertising? If our refrigerator is making all the important decisions, who will advertising be targeting? It surely wont be me if there are no choices to make!

This idea that everything will be controlled by sensors hooked up to the internet for quick and easy information access is a great one in theory. It’s a step in the right direction for sure, but to what extent do we need this kind of technology in our lives? I think that the above video depicts a world null of decisions and spontaneity; a world where choices are made on your behalf based on previous behavioural algorithms.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was undecided as to the success of ‘The Internet of Things’… well I’ve reached my verdict. Theoretically this is a fantastic idea and one that, in moderation, will definitely make life easier for many people, specifically those with a disability for example. However, I can’t help but feel as though the essence of life is being dragged away by online servers and real-life sensors. I guess in 2020 we’ll have some real answers!

ily Apple <3

Whatever it is…the streamlined design, user-friendly layout or the superior social status it provides, owning anything apple just makes me feel good.

Apple products are sheik and perhaps the most user-friendly devices in the world. This has always made me feel uneasy about Android owners… why wouldn’t they want to be a pat of this beautiful community called Apple? I know a few people who own androids and I usually come to the same conclusion about each person – they don’t have an apple purely out of principle. From experience, the only types of people who don’t want an apple are the ones who have been hurt by iOS in the past.

It comes down to personal preference and experience with a device but I personally find it a very real struggle to even play music from my friend’s Android mobile (Samsung Galaxy SIII for those curious George’s out there). This is in stark contrast to the ease and familiarity I feel when navigating my iPhone, a phone that can be explored with ease by almost anyone (except my mum).

Despite being briefly educated on the amazing technology that is Android, I feel hesitant to say that I myself would veer from my comfortable Apple bubble and purchase something of such daunting capabilities. After all, the abilities that seem to be such a huge selling point for Android devices are ones that the everyday user would struggle to understand let alone utilize daily. Cadie Thompson, of CNBC, has some tips for those iPhone lovers looking to make the switch.

It’s the overwhelming possibility of non-apple devices that provides me some solace, feeling as though the security and ease of my trusty iPhone is enough to keep me happy… at least until something mind blowing comes along.

I recognize that the Android movement is hot on our heels, in fact it’s so hot that our heels are sizzling! Here is a discussion of  the pro’s and cons of each operating system (iOS vs. Android), revealing that globally, Android greatly outsells iOS is smartphone sales.

[Say Whaaaaat?! http://techland.time.com/2013/04/16/ios-vs-android/%5D

They’re impressive statistics but I don’t feel as though the technology Android provides is necessary to the everyday person like myself, with my gleaming iPhone screen keeping me more than occupied.

#Revolutionary

I’m of the opinion that social media is a wonderful and often underrated tool, capable of maintaining the stability and organisation of various groups. This can be seen particularly in the case of the Arab Spring, with revolutionaries numbering the hundreds of thousands, seen specifically in the mass protesters that assembled at Tahrir Square in Egypt, 2011.

It is here that the conflicting opinions lie – was social media the cause of the Arab Spring or was it merely a catalyst in assisting the already surging revolution?

Often referred to by scholars and journalists as the ‘Twitter Revolution’, the Arab Spring is unique due to its strong dependence on social media to facilitate meetings and assemble the revolutionaries involved in the uprising. A report composed by scholars from Harvard University and George Washington University “analyses… the impact of new media on political movements”. It concludes, “Where Twitter and other new media clearly did matter is how they conveyed information about the protests to the outside world. Traditional media were at a disadvantage in covering events inside Iran because of restrictions placed on journalists, and thus ended up relying on new media for content.” (Aday, S et. al, 2010). This clearly establishes the roles of the citizens directly involved in the revolution and those on the outside world, revealing the importance of social media for both citizens and reporters alike. This example sees social media depicted as an infrastructure for citizens to communicate their revolutionary work, rather than a place to start the revolution itself.

Saleem Kasim, in his article “Twitter revolution: How the Arab Spring was Helped by Social Media”, outlines the usefulness of social media and how its presence during the revolution helped many people to cope and find support, “Through social networking sites, Arab Spring activists have not only gained the power to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also helped Arab civilians become aware of the underground communities that exist and are made up of their brothers, and others willing to listen to their stories” (Kasim, S 2012).

