Blog Entry

Media is quite often analysed in its influence on people, critiqued on its effect on us. What Gauntlett and few other professionals analyse is the opportunities media offers for us, in the process of authoring, publishing and distributing. This perspective looks at media “as triggers for experience” (Gauntlett 2015). Depending on how well we learn to use media depends on the outcome it has for us, as it can both “enrich and complicate our lives,” as Eugene (2012) suggests. Observing online media especially with an open mind is crucial from this perspective, to look beyond what manipulates and alters us, but instead the positive contingencies it offers. Distancing oneself from the personal impact that our changing online culture has can be difficult with the mass amount of content being circulated. Learning about digital literacies and practices is the difference being empowered and manipulated in the online world.

 

I created a blog through wordpress, that documented my online media interaction and thoughts on what I observed. It has come a long way from the step of creating the blog and writing a bit about myself, to reflecting and critically analyzing my involvement in consuming and creating online media. I documented what I researched and discovered about the rules and cultures of online media, pulling apart blogging tools and laws and thinking critically about what role they play in my own experience. I then kept an online diary in my blog for seven days, keeping track of my what I did in a typical week online. This documentation not only listed what I did online, but how I did it, what exact ways did I produce or consume the media and what was my reasoning. When analysing why I did certain things, I thought about the influencers, what were the catalysts for my reasoning.

 

My online media use was not what I had predicted of myself exactly. A lot of my online media usage was consumption based, searching specific content such as weather forecasts and topics of interest, as well as mundane scrolling through social media apps, looking at what people I knew and people of high calibre were publishing. My own content publishment was minimal. I publish content on Instagram particularly very rarely, usually of something that I have attended that I am proud to share about. I don’t write a lot of content, most of the media I publish is photos and videos. I thought about this further, and the reasons seem to stem from my attitudes towards people’s opinions. The people consume and respond to media makes me feel self conscious of writing too much of what I truly feel. The thoughts of what they’re thinking, whether they’ve digitally responded to it or not, has my mind churning through possibilities and reasonings. Personally, I perceive my personality and train of thought as quite possibly inquisitive and colourful, worth publishing to be viewed by others. However, the judgement and hyperscale frenzy of online media makes me worried about what response i will get. The high scale sharing of data at a rapid rate, where as soon as it’s uploaded to the online world it can be spread to anyone with access is mammoth publicity.

 

Upon my research however, I’ve learnt that creating your content and gearing it towards specific audiences (outside people you’ve met in person) can be simpler than first thought, with a little research and practice. Tagging creates “a specific and contextually relevant set of posts” as described by Tom Ewer (2011), which can help users interested in your topics and content find you. It makes your content mean something, categorized so that it is easily accessible amongst the blur of content circulating. This is also specifically important in my field of interest, public relations and marketing. When working with an organization’s online presence and media production, it must be distributed with easily access points to key audiences. It is important to navigate efficiently and find these categories that narrow down what you’re interested in finding. The spur of information is easily categorized through social media apps such as facebook and instagram, simplified amongst the mass of disorganised content streaming wildy.

 

More specifically in terms of authoring, having a point of difference in an environment that is so easily accessible by so many is difficult. Copyright laws are there to protect original content, but only in certain circumstances. Not many people are well informed about these laws, publishing as they will. It’s only when content gets to a high calibre, shared and consumed by more users does this originality analysis come to play. I find authoring easy enough to do, creating content that is original and appeasing based on my creative background and public relations skills. Publishing is easy enough to learn and do with so many easy access points, such as blogging site, social media portals and news outlets. It is a “revolutionary new trend” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010) that connects with millions of people universally. You can also create your very own website, but the easiest and most widespread way to distribute content is through existing social media and blogging communities, filled with people looking for content that can be found through search terms and categorising.

 

In conclusion, online media is so dense with opinions and varying practices, it’s important to keep a hold on what you believe is ethical and just, and only authoring and publishing what you wish in the way you wish, as the online sphere allows it. Though I understand distribution well, I feel my experience in authorising and publishing on topics more personal and for my own personal benefit is limited. On a professional level, it is very easy to adapt to techniques already used in the industry, but when your personal online authoring may not be monetary, rather just informative or entertaining, high level influence can be difficult. Sometime focussing on your online presence can take you away from your true feelings and attitudes, as you start to look at what others, other marketable, profiting spheres. I’ve learnt that online media can be successfully distributed with positive personal gain, when approached with caution and wider knowledge. Experience and practice is key to receiving maximum gain.

