BCM212 Project progress update and Communications strategy

As already mentioned in my Research Proposal blog post, I am working on a project researching about the students’ decisions to choose a university and majors as well as the reasons why they may change their choices and how the majors¬†relate to their future careers.

In this short blog post I will not focus on the content of my project, but on my progress so far and communications strategy for the project instead. First of all, I would like to indicate my method to recruit people to participate in my survey and interviews. For my survey, which you can find here, I have put up a post on Moodle, my university platform, embedding the survey link in which I also explained briefly about my project. I have also tried to get more responses by putting the link up on Twitter with the hashtag #bcm112. So far, so good, I keep getting new responses everyday ūüėČ

About my interview, I was a bit worried about how I can find the suitable interviewees. Fortunately, I have several friends whose stories according to my perception fit into the context of my project. However, another problem is that I plan to film the interview so consent can be a potential problem. Therefore, I am fully aware that only by communicating clearly the project topic which is just a daily and sensitive topic can I get their approval. Below is the example of how I contact one of my interviewees (he allowed me to upload this piece of conversation but I will secure his identity).

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For the progress of my project, check this chart below for the details of my schedule from the beginning of the project until the deadline, wish me luck and bravery to stick to this plan guys :).

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In general, this blog will me my main tool to communicate to people about my project. In response to my tutor’s feedback about my blog design, I have established an ‘About‘ section on my blog including some information about me and my contact details so who are interested in or have questions about my blog can contact my more easily.

That’s it for this time. I will update my progress real soon. Stay tuned !

Cuong.

Poverty porn: calling for change, not charity.

Since the media industry is developing significantly, new genres of media product have been emerging. Among those depicting ordinary topics, there are some that dig into more sensitive, strange and narrow aspects. In this blog post I will focus on the case of ‘poverty porn’, a genre that can be defined as any type of media exploiting the poor’s condition to create sympathy in order to sell newspapers, attract charity donations and support people (Roegnigk 2014).

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Human beings do feel sorry for the inferior, which I suppose you guys will all agree with me. Once we see a starving kid, a homeless person, an innocent citizen suffering from war or similar stuffs, we feel sorry for them at a certain degree. I understand that, you understand that and above all, the media understand that too. It is not difficult at all to find poverty porn elements in everything we encounter on a daily basis. We see such pitiful cases in pieces of news, TV shows and even images on Facebook. Exposure to such media products do make us sympathize with ones featured, but have you ever wondered what are the purposes behind all these ?

Obviously we can all understand that by showing such content, the media want us to be aware of other sides of the world which we may not know or even think that they exist. Moreover, we have a chance to realize the degree of seriousness of them by coming up with materials capturing what actually happens.

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“If I don‚Äôt take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies” – war photographer¬†Kenneth Jarecke.

That is the way it is. If we do not know enough, we can never develop enough sympathy or empathy. In this way, it cannot be denied that the media is doing a good job by introducing poverty porn to inform people (Middendorp 2015). However, the consequent actions that are called from poverty porn is what actually worth concerned.

I still remembered one detail in the video above¬†about the story of Hollywood actor Jack Black and a homeless kid in Uganda when¬†the kid told¬†JB “I want to go with you” and he replied “I don’t think I can take you with me”. I liked the whole video in which Jack Black tried to raise funds to offer¬†homeless kids education, except for that detail. Personally, I think that detail makes the whole mood of the video seem to be hopeless. I was born and grown up in Vietnam, a developing country in Southeast Asia in a middle class family. Although I live in one of the most modern city in the country, Hanoi, which is also the capital, I still encounter similar circumstances quite often. I see homeless kids on the street all the time and like anybody else, I always want to help them. I am pretty sure that when I was small, more than once when I saw¬†a homeless kid¬†I told my mom: “Can we take him home with us?” and I received the same response: “No we can’t. We don’t take them home, but we support them. That’s the way it is” and mom gave me something, maybe a little amount of money or food, and told me to gave it to them. And from those moments on, I realized that is how life works. It is not fair for everyone, but who are more privileged can support inferior ones, to make it less unfair (Beresford 2016).

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The above points lead me to my final conclusion. I do not say that people should not adopt homeless kids or offer the poor people or those¬†in harsh situations a new better life. The ones who do that are so admirable as they turn on the light in those dark segments of life. However, that should not be the purpose of poverty porn. By introducing¬†poverty porn, the media should not encourage people to adopt homeless kids because that does not solve the problem radically (Dortonne 2016). There are millions of abandoned kids that we cannot adopt them all, and we avoid the issue by taking home the kids that stay in front of our eyes and fool ourselves to forget the all the remaining kids behind our back. Media makers, through poverty porn, should encourage people to support the inferior instead, by offering them opportunities to earn a better life themselves (for example, education) and beyond that, challenge the policies that push them into, or do not let them get out of those situations (Allen and Silver 2014). Instead of “neglect and obscure the systemic challenges and compounding disadvantages that people face”, the media should “deliver policies that can affect the challenging realities” (Allen and Silver 2014).

