Retirement in the Digital Age: A Story

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Digital Storytelling Reflective Analysis

Purpose of Project

The purpose of this qualitative digital storytelling project was to publish the ever-growing story of how retirees in Australia use the internet today.

I wished to persuade the audience of my story to think about and discuss how media practices, which in this case was specifically the use of internet for media, and audience experiences, are spatial in nature.

My personal relationship with my grandparents led me to this topic. This was a good choice as it provided a plethora of interesting and in-depth research opportunities on the subjects of media, audience and place.

Readings                                                              

To begin the project a large amount of secondary research was needed so that I understood the current data on retiree internet use, and how this is related to space and place.

This positively influenced my project as I was then able to critically think about how to further this research with my own methodology.

Then three primary interviews were conducted in the homes of three Australian retirees.

The pros of this method was that I gained several in-depth and individual perspectives on the subject of retiree internet use. The cons were that this research cannot be definitively applied to the wider range of retirees, as the small focus group cannot speak for the entire demographic.

However I would have still done it the same way, as it allowed for a personalised sight into the secondary research that backed my project.

Project Management

Next I had to research project management, and how I could fit all of this research into my limited time frame.

  • ‘The Digital Story Project Manager’. Filled with hundreds of well-informed and well-researched article this site taught me everything from ‘A guide to the best resource scheduling tools and resource management software’ to ‘How to respond to a project in crisis’. This provided invaluable data on how to effectively run my project to the stated deadline, and what to do if something went wrong (Warnert, Aston and Davis, 2016).
  • ‘Top 20 Skills for Digital Project Managers’. This site taught me something that I didn’t even consider when I began my project. I never thought about what skills I would need to create the project. These tips such as social media presence, video editing skills, and presentation skills were all vital to the project’s creation, and I was lucky to be able to build on these with the advice from this website (Sena, 2016).

Common Challenges

The challenges that are common in qualitative research all presented themselves throughout my project.

  • Subjectivity. Due to the potential for bias in qualitative research it is of the upmost importance that relevant secondary research is included to back any claims made in the project. This was accomplished in my own project with the chapters ‘Today’ and ‘The Problem’ which heavily feature the secondary evidence of retiree internet use.
  • No generalization. Due to the limited sample size available in qualitative research it cannot be definitively used as a representation of society. Again further research and a clear statement that conclusions are not concrete was used in my project to combat this issue.

Convincing representation

The platform of ‘Prezi’ was chosen for this project as it provides the easiest to read, and most linear digital platform available for storytelling (Gresham, 2014). The timeline allows for a clear story to develop, but also for the user to discover the story at their leisure as they can jump back and forth from each ‘chapter’.

I believe it worked effectively with my story, as each chapter was clearly distinct from the other, and the interviews were seamlessly integrated in with the research to create a flowing narrative. This made my argument engaging, and my research easy to understand, which would be convincing for media industries or stakeholders.

Effectiveness

As the purpose of this project is to reveal how retired Australians use the internet, and how issues of spatiality can impact this, the most effective use of this research would be in relation to improving internet access to our ageing population.

Projects such as the NBN and internet companies would find this project useful in determining where to next to improve their services, as well as how to educate this demographic on the usefulness of computers.

In conclusion, it would be my hope that this project be used effectively in granting more of our seniors the ability to easily access the wonders that are available in online media.

References

Abs.gov.au. (2016). 8146.0 – Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2012-13. [online] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/B10BDF0266D26389CA257C89000E3FD8?opendocument [Accessed 17 Oct. 2016].

ABS, (2014). Life expectancy (AIHW). [online] Aihw.gov.au. Available at: http://www.aihw.gov.au/deaths/life-expectancy/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2016].

Adams, K., Sanders, S. and Auth, E. (2004). Loneliness and depression in independent living retirement communities: risk and resilience factors. Aging & Mental Health, 8(6), pp.475-485.

Classroom.synonym.com. (2016). Problems in Research: Quantitative & Qualitative Methods | The Classroom | Synonym. [online] Available at: http://classroom.synonym.com/problems-research-quantitative-qualitative-methods-4418.html [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Cotten, S., Ford, G., Ford, S. and Hale, T. (2014). Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69(5), pp.763-771.