Kalim also adds that during the revolution, users were able to share “an immense amount of uncensored and accurate information throughout social networking sites”. This is perhaps one of the most important points to make about the role of social media: It’s easy, quick and free! An activist in Cairo during the rebellion tweeted, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world”.

A Tweet takes mere seconds to write and upload and is done so on a very public platform, providing outsiders with a candid view of the situation from people who are actually there in real time. Social media offered citizens the opportunity to get their thoughts and stories into the public sphere freely via social media, effectively bypassing government censorship. I am of the firm belief that without social media, the uprisings in Egypt etc. would have still gone ahead, however it is clear that platforms such as twitter, YouTube and Facebook played numerous roles in assisting citizens and journalists alike at the time.

The Long & Short of it.

I could write an ongoing list of the things I love about the Internet. It’s fast, informative, and whilst it isn’t without fault, I know I can always rely on it to be there when I need it ❤

It’s hard for me to imagine living in a world without Internet. Revolutionizing the way we communicate, our behaviour and the speed at which we can perform daily activities, the world we live in is no longer physical, but spaceless and immediate. Bruce Sterling describes the Internet phenomenon, “The Internet’s pace of growth in the early 1990s is spectacular, almost ferocious. It is spreading faster than cellular phones, faster than fax machines. Last year the Internet was growing at a rate of twenty per cent a ‘month’… The Internet is moving out of its original base in military and research institutions, into elementary and high schools, as well as into public libraries and the commercial sector” (1993).

This primary source demonstrates that at the time the Internet was being introduced commercially, it was marvelled at and almost revered. Merely 20 years ago the Internet was an emerging technology, now it’s a necessity that many people would struggle to go a day without. It is impossible to know exactly how many people have access to and use the internet on a daily basis, but sources figures suggest that 30-50% of the worlds population have or continue to use it. This info graphic by the Culture-ist visually demonstrates the spread of the Internet and how people around the world use it.

Interestingly, according to the ‘Culture-ist’, 58% of Internet users utilize online shopping (2013). Being able to purchase goods online now offers a multitude of benefits to not only the customers but also the retailers. Major draw cards that Internet offers to shoppers is the fact that product shelf life is no longer an issue and retailers are not limited by space (the Internet doesn’t have a limited number of shelves for stores to put things on – its very much infinite).

Chris Anderson’s writings on ‘The Long Tail’  demonstrate again how the Internet has played a role in the evolution of shopping and our behaviour as customers. Amongst others, Anderson uses the example of Amazon.com using “algorithm-fueled recommendations” to boost sales. After the success of a book called “Into Thin Air”, buyers were directed to another publication. “Touching the Void”, published first but not gaining popularity until later, ironically now out sells “Into Thin Air” by more than double. It can be derived from Anderson’s work that the Internet has revolutionised sales and especially our exposure to products.

Previously, for example, if you wanted to buy a CD, the range of stock in a few stores would limit what music you could buy and be exposed to. Anderson describes the age of pre-Internet sales as, “an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created…” (2004). Now, however, online retail enables a place of infinite space and abundance of stock, to cater for everyone’s needs and wants. Now, online retailers such as iTunes, eBay and Amazon offer personalised recommendations based on products that would be of interest to you. This is Long Tail – a technique that not only effectively sells more products but also exposes customers to niche products (such as music or movies) that they otherwise may never have found in a world without the internet.

It’s a phenomenon that just keeps growing and one that provides benefits to its users on a daily basis. Online shopping, in conjunction with regular retail stores are enhancing our attitudes towards shopping and creating an immediate, limitless world for its users.

I think that’s a really nice thing.  🙂

Sources

Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Wired. 12.10Sterling, B. (1993) ‘A Short History of the Internet’

So hot they need a fan.

The word “fan” is one with a plethora of negative connotations. No, I’m not talking about this kind of fan…I’ll save that for another post.