Word Count: 1035

References

Constant Contact Blogs. 2017. The Importance of Having a Rich Online Presence. [ONLINE] Available at: https://blogs.constantcontact.com/online-presence/. [Accessed 09 April 2017].

Gauntlett, David. Making Media Studies: The Creativity Turn in Media and Communications Studies. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. Print. (Read p. 7-12)

Andreas M. Kaplan, and Michael Haenlein. “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media.” Business Horizons 53.1 2010. p. 59-68 Web.

ManageWP. 2017. A Real-Life Example of How to Use Tags in WordPress for Maximum Benefit – ManageWP. [ONLINE] Available at: https://managewp.com/wordpress-tagging-example. [Accessed 09 April 2017].

Siapera, Eugene. Understanding New Media. London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications, 2012. Print. (p.2-16)

 

Reflecting on the Reflection

Reflecting on this exploration, I found that though my thoughts to me were against online media use, I used it quite often. Though I feel it provides ample opportunities in my field of work and plenty of benefits in my everyday life, it also makes me think differently. Messages can be misinterpreted. Conveying emotions can be quite difficult in a message or image. Though I struggle on a personal level to convey and interpret emotions socially, searching the webs portals can be very inspiring and spark emotion in a new sense. The access to some much knowledge, ideas and experiences is incredibly overwhelming and daunting. The web has made nothing a secret anymore, everything accessible, and in some cases, smarter and better people for it. You can connect across the globe, and I think the web has had a massive impact on breaking barriers of discrimination. Anyone from any race, age, socio-economic status can speak and share about the same topic without boundaries.

But there’s always the contrary, where it can also provide the share ground for terrible thoughts and ideas. Bullying, harassment and fear can also now be more widely disseminated. I feel like the best way to some up the web for me is like we’ve picked up everything we normally do in the world, put it online and it’s been blown so far out of proportion in both directions that we can’t stop it. That ideas are constantly evolving, moving, changing everywhere at a rapid speed. It’s scary how quickly things have moved since the dawn on the internet. I think that was makes up the basis of my reflection. How the online world has become the instigator of everything.

Evaluation

I prefer to search and research topics and ideas online based on it’s quick, easy access, but share the content I find in person. I value personal contact more than virtual, enjoying seeing the reactions on peoples faces towards what I show them and discussing it with real face to face emotion.

When I worked full time I used social media and general online use a lot less, working 10 hour days with 15 minute breaks, driving to and from work and thus having almost no time to aimlessly scroll in the virtual world. However at uni I have ample time on the train, in between and during classes to scroll around the web. Interestingly though, I would then do more of this at home after doing it all day at uni, but on a work day I would be less inclined still to jump online even though I had not used it all day. I use to online media to connect with people quickly but only to organise events or face-to-face catch ups.

After understanding the marketing and the deceitful tactics of the online world, the ways it can, for lack of better phrases, turn your brain into scrambled eggs, I tend to read more books, have more conversation with people face to face, even phone call over text message. What I do love the web for is it’s ability to help me find new places to venture to around the world, once secret and now available to find by everyone. A lot of it is commercial jargon, but if you search obscurely enough you’ll find hidden gems shared for you. I am also trying to expand my taste buds and try different cuisines and interpretations of them. Looking up food outlets on apps such as Instagram and Zomato allow me to see photos of the food, view prices, ratings and distances to the outlets. I can find these places and judge them before I get to them, making an estimated guess on whether it’ll be worth the venture without making a mistake.

I underestimate its ability to organise my life. My bank account details are there whenever I need them, you don’t need to visit a branch to get them. Contacting the workplace an university are at my fingertips, as well information readily available in online portals. In a projectional sense, it is the key in a field of public relations when getting my messages across, However, I tend to steer clear of this involvement in my personal life.