Poverty porn should call for change, not for charity. Because that is the way it is.

Reference:

Allen, K and Silver, D 2014,¬†It‚Äôs easy to hate ‚Äėpoverty porn‚Äô but harder to fight¬†inequality, The Conversation, viewed March 31st 2017, <https://theconversation.com/its-easy-to-hate-poverty-porn-but-harder-to-fight-inequality-33555&gt;.

Beresford, P 2014, ‘Presenting welfare reform: poverty porn, telling sad stories or achieving change?’,¬†Disability & Society, Vol. 31 Issue 3, pp. 421-425.

Dortonne, N 2016, The dangers of poverty porn, CNN, viewed March 23rd 2017, <http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/08/health/poverty-porn-danger-feat/&gt;.

Middendorp, C 2015, Poverty porn: look at these vulnerable people, The Canberra Times, viewed March 23rd 2017, <http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/are-pictures-of-the-vulnerable-poverty-porn-20151003-gk0qv6.html&gt;.

Roegnigk, E 2014, 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person, One.org, viewed March 23rd 2017, <https://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt;.

The branded self: transition, not elimination.

In this digital era, it is common and essential for young people to establish their online personas. With an online profile, people are able to connect more easily as others can partly understand their characteristics by looking at the content they upload on social media. Living in a digitalised world where people have virtual lives in parallel with their real life, a social media persona rich in content is really useful in broadening our communication network.

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Having realized the importance of online profile, employers are now paying much attention on their candidates’ activities on the Internet to further understand them. Therefore, a lot of people have started to establish strategies to customize their online personas in certain ways to achieve professionalism. For example, Filipino fashion blogger Bryanboy has dedicated¬†his whole online life to express his passion in fashion by establishing his own website along with¬†his accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. As a result, Bryanboy received invitation to cooperate with world-famous fashion designers such as Marc Jacob. My UOW fellow Mitchel Trench has huge interest in global media and travelling, therefore he established his own Facebook page and Youtube channel to upload videos sharing his travelling experiences all around the world and this contributes to his employment in several travel agencies. I myself experience the same case as I am an amateur viner with my own Facebook page where I upload vines that I made. This Facebook profile helped me to gain an internship opportunity in a viral marketing agency when I returned to Vietnam, my home country, the previous summer break.

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The above examples have partly proven the importance and advantage of having our online profiled tailored in a professional and strategic way. However, a lot of people are engaging in this process too excessively. By using several examples, Gershon (2014) indicated that young people when deciding to professionalize their online personas tend to give up their existing habits, change the way they interact with friends (or even narrow down their friends list), hide the information or delete contents that they consider no longer appropriate. This is what Gershon (2014) consider a ‘paradoxical and recursive process’ of young people to ‘inhabit their corporate personhood’. Only by doing this do they feel that the transition process happens thoroughly.

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However, I argue against this as I do not think that process can be called a ‘transition’. By hiding information¬†or deleting contents uploaded, a person is also deleting what is inherent to his/her characteristic. Therefore, I might call this an ‘elimination’. Defined by Cambridge Dictionary, a transition is ‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another’. However, in this case, we could not see evidence of the former state prior to the transition as people have hidden or deleted contents from their profile. Without such evidence, other people cannot see the contrast between their profiles at two different stages to properly consider that a ‘transition’. Argued by Berger 2011, “a person’s present self talks about the past self to the future self”. Moreover, the contents uploaded on Facebook present the “aspects of identity work which are tied to imperatives for self-promotion in the current conjuncture” (Goodwin et al 2016). Therefore, a person’s proper transition to a branded self must show others that “I realized the importance of changing myself, and I want people to know that”. By observing someone adopting new patterns of using online platforms alongside with keeping the original contents, we can see how that person developed from a naive, innocent stage into a more mature one¬†in his/her life (Berger 2011). It creates a big picture about one’s characteristic for the audience and also for that person as he can fully develop his self-awareness to effectively improve himself in the future.

Everything you do reflect yourself, you might stage it, but you cannot stage what you really are, and that is your truly ‘brand’.

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“You are just doing it for attention, and you will be back”.

Reference:

Berger, A 2011, ‘The Branded Self: On the Semiotics of Identity’,¬†The American Sociologist,¬†vol. 42, no. 2/3, pp. 232-237.