Prior to my research on this topic, my idea of a fan was a screaming 13 year old with a crippling addiction to One Direction. Whilst there may be millions like this, I discovered a huge online world of diverse fandoms, branching from K-Pop communities to Fifty Shades of Grey fan clubs.

The Internet has allowed a culture of online sharing and collaboration to flourish. Not only do we, as an audience, receive information about the things we love, but also we, as prosumers, use that information to create content and share with the online community.

K-POP is a genre of music that started in South Korea that is now also a culture of fan fiction and fashion, specifically amongst teens and young adults throughout Asia. This fandom, whilst still primarily based online (especially for fans in Australia) due to its geographic restrictions, is unique in that fans are just as active as real-life fans as they are online. They express their interest in the genre by dressing up, attending events and imitating the art itself.

But what did fans do prior to the Internet? The Beatles had “followers” (not the twitter kind) before the Internet became commercially accessible like it is today. I find it interesting that the Beatles, a band that had no reliance on re-tweets, Facebook likes or YouTube views, remained unrivaled in popularity and fan frenzy for nearly 50 years. Now, it seems that history is repeating itself, with ‘One Directioners’ (One Direction fans) rivaling the hysteric scenes of the early 1960s when Beatlemania swept the globe.

A prime example of fan collaboration and self expression can be found at ‘Supanova’, a pop culture expo that provides fans with a real-life platform to interact with their idols and share their own content with others with the same interests. The convention is not limited to one specific fan, with the global event boasting celebrities and entertainment from the Sci-Fi, Gaming, Pulp TV/Movie, Animation/Cartoon, Fantasy, Comic Books and trading card communities…just to name a few!

Henry Jenkins mentions in a video on participatory culture, “…in a folk culture, media is produced not to make money. People produce media to share it with each other”. I think this is the best thing that the Internet has offered us as fans, the opportunity to share our interests with the world and perhaps connect with those who enjoy the same things.

I started this post with a Beyoncé fan video and I will leave you with another. Enjoy it as much as I have.

“We had it good”

My Dad recalls his early memories of the television, growing up in 1960s Scotland.

The scenes on the television were a far cry from the reality that greeted my Dad outside his window. In 1968, Mexico hosted the summer Olympics – my Dad recalls waking up early to watch the events, “it was always sunny”. This resonated with me, knowing that his childhood in Scotland was often cold and bleak. My Dad, not yet a teenager then, used the television as a form of escapism, running into the living room to watch the athletes compete under a blazing sun which was all too foreign in the place he grew up in.

Technology today grants us myriad entry points to discovering new information – for example, if we wanted to know what the weather was like in Mexico we’d simply use our iPhone app or Google it. However, for my Dad, Television was the portal to a whole new world, unimaginable sights brought right into his family living room.

A smug grin washes over his face as he tells me of when the family bought a Philips TV; “It even had push-buttons…we had it good”. Feeling proud of his accomplishment, he adds, “I also found out you could tune those buttons manually”. Qualifying as a mechanic in the late Seventies, his early memories of tinkering around with the television tuners contributed to my perception of him as a young man.

Right up until his late teens, when technology granted portable televisions, Dad reminisces that watching television was a communal, family event with everyone enjoying the evening programs together. Shows like Bugs Bunny, Walt Disney classics and Z-Cars are among some of his earliest memories. I prompted Dad to think of when it was that the television, for him, started to be seen less as a tool in orchestrating ‘family time’. And, like me, that began when he became old enough to come and go from the house as he pleased; he recalled coming home from nights out to his Mother and Father watching programs, where he would sit and talk with them for a while and then go to bed. This is extremely similar to our household today, when we often play catch-up on each others days when everyone gets home, sitting around the TV with a tea.

I asked him when it was that having two or more televisions in a household became commonplace. Today, having a television in every room isn’t thought twice about, but back in the 60s and 70s when television started to grow exponentially, a new TV was only purchased after the old one died. My parents adopted this behavior well into my childhood– I remember having only one TV growing up, being left behind as all the cool kids got shiny silver flat-screens whilst our boring, black Panasonic sat inside its clunky cabinet (with convenient doors that hid it away from sight).

– Orcadia 🙂