Gephart, R. (2004). Qualitative Research and the Academy of Management Journal. Academy of Management Journal, 47(4), pp.454-462.

Gresham, P. (2014). Fostering creativity through digital storytelling: “It’s a paradise inside a cage”. Metaphor, (1), pp.47-55.

Industrysuper.com. (2016). Retirement Age – Retiring in Australia » Industry Super. [online] Available at: http://www.industrysuper.com/retirement-info/retirement-age/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2016].

Kahn, C. (2016). Retirement Statistics: Then Vs. Now | Bankrate.com. [online] Bankrate.com. Available at: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/retirement-statistics-1.aspx [Accessed 17 Oct. 2016].

Robin, B. (2008). Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom. Theory Into Practice, 47(3), pp.220-228.

Robin, Ph.D., B. (2016). Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. [online] Digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu. Available at: http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/page.cfm?id=27&cid=27&sublinkid=31 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].

Sena, P. (2016). Top 20 Skills for Digital Project Managers. [online] Blog.hubspot.com. Available at: http://blog.hubspot.com/agency/top-20-skills-for-digital-project-managers#sm.0000pvtifbie3e5yplt1ff74ihzka [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Warnert, N., Aston, B. and Davis, H. (2016). Welcome to The Digital Project Manager. [online] The Digital Project Manager. Available at: http://www.thedigitalprojectmanager.com/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Can I Use My Phone Here?

Media Access in the Digital Age

In today’s society almost everyone has easy access to the internet, news, and social sites, through their portable media platform of the mobile phone.

This access has become so universal that we no longer ask the question ‘Can I use this media?’.

So how do we as a society decide when or where we should access these media sites?

As of today, that question is still unanswered. There are an infinite number or rules and regulations surrounding the use of mobile phones and other media, but usually each rule is relative to that specific individual and their social context (Vandewater, 2005).

Image result for phone rules at home
Source: Pinterest/Babble

Take myself for example: I am Tayla Bosley, I am a 19 year old Communications and Media Studies student who is majoring in Journalism. I still live at home with my mother and my two siblings.

Throughout these different settings that I live my life; as a student or a sister, there are location and time specific rules and regulations that I can either follow, or ignore and face the consequences.

Image result for social media rules and consequences
Source: Pintrest/iMOM

School

As a high school student there were a significant amount of rules that had to be followed in relation to the use of mobile phones and laptops.

For example through my years of 7 to 10 there was a strict ‘No Phones at School’ policy. Prior to the change in 2012, if a student was caught with a phone it would be confiscated and locked in the office until the end of the day. However, due to the soon overwhelming number of students who would use their phones at recess and lunch, the school alleviated the rule to allow students to use their media devices at those times.

The moral anxieties of the teachers from my school were that students would not pay attention in class or socialise at lunch time is they were allowed their phones.

But despite those concerns, the desire and acceptance of students using their phones, overcame the enforcers, to create a social norm, and lessen the anxieties of my teachers once they realised that no great change had overcome the studiousness of the students (Chen and Katz, 2009).

Home

At home there is only one place and time that media must be regulated; at dinner.

According to my mother, when we sit down to eat as a family, that is the time to talk to one another, not sit on our phones.

Usually this rule is enforced, with my siblings and I leaving our phones in our rooms or in our pockets, as to leave a phone on the dinner table, even without using it is considered a breach of the rule.

However, in certain cases, such as when my mother is too busy to eat, or when she herself needs to use her phone for work, the dinner table rule disappears, and all four of us sink into our own digital worlds.

Image result for phones at dinner
Source: SocialTech

Clearly my mother is attempting to control the dinnertime space as one only for communicating between family members. She is concerned that if we do not do it then we will never hear about each other’s days.

And if we don’t do that, our family is doomed to fall apart according to mum and surprisingly several journal articles (Sen, 2010, Sarles, 2008, Videon and Manning, 2003).

Why have rules?

These examples provide a relative view on some of the rules and regulations that all media users must face at some time or another.

But why do we have these rules in the first place? Why are we so concerned about media usage, especially when it comes to the younger generations?

It is because of control of space.