Gershon, I 2014, ‘Selling Your Self in the United States’,¬†Political and Legal Anthropology Review,¬†pp. 281-295.

Goodwin et al 2016, ‘Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self’,¬†Social Media + Society,¬†Vol 2, Iss 1.

Twitter hashtag: a new level of cosmopolitanism.

We are living in a world of cosmopolitanism, which can be understood as ‚Äúall human beings belong to a single community, based on a shared morality‚ÄĚ (Waldron 2000). This ideology can be reflected in many aspects of our lives, from entertainment to politics. People with different backgrounds from various geographical areas are turning into global citizens in a ‚Äúglobal village‚ÄĚ (McLuhan 1964) to be more aware of events happening all around the world. With the help of high technology and the Internet in particular, cosmopolitanism has developed significantly both in form and scale. This short piece of writing will explain the matter of cosmopolitanism in term of social media practices with the case of one of the most dominant social network, Twitter.

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Credit: discoursesonliberty.blogspot.com.

With the development of the Internet, social media are becoming a great way for people to gather information in order to stay updated to latest news and events. Furthermore, social media also function as a tool to express sympathy, advocate and support others. Twitter, a dominant social network beside Facebook, is a great platform for such activities. Each tweet (or post) is limited in 140 characters only, which makes it seem to be worthless at first sight. However, Twitter has another small function but is able to create huge influence, the hashtag. By simply attaching the keywords with the letter # in their tweets, users are able to connect with others using the same hashtags and follow the topic created in real time. Short posts allow instant information update and with a huge amount of short posts with hashtags, people are able to capture the big picture in seconds.

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Credit: resourceaholic.com.

Thanks to Twitter and hashtag, cosmopolitanism is developing significantly by crossing many boundaries. People are allowed to connect to ones that are millions of miles apart from them by using the same hashtags. Time can be saved as one single message can be disseminated to a huge amount of people tracking those hashtags. As a result, the influence does not stop at the virtual aspect. Let’s take the example of Ukraine protest since 2014. By using Twitter and the hashtag #euromaidan, protestors are able to connect to others in a massive scale (Bohdanova 2013). People supporting the revolution from all over the world are kept informed by reading tweets posted on a secondly basis. Support from money, food, equipment to medical assistance are gathered by messages sent through Twitter. As a result, the protest exists and develops healthily in spite of government’s pressure (Bohdanova 2013).

mass-demonstration-in-euromaidan
Credit: xoxol.org.

To conclude, cosmopolitanism can be promoted through not only formal channels like conventional media but also informal ones such as social media. In the case of Twitter and the #euromaidan, it can be seen that cosmopolitanism can totally develop significantly in term of citizen journalism. What it needs is the medium, or connection, and the hashtag is a great tool to utilize it.

Reference:

Bohdanova, T 2013,¬†How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement, Global voices, viewed November 1st 2016, <https://globalvoices.org/2013/12/09/how-internet-tools-turned-euromaidan-protests-into-a-movement/&gt;.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding media: The extensions of a man, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.

Waldron, J 2000, ‚ÄėWhat is cosmopolitan?‚Äô,The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243. ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

 

 

BCM240 Final Project reflection.

For the final assignment of BCM240 this session, I have conducted a Facebook-based vines series focusing on Asian stereotypes. During the development process, I have narrowed down the topic to the differences between Asian and Western college environments. The reason leading me to this change is really simple. As an international student in Australia, just like other international students, I encounter several common problems namely language, cultural and lifestyle differences, etc. Moreover, before starting studying in Australia, I had experienced two years of college in Vietnam, my home country, so I have obtained a certain understanding about Asian college life. Therefore, I decided to start this project in order to help other international students like me to overcome the problems and adapt to their new lives better. Furthermore, this is also a great chance to introduce my culture to other Western friends and last but not least, to digitally tell the story of my journey. In this short essay, I will provide an overview of my project.

First of all, I will explain my method used to conduct this project. My main research type is to based on my personal observation and experience. By observing every event happening in all of my classes and compare them to the same events but happening in my former university in Vietnam, I figure out the differences and use them as ideas. The advantage of this method is that all the details are reliable because they are what I experience myself and they fit in the context of storytelling. I am telling my own story so my personal experiences are definitely the most reliable source of information. However, the drawback of this method is once I decided to make a vines series by generalizing all the observed details, they can turn out to be untrue for every case. For example, something I experience in my class in the Law, Humanities and the Art faculty can happen differently in classes of the Business faculty so audiences can think that I take them for granted. About my platform, I decided to choose Facebook rather than Youtube although Youtube is considered the best platform for video sharing. The main reason is, with Facebook, I can exploit my personal friends network so I can obtain an initial support which leads to regular exposure. Moreover, Facebook allows better interaction with viewers as they can comment, comment with picture or tag their friends directly.

