About me

Hi all,

My name is Cuong Lam and I am studying the Bachelor of Communication and Media studies at the University of Wollongong – Australia.

As a part of my degree, blogging is an essential aspect. Therefore, this blog will be the main platform where I upload contents relating to my course throughout my studying here in Australia. This is also where I share my opinions about my everyday matters to the public as well as updating the progress of whatever projects I am working on.

Here are my contact details for anyone that concerns:

Email: bcl987@uowmail.edu.au
Twitter: @clamxcat

I hope to make as many friends and receive as many feedback and comments as possible on my blog.

Thank you.
Cuong Lam.

Advertisements

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).

vulture-child

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.

lead_large

“If I don’t 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).

madonnamalawi

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’s easy to hate ‘poverty porn’ 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.

placeit

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.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-23-48-53

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.

6ca

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’.

2e904911a27f2afb6cdd97b3f6e31f2b

“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.

BCM212 Research Proposal

In order to accomplish BCM212: Research Practices in Media and Communication this semester at UOW, I have to actually conduct a research. Therefore, in this post I will briefly explain my idea, purpose and approach to this project.

1ex3pd
This is really frustrating. It’s just week 3 😦

First of all, I will indicate the idea of my research project. As a young person and a student, future career is always among my greatest concerns and I strongly believe that my peers share the same interest. Therefore, choosing the field of study at university level is an essential decision because this is one of the very last stages before we get involved in the working world and the knowledge we acquire at school takes up the most space in our baggage to start this journey. However,  while some graduates apply what they have learnt into their jobs, others keep changing work areas sharing no relation to their degrees. Therefore, I want to examine how university students make their decision to declare major and to what degree do they consider their fields of study important to their future career.

honey-badger-meme
In some senses, maybe I  applied to UOW only because the campus is smoke-free.

Secondly, let me explain how I came up with this idea. Before I came to Australia to study Communication and Media, I used to be a Business student back in Vietnam, my home country. With the desire to become a businessman, I spent two years on this degree until realizing it was totally unsuitable and gave up. Following my elder brother’s suggestion about the media field which I had never thought of before, I started to research about it, then felt curious and came here. Therefore, I thoroughly understand that there are always potentials for us to be interested in something that stay out of our understanding. This is what Emily Graslie mentioned in her TED speech: ‘You will not feel curious about one thing if you do know it exists’. I relate this idea to the notion of reflexivity as students may make decision to choose field of study based on either their perception of themselves (Soros 2009) (what they like, what they are good at, etc) or perception/recognition of others about them (Taylor 1992) . A person can think of him in one way based on someone’s reflection on him but that perception can change if he comes up with other reflection of someone else.

a8ccd7e58d074b4e4b966b34291ffc8d0648dca74de1f1aa49d6432294d1a738
Somehow true ?

Finally, I will propose my possible approach. My main method will be directly interviewing students within UOW and conducting online survey. The questions will be designed to figure out the following:

  • What factors brought them to the decision to choose their current field of study, and whether those are objective or subjective.
  • Have they ever thought of (or felt curious about) studying something different from their current major.
  • To what degree do they think their current major will be relevant to their future career and why they think so.

blog_3

Above is my brief proposal for my upcoming research project and it is still early to say whether I will stay with this idea until the end because I may again feel curious about something else based on other reflection 😛

Reference:

Soros, G 2009, General Theory of Reflexivity, Financial Times, viewed March 8th 2017, <https://www.ft.com/content/0ca06172-bfe9-11de-aed2-00144feab49a#axzz425HnJh93&gt;.

Taylor, C 1992, “Multiculturalism and the politics of recognition”, Princeton University Press, USA.

Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious.

So finally I am back with uni after a long holiday back in my country to start a new semester, which means I am also back with blogging (which I have been abandoned for quite a while). This very first blog post of the semester will be for BCM112 – Research Practices in Media and Communication about an experience of mine about curiosity in learning.

To be honest, I do not enjoy studying. I find it is hard to stay focused for a long time reading pages and pages of theories or accomplishing tasks (although that feeling of submitting assessments is awesome). However, I have to admit that I did feel curious about learning, at least once, about which I am going to tell you in this post.

A bit about me, I am an international student from Vietnam. Before coming here in Australia, I did two years of college in Vietnam studying Business. Unfortunately, I did not find it suitable for me so I decided to give up, come here and start over again in Communication and Media. So far so good, although I have only finished a year and a half, still one more semester to reach the two-year mark so I cannot tell for sure whether I will stay still or quit again and do something else (just kidding, my parents will kick me out of the house if I come back and say I quit again so I will not).