When my school enforced the formal rule that students could not have their phones at school, they wanted to control what we could and could not do within the confines of the school grounds.

They did not want us to use media during school hours because they feared it would distract us from school work (Obringer and Coffey, 2007).

Image result for phones at school
Source: The Simpsons

When my mother says ‘no phones at dinner’ she is controlling what we can and cannot look at or think about while at the dinner table.

At that time we are banned from extending ourselves through our media spheres to other people or information. At that time and place, we are limited to that physical place.

However

To use media in today’s society is to use freedom.

Media allows us to extends beyond ourselves; to be further than the confines of that time or place of physical space.

This is why parents, teachers, and politicians desire to implement rules and regulations on media use.

They wish to control us.

They fear what we can do online, because they cannot know what it is.

Sometimes that is not a bad thing; such as having a conversation with my family every night.

But when people who do not understand the awesome potential of media use attempts to limit it; such as geoblockers that limit what content Australians are allowed to use, it simply limits us as a nation and as individuals.

References

Chen, Y. and Katz, J. (2009). Extending family to school life: College students’ use of the mobile phone. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 67(2), pp.179-191.

Obringer, S. and Coffey, K. (2007). Cell Phones in American High Schools: A National Survey. JOTS, 33(1).

Sarles, R. (2008). Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors. Yearbook of Psychiatry and Applied Mental Health, 2008, p.30.

Sen, B. (2010). The relationship between frequency of family dinner and adolescent problem behaviors after adjusting for other family characteristics. Journal of Adolescence, 33(1), pp.187-196.

Vandewater, E. (2005). “No–You Can’t Watch That”: Parental Rules and Young Children’s Media Use. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(5), pp.608-623.

Videon, T. and Manning, C. (2003). Influences on adolescent eating patterns: the importance of family meals. Journal of Adolescent Health, 32(5), pp.365-373.

Attention Capacity Research In Television

For this week’s blog task we had to design a short task that would examine the attention capacity of a family member or friend, relative to our own.

Watching TV : Stock Photo
Source: GettyImages

Attention Test

To do this I sat down with my 16-year-old sister and watched an episode of Suits. This is a show that I like to watch but Paige does not.

To measure our attention capacities I had my laptop open and digitally tallied every time Paige or I looked away from the TV to our phones, or laptop, or to food (Marie Evans Schmidt and Elizabeth A. Vandewater, 2008).

Image result for watching suits
Source: Pinterest/SuitsFandom

Findings

These were the results:

Paige: 25

Tayla: 16

Now the reasons for these results are quite interesting.

Obviously one factor is that I like the show Suits, and Paige does not, so naturally I wanted to pay more attention to it than she did.

I wanted to know what would happen in this episode; what would happen to the characters and the development of the plot.

Paige was roped in with the bribe of cupcakes and being the best sister ever. Paige did not want to watch Suits because of the dramatic events that surrounded the life of a fake-lawyer, she watched it just because I asked her to.

Which is why at the beginning of the episode she was for the majority on her phone. However what she was doing on her phone also contributed to further instances of attention deficit (Loechner, 2016).

Image result for on phone watching tv
Source: mspy

I noticed that Paige would look down at her phone every moment or so at the start of the episode; as soon as it lit up. This was because she was messaging someone. Thus the prolonged contact with another person over media constantly took her attention away from the television (Cesar, Bulterman and Jansen, n.d.).

Once the conversation ended Paige’s attention grew more focused on Suits (Cesar, Chorianopoulos and Jensen, 2008).

I experienced a similar thing with myself. Engrossed as I was with the new episode of Suits, the distraction of having my laptop open grew too much at certain stages of the 40min episode.

A person I had messaged earlier today decided that that was the time to respond to my question, which then created a dialogue between us, and just like Paige, further instances of distraction.

Once that conversation had ended I was able to fully refocus on the the show.

Caucasian watching television on sofa : Stock Photo
Source: GettyImages

Food was another distraction. Halfway through the show Paige grew hungry and went to the kitchen for food and water, then when she returned, half her attention was on the show, and the other half was on getting the doughnut to go in her mouth, and not on her face.

Thus attention was lost again.