Secondly, this project benefits my significantly. Due to the use of Facebook, I have learned the right time to upload my videos to gain the most attention and exposure. I normally share my vines at around 9.30pm because that is when people have finished all their work of the day and start social networking. I also gained more digital literacies as now I have had a certain understanding of basic editing, which I have no idea before I conduct this project. Shooting, trimming, applying sound effects or filters are the dominant skills that I have gained through the process. This project also allows me to realize my strength in visualizing the visual parts of the videos before I even start shooting them. This helps me to save a lot of time and to test a range of ideas without having to actually work on it. However, I recognize one weakness in filtering ideas because I came up with a lot of ideas but I struggled to choose which ones are feasible to turn into real products. Moreover, my collaborator, Mitchell and my audiences provided me with a lot of feedback. I have tried to improve every single video by including music, sound effects and even subtitles, because lots of my audiences are Vietnamese having unequal English proficiency.

Finally, I will mention my evaluation and future plan for the project. In general, I consider this was a successful project as I received a good exposure. On average, each video gains 1500 views and reaches 5000 people on Facebook with a lot of shares. Moreover, feedback from audiences show that they benefit from my contents not only on the entertainment aspect but also on the social angle. My friends who are both current and potential international students from all over the world are now more confident and prepared to solve the problems thanks to my sharing. Moreover, they also share back their own experiences in other environments (US, UK or Europe). Therefore, I will try to consult more people to receive more ideas and may be collaborate with them for more products of this topic. I will also extend my project to other topics such as love, everyday life or sports. With this project, I have learned to do something I like with all my passion and dedication, but in a professional way.

Notes:

My Prezi summary of the project (it takes time to load because I embedded videos): http://prezi.com/8c8r-j_unz0d/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

Cybercrime: go how you f*cking clowns.

Online hacktivism can be considered positive in the way that white-hat hacktivists reveal hidden crimes that are harmful or put pressure on organizations to fight for people’s right. They are the digital Robin Hood, about which I have one blog post which you can check out here.

However, as cyberspace is a¬†world, and just like other worlds, it has both sides. And the other, darker side I want to mention in this post is black-hat hackers. Due to the fact that the information system still contains many gaps that are too hard to be fulfilled as the system is too complicated, several people exploit it and make profit for themselves. Since not a huge proportion of population have understanding in this field, the ones who have gain so much power. And once they have such significant power, it is understandable that their purposes changed from raising people’s voice like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, to stealing people’s credit card, like LulzSec.

This reminds me of a recent phenomena which is the Clown Prank. Clowns are supposed to bring joy to people, and now just because of some idiots pushing the game to far, they become people’s fear and anger. The purpose changes from right and pure, to wrong and dirt. White now turns into black.

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Nonetheless, I still believe that there is a need for the existence of such bad sides, as every society needs them to reflect the good sides, and be a motivation for the good to keep being good, and outplay the bad. Julian Assange or Edward Snowden have so much power, but they choose to be the white-hat, and they will still be.

The black-hat hackers will be hunted by the cyberspace community, just like how the creepy clowns have to defend themselves against Aussie’s anger.

BCM240 Blog Reflection

During my study of BCM240: Media, Audience and Place this semester, blogging is an essential part. Throughout nine weeks engaging in this task, I have gained a certain understanding of how to properly write posts, design blog as well as engage with others to build a media place of my own. Therefore, in this short piece of writing, I will briefly explain my nine-week blogging experience.

First of all, one of my important aims when performing this task is to familiarize myself with research blogging. According to Zivkovic 2011, one feature of research blogging is to discover and explain new research. Therefore, I always try to come up with new findings supported by previous research effort in every single post of mine. Thanks to the guidance I received from lectures, tutorials and weekly materials, I am able to partly understand how research is properly conducted to gather information supporting personal opinions to make them more persuasive to readers. Only by approaching readings and sources can I design a good resource to show readers that although my presented opinions are original, they are concluded based on critically analysing others‚Äô ideas. For example, in my final project proposal, in order to prove that my idea approach of making vines is reasonable, I had reached a range of sources from articles explaining the advantages of the genre, posts analysing my choice of platform to ones that inspire me to choose the particular topic for my content. This is also one part of the feedback I received from Task 1 as my tutor encouraged me to include additional sources because they can ‚Äėadd weight to my discussion and compliment my insights nicely‚Äô. By doing this, I am able to reinforce my own thinking as well as to review and figure out other details to add in and make it better.