Since I major in Marketing, I was excited about things I would learn in the first semester. Before Enrollment Day, I imagined about subjects that I would take such as ones in Advertising, Marketing or Public Relations. However, one really really really strange subject came up following the faculty’s suggestion: PHIL106, a philosophy subject. At that moment, I was frustrated and questions kept popping into my head: “I am a Media and Marketing student, what would I do with philosophy ? I do not need this. I come here to do something else’. And from that moment on, I realized how I feel about this event, and as you can all tell: CURIOUS.

9mtzfo5

That was exactly what Emily Graslie said in her TED speech about the value of curiosity in 2015: ‘You will not feel curious about one thing if you do know it exists’. I kept feeling curious about this subject as the first few weeks passed by and I still could not find the purpose in doing it. However, by the end of the semester, I could really understand that things happen for a reason, and I did PHIL106 for a reason: it is a core subject, I have to do it……. Just kidding, I did enjoy it as it set a foundation for me to be respectful to other people’s perspectives, which is an essential element for all those working in Media and Marketing field.

curiosity2beinstein

That was my story of how I first feel curious about studying here in Australia. It made a pretty good start for my journey here and made me curious about all the strange subjects at the beginning of each semester, although at the moment I am still curious about some of them that I did as I could not really tell the point in doing them (or simply because I hated them).

So that is the point, things do happen for reasons so it is important to stay hungry and foolish in studying, by which I mean we should be curious in learning as it might enhance the progress or at least create a motivation for us at the beginning, according to Charan Ranganath and Matthias Gruber in their findings about the impact of curiosity to the brain.

I feel curious about learning new things, I always have and I always will.

Global communication development: when is the end ?

It has been a long time since it took three months to send a dinner invitation to the first commercial electric telegraph which reduced that amount to weeks and now, the Internet era, when the whole world knows about your dinner date in seconds. All those inventions turned the world from incoherent parts into a whole body.

Because it is a body, it needs to grow. So the question is, when will the body reach maturity, or when is the end for technology development ?

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, in 1899.

We hear the same sentence every year about technology saturation. But every year witnesses new breakthroughs shaking that thought. Never before have anyone thought of augmented reality, and now we can travel across the world sitting at home with a VR headset. More barriers will be broken in near future with such technologies like real-time language translation devices or direct thought transmission.

pIPzbfJ

The same question will be asked and the same answer will remain. But hey, save money, because it is just the beginning.

 

 

Media convergence: into the communication maze

A 15-year-old unknown boy becomes a world popstar or an unknown cat becomes the face of Uniqlo, these two cases have one thing in common: they got famous from home-made Youtube videos. They are just two of a thousands examples of self-created contents that spread out in a global scale. All of them are the proof that now people are able to control the media and that is part of what we call ‘media convergence’.

Thanks to globalisation, we have the Internet. Thanks to globalisation, we have more media platforms. Those two factors contribute creating a significantly interactive communication system around the world.

At the moment, people can read different newspapers with different categories, watch various movies of various genres or listen to many songs of many kinds. They can do all those stuffs just in a single tap. They are in our smartphones. We have the world in our pocket and access to it on our fingertip.

That is media convergence: we have what we want.

At this moment, I am writing a blog that can be read by the whole world. At this moment three days ago in my lecture, I was tweeting for the whole world. And in every single minutes, other people are creating contents for the whole world themselves.

That is more of media convergence: we create what we want.

The media power is shifting from the producers to the audiences. It is a business so the providers have to satisfy the users. Users want something, then they are provided with it. ABC readers want to read news on their laptop besides watching on TV, they have an ABC web version. Then they want to access news on their smartphones, ABC makes an app version. In other points of view, media power is holding still. It is the role of people using it which changes. From the examples mentioned above, it can be seen that users produce what they want to consume by themselves. User and producer, we have ‘produser‘.

In this bright side, media convergence is a positive movement. In another not-too-bright side, it can be not-too-positive that contents can be overloaded. Everyone has the power to create contents and disseminate to others so the amount of information is massive. Interacting with that huge amount on a daily basis affects the way we think and develop our own ideas. Therefore, in this media convergence era, it is essential for users not to get lost in this communication maze and create the right content as the key to get out of it.

Reference:

Adib, D 2009, Pop Star Justin Bieber Is on the Brink of Superstardom, ABC News, viewed 2nd April 2016,

<http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Weekend/teen-pop-star-justin-bieber-discovered-youtube/story?id=9068403&gt;

Gianatasio, D 2012, Maru, the Internet’s Top Cat, Goes to Work for Uniqlo, AdWeek, viewed 2nd April 2016,

<http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/maru-internets-top-cat-goes-work-uniqlo-143343&gt;

2015, Henry Jenkins, online video, 21st September 2009, Youtube, viewed 2nd April 2016,

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibJaqXVaOaI&gt;

2016, ABC News, viewed 2nd April 2016,

<http://abcnews.go.com/US/fullpage/abc-news-app-iphone-android-windows-29054814&gt;

2008, Produsage.ord, viewed 2nd April 2016,

<http://produsage.org/produsage&gt;