Once I closed my Facebook on my laptop, leaving only the page I was tallying on open, it was much easier to focus solely on the show… and Paige.

Lack of Reflexvity

For this was the struggle of playing participant and researcher simultaneously. Should I have counted every time that I noticed Paige was not paying attention? And should I have included the times that I was tallying on my laptop as a lapse from the television (Carolan, 2003)?

As it stands I did not include those moments in my final numbers. I felt as if my role as researcher was separate to my role as participant. But it isn’t really is it (Sikes, 2013)?

I did not show reflexivity in this research, as I am not including my distractions as a researcher in my findings.

Paige’s Experience

For Paige this test was boring and fairly long. It was 40mins of watching a show she does not watch and having her sister stare creepily over her shoulder to check if she is on her phone.

She admitted at the end of the test that the fact that she was aware of my observation changed the potential outcomes (MacNeill et al., 2016).

As Paige knew that I was looking to see how many times she went on her phone, she tried not to go on her phone as much; bar the conversation she had at the start.

Teenage looking at cellphone and playing with her hair : Stock Photo
Source: GettyImages

However, she then realised that she did not care how many times I tallied up, and proceeded to go on her phone as she wished.

Towards the end of the episode she became sleepy and struggled to keep her eyes open, let alone go on her phone.

Conclusions

Overall it is clear that the attention capacity of a person is heavily reliant upon many different factors (Parasuraman, Nestor and Greenwood, 1989).

These factors include:

  • Quality of content realtive to the individual’s personal prefernce
  • Whether the individual is in an online conversation
  • The level of alertness for the individual
  • The reason for viewing

In conclusion, if a person wants to watch something that they like, they will try to pay attention despite any distractions from technology, as I did. But if you force someone to pay attention to something that do not like, they will more than likely leave their attention to wander.

Father and son watching sports in living room : Stock Photo
Source: GettyImages

References

Carolan, M. (2003). Reflexivity: a personal journey during data collection. Nurse Researcher, 10(3), pp.7-14.

Cesar, P., Bulterman, D. and Jansen, A. (n.d.). Usages of the Secondary Screen in an Interactive Television Environment: Control, Enrich, Share, and Transfer Television Content. Changing Television Environments, pp.168-177.

Cesar, P., Chorianopoulos, K. and Jensen, J. (2008). Social television and user interaction. Computers in Entertainment, 6(1), p.1.

Loechner, T. (2016). Pay Attention To This: TV Engages People Half As Long As Digital, Nielsen Lab Study Finds. [online] Mediapost.com. Available at: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/244502/pay-attention-to-this-tv-engages-people-half-as-l.html [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016].

MacNeill, V., Foley, M., Quirk, A. and McCambridge, J. (2016). Shedding light on research participation effects in behaviour change trials: a qualitative study examining research participant experiences. BMC Public Health, 16(1).

Marie Evans Schmidt, and Elizabeth A. Vandewater, (2008). Media and Attention, Cognition, and School Achievement. The Future of Children, 18(1), pp.63-85.

Parasuraman, R., Nestor, P. and Greenwood, P. (1989). Sustained-attention capacity in young and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 4(3), pp.339-345.

Sikes, P. (2013). Autoethnography. London: SAGE Publications.

 

Preliminary Proposal For Narrative Research Project

What is the final project for BCM240?

The purpose of the final project for BCM240 includes the following:

  • to persuade my audience; you, the reader
  • to think about how media practices; using technology such as phones, television, and the internet
  • and audience experiences; the thoughts or emotions that you have while using technology
  • are spatial nature; dependent on where you are and who you are with.
Image result for how we use media at home
Source: oaklodge.wandsworth.sch.uk

So it is my responsibility, through this final project, to get you to not just enjoy that movie you are watching at home with your mum, but to enjoy it and think about why it is that you enjoy it. It is also the responsibility of this project to inform you why it is that different media practices combined with different venues and locations result in unique experiences.

To successfully implement this thought process and media discussion, I will use a specific example in the form of a qualitative digital storytelling project, as studies indicate that this one of the most effective forms of transferring knowledge and ideas (Gyabak and Godina,  2011,Sadik, 2008).