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Secondly, I have achieved knowledge of how to engage with readers throughout the blogging process. One suggestion from Connell 2016 is to mention others in my posts in order to create traffic. I find this suggestion really useful in the way that when I link my post to related bloggers, they will be able to know, read and contribute ideas. Moreover, I also have the opportunity to reinforce my existing ideas as well as to approach new way of thinking to enrich my understanding. For instance, when writing about my experience of reading other people‚Äôs interviews, I mentioned several peers whose blogs I found interesting and useful. As a result, some of them realized then followed by blog and gave me suggestions. In the feedback I received for Task 1, my tutor suggested me to link my blog to other blogs and websites to improve my media space so I designed one category called ‚ÄėFriends and Fellows‚Äô on my blog showing people that I follow and interact regularly with. Moreover, links to other websites that are of my interest are also included. My tutor also suggested me to have additional hashtags, which I found really useful as I used to include hashtags related to UOW and BCM240 network only. By adding in hashtags that are relevant to the topic, I am able to reach potential readers in various fields. According to Connell 2016, publishing content often is a good way to engage with readers. Therefore, I maintain my blogging momentum by publishing at least 2 posts a week in order to be active online. As a result, there are familiar users that follow and comment on my blog quite regularly.

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Thirdly, I have improved the quality of my blog by understanding how to address the problem in a constructive way. Stated by Williams, one attribute of constructive communication is to be problem-oriented. Therefore, in every single blog, I always try to focus on the main problems that are raised. Zenger 2014 also suggests to start with theories as the foundation for further discussion. I found this tip useful in the way that an academic theory will set the base for the post as it provides readers with a general idea about the topic. Another advantage of this approach is I am able to have a reliable supporting argument for my opinions. For instance, when writing about one of my cinema experience and relating that experience to the notion of space and place, I began by citing Hagerstrand’s three constraints and analyse my case based on them. Furthermore, this task allowed me to be more aware of the importance of using examples to support my arguments. Including examples or real-life case studies enabled me to justify my ideas as well as to clarify them for readers. For example, in my blog post explaining the Australian Classification Board and its influence on the idea of media space and place, I analysed the example of the movie Star Wars: The force awakens as a related case.

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Finally, I have gained understanding of how to use my blog to engage with the ideas of the subject. I have been blogging for three sessions so far but before doing this subject, I still considered blog is just a place for one-way communication. However, at the moment I realized that blog is also a media space where information is conveyed flexibly between writers and readers, which also leads to the trend of user-generated content as I am able to gather new content from people engaging with my blog. This is an important transition that turns user into produser (Bruns 2006). Therefore, in order for my readers to feel like being in a real media space rather than a reading website, I have done a lot to improve my blog. For example, in this session I have designed categories on top of the site for readers to navigate easily, linked my blog to other platforms (Twitter, Facebook) so people can have a ‚Äėmedia convergence‚Äô experience (Jenkins 2006) and included different types of media (pictures, videos, inforgraphics, memes) for users to really engaged in a media space when interacting with my blog.

To conclude, nine weeks of blogging in BCM240: Media, audience and place this semester have been a great experience for me so far. I have been able to develop my skills in research blogging, understand how to engage with readers effectively, gain knowledge about constructively address problems and above all, use my blog as a tool to practice what I have learned in the subject. This will undoubtedly be a memorable and useful experience in my media journey here in UOW, as well as in my future career.

References:

Bruns, Axel 2006, Towards Produsage: Futures for User-Led Content Production. In Sudweeks, Fay and Hrachovec, Herbert and Ess, Charles, Eds. Proceedings Cultural Attitudes towards Communication and Technology 2006, pages pp. 275-284, Tartu, Estonia.

Connell, Adam 2016, How to boost engagement on your blog (so it doesn’t look like a ghost town), Blogging Wizard, viewed September 30th 2016, <http://www.bloggingwizard.com/reader-engagement/&gt;.

Jenkins, Henry 2006, Welcome to the convergence culture, The official weblog of Henry Jenkins, viewed October 1st 2016, <http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html&gt;.

Williams, Scott, Communicating constructively, Wright State University, viewed September 30th 2016, <http://www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/LeaderLetter/communicating.htm&gt;.

Zenger, T 2014, Start with a theory, not a strategy, Harvard Business Review, viewed September 30th 2016, <https://hbr.org/2014/06/start-with-a-theory-not-a-strategy&gt;.

Zivkovic, Bora 2011, What is: Research Blogging, Scientific American, viewed September 2016, <http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/network-central/what-is-researchblogging-org/&gt;.