Evidence

I documented my media usage over a typical working week. On a normal week like this one, I scrolled social media most days, clicking and further scrolling through personal profiles that interested me. I use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. I also use Viber against my own will to contact one particular social group, however I use the other apps to connect socially with people I know. I checked my bank account through the NAB app, checked my rosters and gig alerts through my hotmail account and uni related emails through my gmail account on the app. I am a foodie, and looked up restaurants and cafes I went to or saved for the future thought Instagram and Zomato. I looked up addresses and maps on google maps to find these restaurants and attend a gig. I researched via google to find blogs on travel guides and tips for Southeast Asia. I send snaps to close friends or on my story rarely, either when I’m at something monumental, aesthetically pleasing, or just really really bored. I post monumental events or good photos with close friends on Instagram. I message though messenger to big groups of people, or to people I don’t have phone numbers from. I scroll aimlessly through Facebook, and save photos, articles and videos to show my partner and friends in person. On social media I rarely posted anything and rarely interacted with other peoples posts online.

Day 7

Monday March 27
Online Activity:

– Scrolled though social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
– Check emails (Hotmail, Gmail)
– Checked a Facebook group I am a member of for updates and comments
– Checked blackboard webpage on MacBook for assignment submission dates.
– Browsed Pinterest for photos of Southeast Asia inspiration

I realised that in my social time, outside of work and uni hours, I don’t interact very much socially online, as well as with what is necessary. Sometimes I wish the internet didn’t exist on day when I forget to check my emails and updates. A direct text message would be much more convenient for me if I need to know something important. I do like the community I have for my dance group. All the members of my dance group, as well as the admin and committee members are added to the online group, where our director updates us with important notices and information, as well as dancers shares social comments and have chats together. It helps new members feel comfortable and bond as well as easily share information with everyone.

I’m glad I used Pinterest during my documentation of my online activity. It is one of my favourite online apps. The collage of photos all tagged by key words makes it so easy to look something up you need visually and be inspired. Particularly for me, I love looking up inspiration for new travel destinations and activities. Apart from Instagram, I use Pinterest to search keywords such as countries or key cities and scroll through the images for ideas on places to go. I save my favourites into folders on my Pinterest account, which I categorise by country, continent or planned trips.

Day 6

Sunday 26 March
Online Activity:

– Scrolled through social media apps (Facebook only)
– Checked weather app for tomorrows weather forecast.

This is a very short entry. I woke up late today, spent the day out socialising, only going online as a couple brief points to scroll through Facebook, not thinking about the other social media apps I’m signed up to. I also checked the weather for the next day out of habit before I went to sleep. I noticed that the first social media app I always check is Facebook, then Instagram, and if I have time, Snapchat. I don’t usually open snapchat unless I have a notification of a snap sent to me. I don’t usually have notifications from Instagram, so I open that when I want to browse through pictures. I follow people I know, as well celebrities I like, food and health bloggers for inspiration on new healthy living practices and recipes, and clothing brands for new styles and products. I also follow my favourite musicians to track their journeys and get song release/concert updates and food blogs and outlets, for ideas on where to eat out next. After some though, I realised most of the places I choose to eat out at are chosen based on a photo I’ve seen posted on Instagram. I see a menu item that looks appealing to me, and end up following the place. When I got to eat out next, I scroll through the profiles I follow and choose one. I love the new food market. Though I understand they’re trying to entice me to come to their store, I in turn discover so many new flavours, styles and and locations.

Day 5

Saturday 25th March
Online Activity:

– Scrolled though Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat via the apps
– Messaged in group conversation on messenger
– Saved videos on Facebook in the Facebook app

The same as a Friday, on Saturday I work all day and don’t spend much of it on social media. This particular Saturday I stayed home after work and whilst watching TV, browsed my social media apps. My interactions as I scroll online really vary, depending on my mood and the environment I’m in. Sometimes I can sit there and like and comment on most things, usually only what my friends post, but most of the time I scroll and internally comment, never really publishing it. I’m quite a self conscious person sometimes, and like I said, it depends on my mood. There will be really odd times, where I’m excited before an occasion, and I’ll be scrolling my social media and liking and commenting on all my friends posts and content. I’m always well mannered and would never have an argument on social media. Messages can be taken the wrong way without your tone to match.
I’d prefer to see my friends in person and experience emotions face to face. It’s funny now that I think about it, the only time I really had any emotional benefit out of messaging was when I was dating someone and messaging them. We couldn’t see each other face to face and messaging everyday on messenger was the only way to communicate. But even then I didn’t like it, because meeting in person I got I different character than I had depicted from the messages. It was a better character, and to this day we message if we have to, for convenience of needing to say something when there’s no time to call, but otherwise we call each other and meet face to face. I am surrounded in my social network by people demanding virtual contact from me, feeling hurt and offended when I haven’t liked their photos, messaged them and so on. Its seems for most people messaging is just as important as seeing someone or talking to someone important face to face. I view things differently, I’m not too sure why I don’t get the same kick out of messaging. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have internet until year 9-10? Maybe it’s because digital screens feel fake and claustrophobic to me. That might sound weird but it’s exactly the way I feel.