Leone Cordingley, who has been featured in previous posts on this blog, will be the focus of this digital story. Through the primary research techniques of observation, interview, and ethnographic collaboration (Glass, 1976), I will research the media practices of Leone, as well as her audience experiences, and then relate these practices and experiences to her spatial situation at home, and in other locations where she may also use media.

 

What do I want to know more about?

Throughout my research there are several factors that I would like to particulary investigate in relation to Leone’s media practices.

  1. Exactly what type of media does she use?

From my previous conversations with Leone I know that in her home she has one desktop computer, one television, one mobile phone for herself, and one mobile phone for her husband. She also interacts with various books, magazines and newspapers. Then there is the media that she uses outside of the home. Such as movie theatres, posters, billboards, and screens.

I would like to research which of these media mediums Leone uses the most, and which ones she does not realise that she is incorporating into her media practices (Correa, Hinsley and de Zúñiga, 2010).

I will also investigate how long Leone has been using each media, and which one she feels the most comfortable in using.

2.  How does she experience these media practices?

What does Leone feel when she watches television? Is it dependent on what she is watching? Or when she is watching it? (Radbourne et al., 2014)

How does Leone feel about using the internet? Is it a process that she is confident and comfortable doing? Or is it a difficult challenge? Is her experience dependent on what she is doing online? Or whether she has done that practice before?

Does Leone enjoy going to the movie theatre? Did she prefer going more when she was younger rather than today? Is she ever unhappy with what the film industry is producing now?

3. How does space affect her media practices and audience experience?

Does Leone use her mobile phone at home the same way that she uses it outside the home? (Australian Communications and Media Authority, 2009)

Does the enjoyment of her media practices change for Leone depending on her spatial environment? Does she enjoy using her mobile phone when it is particularly loud where she is? Does she like a movie more when seeing it at the theatre, or does she prefer watching films at home?

All these questions and more will be answered through the process of my research of Leone and her media habits; on the proviso that she is at all times comfortable and willing to participate in my research.

Image result for how old people use media
Source: techcommssk3054.blogspot.com.au

 

Who will be my collaborators?

The obvious primary collaborators to this project are Leone Cordingley herself and her husband. Without their collaboration, trust, and willingness this project cannot continue in any way (Northway, Parker and Roberts, 2002). Thus it is of the utmost importance that Leone and her husband are happy to be both subjects and collaborators.

Other collaborators to this project include my classmates from BCM240, as their assistance and advice will be critical to the success of this project. Without the ability to discuss the ideas and issues that surround this project it would be impossible to gain new insights and knowledge beyond my own limited world view (Ajiferuke, Burell and Tague, 1988).

Source: tvdsb.libquides.com

 

What kinds of digital platforms will I use?

The main digital platform for this project will be this blog site, as it provides the clearest forum to post and discuss the research with my fellow peers and other members of the community.

Email will also be a critical source of communication between myself and Leone, which will enable quick and direct contact with her throughout the project.

YouTube is also a valuable platform for engaging ideas and information related to the research.

 

Overall the proposal for this project is to ethically and responsibly research Leone’s media practices and audience experience, in relation to their spatial nature. Then to gather this information into a cohesive, engaging digital story that will enable others to think about and discuss media in this context.

 

References

Ajiferuke, I., Burell, Q. and Tague, J. (1988). Collaborative coefficient: A single measure of the degree of collaboration in research. Scientometrics, 14(5-6), pp.421-433.

Australian Communications and Media Authority, (2009). Use of digital media and communications by senior Australians. Canberra.

Correa, T., Hinsley, A. and de Zúñiga, H. (2010). Who interacts on the Web?: The intersection of users’ personality and social media use. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(2), pp.247-253.

Glass, G. (1976). Primary, Secondary, and Meta-Analysis of Research. Educational Researcher, 5(10), p.3.

Gyabak, K. and Godina, H. (2011). Digital storytelling in Bhutan: A qualitative examination of new media tools used to bridge the digital divide in a rural community school. Computers & Education, 57(4), pp.2236-2243.

Northway, R., Parker, M. and Roberts, E. (2002). Collaboration in research. Nurse Researcher, 9(2), pp.75-83.