Day 4

Friday 24th March
Online Activity:

– Scrolled through Facebook and Instagram on their apps
– Messaged friends on Messenger app in a group chat
– Searched directions and followed a map to the city using Google maps
– Recorded snippets of a concert and published them on Snapchat
– Saved a video to my camera roll and published it on Instagram

I worked all day one Friday, so I didn’t spend as much time looking up and searching around online. However, I did have tickets to a concert that night. I used Google Maps to search the location of the carpark near the venue and guide me to it. I also checked the price of the car park on their website (Wilsons Parking). I used google maps to guide us to a restaurant we had previously looked up and been interested in going to. At the concert, I took a few short ten second videos of my favourite parts. I don’t usually take videos at concerts, I feel like it takes me away from the moment, makes it more about sharing my experience with others than making the most of mine. However on this occasion, I was just so amazed by the rising talent I wanted to share it for the sake of the artists promotion, and save it for my own personal future reminiscence. I took the video though the snapchat app, publishing some videos on my story and saving others to my camera roll. After the concert, I then chose one of the videos I saved and published it to Instagram. I tagged the venue location, hash tagged the name of the artist and tagged my friend I attended with, also including a short one sentence caption describing the artists as unbelievable. I got 12 likes, however the video was played 70 times. Though I hash tagged the artist, my account is on a private setting, meaning only people I have accepted as friends would be able to see my video. Here is a screenshot of the Instagram post:

Day 3

Thursday 23rd March
Online Activity:

– Checked weather app in the morning for the day
– Scrolled through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on their apps
– Looked up camera reviews and information on website that review DSLR cameras
– Looked up directions to camera stores via google maps
– Messaged friends via messenger in a group chat

Thursdays is the day I have the most spare time to dawdle, and though most Thursdays I find myself doing mundane, pointless things online, today I used is scarcely and with purpose. Though I did scroll through social media, I went online to co-ordinate buying a camera, looking up reviews and images taken by cameras to see the quality for myself, as well as directions to camera stores. It made deciding on camera and finding the stores a lot easier. I messaged my friends on messenger in a group chat which really helps talking to multiple people at once about plans or a topic. I rarely speak socially online, usually only messaging to organise plans to meet in person. Messenger app, an extension of Facebook, makes it easy to talk to multiple people at once, as well as connecting with people in a social group who you have not got their phone number. I feel like it’s socially more acceptable these days to message more people on Facebook and become ‘friends’ with them than it is to have their number. Having their mobile number is a lot more personal to me, they have to be a really close friend or have some sort of relationship with me.

Day 2

Wednesday 22nd March
Online activity:

– Checked weather app in the morning for the day
– Scrolled though Facebook and Instagram on the train
– Searched and read articles on acai berry and vitamins on Chrome via Google
– Filtered through health profiles on Instagram for discussions on vitamins and acas berry
– Looked up Korean BBQ restaurants in the CBD on Google via Chrome on Broadsheet
– Also looked up these restaurants on Zomato app, looking at ratings, menu items and prices
– Looked up readings on RMIT Library on my MacBook for assignments, reading them and leaving the tabs open on my explorer.

I noticed today that I keep a lot of tabs and browsers open. I don’t know why I don’t just bookmark them or save them somewhere but it just seems easier to leave the tabs open everywhere. Checking the weather app every morning via my mobile helps me decide what to wear and bring for the day. It’s funny that these things help us so much today unlike back in a day without the online sphere, people would have to pack for all weather conditions, or just wing it and ruin their clothes and belongings. Though for some this organisation and ability to be ready for any day strategically seems like a positive, for me I just worry about how far this will all go so quickly, and just how lazy we will become. I can pre plan my whole night ahead, choose what I want off a menu, how much money I will need to bring, what the weather will be so I know what to wear, book a table from the comfort of my phone and follow a map to the location. I can search the train timetable to and from and plan the route off my phone from the station to the restaurant. I can determine weather I will like a place to go to before I even go, looking at ratings, photos and reviews shared online.