Radbourne, J., Johanson, K., White, T. and Glow, H. (2014). The Audience experience: a critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts. Choice Reviews Online, 51(08), pp.51-4329-51-4329.

Sadik, A. (2008). Digital storytelling: a meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning. Education Tech Research Dev, 56(4), pp.487-506.

Can I Take Your Photo?

In the day and age of modern technology, where everyone has a phone with a camera on it, are we free to take photos of whoever and whatever we wish?

Well yes and no.

According to Arts Law Center of Australia – Street Photographer’s Right it is perfectly legal to take photos of people in the public, even without their permission.  “It is generally possible to take photographs in a public place without asking permission. This extends to taking photographs of buildings, sites and people…There are no publicity or personality rights in Australia, and there is no right to privacy that protects a person’s image.”

As long as the photographer does not breach the following circumstances (The Arts Law Centre of Australia, 2016):

  1. If the publication of the photograph of a person is a breach of the Privacy Act
  2. If the photographs of person were obtained as the result of the photographer trespassing on private property
  3. If the taking of the photography results in the breach of a duty, such as a duty to keep information confidential.

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So in taking a photo of this man sitting alone on his phone in Melbourne’s busy Swanston Street, I am fully in my legal right to take the photo, and to upload it to my WordPress blog.

But is it ethical?

Image result for ethics in photography
Source: InternationalTravleMadeEasy.com

Well according to some academics, although it is legal to take and publish someone’s image in the public sphere, it is not ethical to do so unless you ask them for their permission first (Gross, Katz and Ruby, 1991)

It also recommended that the photographer informs the subject of the photograph of the purpose of the photography, but only to the most absolutely minimal amount required to gain permission by the individual.

When I took the photo of the unknown man sitting on his phone on Swanston street, I did not ask his permission, nor did I inform him of the purpose of my photography. In fact, I did not even tell him that his image would be uploaded to this website, where it shall sit in perpetuity.

So was I being unethical?

If there was no injury or deception to the individual in the image, is it really unethical to publish his image? If it is his image as was available to be seen by others in the public? Some academics argue that it is only in the context of issues such as deception or lying that ethics come into the question with public photography (Long, 1991).

Does the care or discretion of the man come into question with this image? If I have not damaged his reputation or lied through the image about him, is it still ethical to publish his image without his knowledge or consent?

Honestly that question still remains open to me.

It is to be left to each individual photographer or researcher what they do in the safety of the law. What they do, and how they perceive the ethics of their actions is entirely up to them.

But how does a group of researchers come to an understanding of the ethical issues presented in their work?

How does public space ethnography successfully resolve this conundrum?

The answer is ethnography itself. Due to the inherent nature of ethnography as a cohesive, mindful approach to wholesome cooperation along all moments of research (Schwartz, 1989). When executing ethnography each individual researcher has come together with their partners to discuss the ethical approach they will incorporate into their research.

It is an imperative that this cohesion occur, because to do anything otherwise would not count as ethnography.

Thus, with a wholesome approach to public space ethnography, the research itself becomes faster, easier, and more understandable (Hannerz, 2003).

This approach safeguards the work of all researchers, and streamlines the research itself, making it all the more effective.

Image result for photo permission
Source: ClipArtKid.com

In the case of the unknown man, public space ethnography would have been a much more ethical approach, as it would have been agreed that his permission, or at least knowledge, would have been sought before the photo was taken.

All it would have taken was the question:

“Can I take your photo?”

 

 

References

Gross, L., Katz, J. and Ruby, J. (1991). Image Ethics. New York: OUP USA.

Hannerz, U. (2003). Being there… and there… and there!: Reflections on Multi-Site Ethnography. Ethnography, 4(2), pp.201-216.

Long, J.(1999). Ethics in the age of digital photography: Csimmonds.pbworks.com

Schwartz, D. (1989). Visual ethnography: Using photography in qualitative research. Qual Sociol, 12(2), pp.119-154.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia, (2016). Street Photographer’s Rights. Australian Government.

Is Cinema Flailing in The Shallows?

In the era of Netflix binge-watching it is unsurprising to hear that cinema attendance is going down in our society. With the average rate of cinema attendance in 2014 at 68% and the average frequency per Australian at 6.8 times a year (Screen Australia, 2016). 

Meanwhile the online streaming site Netflix, continues to steadily rise in Australia, with 13.9% of the population subscribed by the end of 2015 (Roy Morgan, 2016).

So what is the reason behind this steady decline in cinema attendance in Australia? Why are we increasingly choosing stay-at-home film services in lieu of going out and enjoying the big screen?

Well it may have something to do with Torsten Hagerstand.

According to Hagerstand, there are three human constraints that we must either fail or succeed through in order to travel to a particular place at a particular time (Hagerstrand 1970, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010). These constraints are:

  1. Capability: Meaning can you travel to that place? Can you walk there? Or drive there? Do you have a car? Or is the weather okay to drive in?
  2. Coupling: Meaning can you get to that place at the same time as the people you are going with? Do you have to pick up somebody else in your car? Or meet at the same train station?
  3. Authority: Meaning are you allowed to go to the place that you want to go? Is it legal? Or safe? Are you old enough? Or have the money necessary to enter that place?

If each of these constraints are overcome, then that person has arrived at their destination, at the right time, with the right people, with the right means of access to that place.

Image result for we did it
Source: 2015 Make A Meme

So what does this all have to do with cinemas and Netflix?

Well, to put it simply, Netflix does not have these constraints.

When I feel like watching a film at home on my Netflix I do not need to worry about how I am going to arrive at my house, or when I arrive there, or whether I have the authority to watch the films that are on Netflix. I just turn on my laptop, click on Netflix, and go. There’s the film; waiting for me.

Image result for how to watch netflix
…As long as I can decide what to watch. Source: SilverOakCasino.Com

To go to the cinema means to have to succeed those constraints that Hagerstand mentioned, which honestly speaking, is a lot of effort compared to the relative ease of Netflix.

Now that’s not to say that Netflix is without constraints. To be able to watch Netflix, you have to pay for the subscription, pay for the internet, and pay for the device that you are watching it on. You are also limited by what Netflix chooses to show, when they show it, and even where they choose to show it, as not all countries have the same availability as each other (Turner, 2016). And it is also just not the same experience that going to the movie theatre is.

Which is why, last Thursday I overcame my own constraints to attend my local cinema with my sister.

Image result for event cinemas liverpool
Source: Fernando de Sousa/ Wikimedia Commons
  1. Capability: To get to the cinema I had to drive my sister and myself the 15 mins from our house to the theatre. This also meant I had to have petrol in the car, and be legally able to drive.
  2. Coupling: This was the greatest issue of our endeavour. Since on this particular day I arrived home from uni at 6.30, and needed to be at the cinema at 7.20. My sister was particularly anxious on this constraint, with the text she sent me at 6.00 “Where are you?”. However we managed to leave at 7.00 and arrived (after finding a park) at the cinema at 7.23. Meaning that we were late for the beginning of the ads, but not much else.
  3. Authority: Now this was my favourite part of the constraints, since my sister actually works at this particular cinema; we got in for free. But we then had to buy popcorn and drinks (which my sister paid for since I drove).

Thus, with each constraint overcome, we were able to sit down and watch a film that is not yet available in the comfort of my Netflix; The Shallows.

While the film itself was fairly predictable, and even a little ridiculous, the experience of sitting in the theatre, with the deafening ‘shark’ music ever nearing definitely made me like the movie more than had I watched it on the tiny screen and tinny headphones of my laptop.

This is the experience of cinema that makes it still a viable media form in our current society of film-on-demand. Being able to sit with a bunch of strangers, and collectively gasp in shock at even the most anticipated of shark-jump-scares.

 

References

Roy Morgan. (2016). Netflix finishes 2015 reaching 2,728,000 Australians. [online] Available at: http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6633-netflix-growth-slows-by-end-of-year-december-2015-201601182300 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2016].

Schonfelder, S & Axhausen KW 2010, ‘Time, Space and Travel Analysis: An Overview’, in S Schonfelder & KW Axhausen (eds), Urban Rhythms and Travel Behaviour: Spatial and Temporal Phenomena of Daily Travel, Ashgate Publishing Company, Surrey, p.29-48.

Screen Australia. (2016). Attendance patterns – Audiences – Cinema – Fact Finders – Screen Australia. [online] Available at: http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/fact-finders/cinema/audiences/attendance-patterns [Accessed 26 Aug. 2016].

Turner, A. (2016). Netflix tightens geo-blocking crackdown over weekend, geo-dodgers fight back. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/gadgets-on-the-go/netflix-tightens-geoblocking-crackdown-over-weekend-geododgers-fight-back-20160222-gn03w7.html [Accessed 26 Aug. 2016].

Challenge Accepted: The Internet in Retirement

First it was the radio in the 1920s, then television in the 1950s, and now in the new millennium, it’s the internet.

But what is ‘it’?

The radio, the television, and the internet all have the same fundamental characteristic; they have each redefined the home, and most aspects of life, after their arrival in the commercial sphere.

The most obvious example of how each new technology has altered the way in which we live our lives at home is something you might not think about; the arrangement of the living room, and its furniture.

For example, before the radio, living rooms were designed so that the members of the household would actually look at each, and thus speak to one another, as was the original purpose of the ‘living room’. There were also other factors to consider, such as the fireplace, and proximity to doors and such.

A modern living room without a television? Source: Andrew Maier

 

The most important thing about this arrangement of living space of the pre-1920s, is that technology (almost nearly), had no role in the function of that room. It also had no power over how the members of the household, or their guests, interacted with each other.

We then had the invention of the radio in the 1920s, which saw people gathered around together as had been in previous decades; but no longer talking.

A 1920s family, physically together, but no longer in the same media space? Source: Daily Herald Archive

Thus began the change in family dynamics, as a result of technology.

Television in the 1950s saw an even more extreme version of this disconnect from family discussion to family ‘digestion’(Feldman, Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, & Story, 2007). The physical furniture was altered to more comfortably include the television into the home.

Now obviously this is not to say that these media forms have all been horrible blights upon society that we should fear and shirk from. On the contrary the conversation that I had with Leone Cordingley, the 74-year-old retiree, detailed her many happy memories of television, and more specifically, memories of television with her family.

These media technologies have indeed changed the dynamics of our living rooms and familial relationships, but not necessarily for the worse.

I know it’s a cheesy stock photo that would never happen in real life, but it gets the point across, okay? Source: Morgan Dicus

 

This is how I came to speaking to Leone about today’s impingement media form; the internet.

Leone lives in a retirement village, where maybe 10 to 15 of the 152 homes have a computer and access to the internet. Leone’s is one of them. Connected since 2006 Leone has steadily (with the help of her children and grandchildren) taught herself the in’s and out’s of the digital world, to the point that it is now a daily use for her.

“I just wanted a tool for current affairs and opinions. I use it to access volunteer work, spreadsheets, reports and writing.”

Leone Cordingley is only one of the increasing number of retirees who are becoming more and more confident with online life. Now, Leone has a few fingers in different jars, so the internet has become her space for emailing members of her various organisations, and keeping up with the daily news, as well as the space to settle any disagreement of opinion between her and her husband, Les.

“It satisfies our curiosity about a lot of things.” Leone said eloquently.

But has the internet really changed her household as its predecessors once did?

Leone doesn’t think so.

“No. It hasn’t changed it as much as TV.”

However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed the homes of other retirees. There are many studies that claim that retirees who use the internet are 1/3 less likely to experience depression as their non-connected counterparts. The studies attribute these findings to a lack of communication and connectivity with family members through the internet.

Leone understands this lack of will to connect to the internet by the vast majority of her neighbours. “For most older people it gets too hard and they don’t want a challenge.”

The fact that there is no WI-FI signal in the entire area, let alone the NBN, furthers this distance between the elderly residents and the realm of the internet.

So it seems that connectivity, and a bit of bravery, is needed before anything can really be said on the internet’s ability to change the household practices of retirees.

Hopefully one day I’ll see Leone’s blog up here as well, after all:

“I like the challenge.”

 

Bibliography

Feldman, S., Eisenberg, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Story, M. (2007). Associations between Watching TV during Family Meals and Dietary Intake Among Adolescents. Journal Of Nutrition Education And Behavior, 39(5), 257-263. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2007.04.181