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.

Humans and animals relationship: we all share this world.

We humans are living a world that are homes of millions of other creatures. We are fully aware of this, but we are also aware that we are the most superior among all species. Indeed, human beings are ones that have developed themselves comprehensively in terms of both physical and mental aspects, which can be seen in our civilization today. With all the achievements going far beyond other animals’ capability that we have gained, we can proudly say we are the most developed.

No matter how developed and superior humans are, it cannot be denied we are also animals. It is the same as a $600,000 Rolls Royce Phantom and a $20,000 Toyota Corolla, they are both cars no matter what. Therefore, human beings have to view the relationship between them and all other species as co-existing, as we all share this world together. However, humans tend to assume that they are as superior as they can exploit other animals in order to serve their purposes, which can be defined as “speciesism” (Horta 2010) . I am not talking about the fact that humans eat other animals, because that is how life works. The strongest stay on top of the food chain, and vice versa. I want to mention the way we look at our relationships with other animals and the way we treat them in regard with that relationship.

are-humans-animals

Species tend to pay attention and have a good impression on ones that are similar them to some certain degree. That is how they realize members of their communities as well as of communities within the same lines (Coppinger 2017). As what you can see in this video, the baby tiger and the house cat get along well with each other because they can recognize that the other are in the same Felidae lines (the cats family) , although they are different species. Humans are no exception. We are interested in seeing animals imitate us in terms of expression or gestures which are visible elements (Charles 2017). In return, animals understand that and they do attempt to impress humans in certain ways. Let’s look at several examples:

It was not 100% accurate, but no doubt we can say they did try 100% of their ability.

This is a really touching short film featuring an old Japanese woman living alone with two cats. Her husband passed away years ago and this is still breaking her heart now. Understanding that their owner still feels upset thinking about her husband, the two cats learn how to perform human-like gestures in order to cheer her up. Obviously this film is staged to a certain degree, but it cannot be denied that the emotions it conveys are genuine.

The two examples clearly show that our pets in particular, and animals in general, do want to co-exist with humans in a respectful way. We like them to perform like us, and they do understand that. Therefore, in order to make our relationship with other species a mutual and co-existing connection, we should do the same in return (Howard 2014). “Instead of respecting their wildness, humans want to hold, cuddle, feed and photograph orangutans; they want to treat orangutans as if they were human … [which has] caused them to become endangered by a rampant pet and zoo trade” (Sowards 2011). This is not how it should be working. Animals show their respect by allowing humans to perform natural habitats and even adapting themselves to it, so why can’t we do the same ? We want to express our love to orangutans, but we are doing it the wrong way. We want them to be happy, but how can they be happy when feeling uncomfortable not being in their natural status ?

Humans and all other animals co-exist in this world, that is obvious. In order to co-exist harmoniously, humans have to know how to respect other species, especially when we are the superior. Try to understand them, and if possible, adapt ourselves to it. This can be seen in this another video, when humans finally try how to please cats, but in cats’ way.

It did not work 100%, but at least they tried.

Reference:

Charles, N 2017, ‘Written and spoken words: representations of animals and intimacy’, Sociological Review,  Vol. 65 Issue 1, pp. 117-133.

Coppinger, B 2017, ‘Studying audience effects in animals: What we can learn from human language research’, Animal Behaviour,  Vol. 124, pp. 161-165.

Howard, D 2014, Human and Animal Relationships, Springer, New York.

Horta, O 2010, ‘What is Speciesism?’, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental EthicsVolume 23, Issue 3, pp 243–266.

Sowards, S. K 2011, Gender representations in orangutan primatological narratives: Essentialist interpretations of sexuality, motherhood, and women, Berghahn Books, USA.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Blog Reflection.

Throughout the process of studying BCM288, I have come up with a range of topics which provide me with a comprehensive knowledge about transnational media and culture. In this blog, I will briefly summary my understanding achieved from the course.

First of all, I have understood the meaning of this field of study to media audiences. This is the era where communication is so developed that people are no longer want to stay solely within their native culture and network anymore. Beyond that, they want to approach a range of different cultures and perspectives. Therefore, it is witnessed that different types of media with various content and origins are being enjoyed by audiences with diverse backgrounds. MasterChef, an Australian series creating a huge wave in India or If you are the one, a Chinese dating reality show being famous in Australia are several dominant examples. This phenomenon sets the foundation for ‘intercultural communication’, in which media content is able to approach a massive and diverse amount of audience by conveying universal values. It is understandable because according to Rohn 2009, universal values ‘can be detached from any culture’.

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Credit: Photobucket.

Secondly, knowledge about transnational culture and media is also beneficial for media producers. Due to the fact that audiences are looking for transnational media product, producers have to seek ways to satisfy that demand. As a result, cooperative events such as film festivals are established to provide producers with chances to meet, interact and exchange ideas (Stringer 2001). These kinds of events also promote co-production, which can be understood as the collaboration of producers to create hybrid products once they have achieved a common understanding. Film festivals varies from large and broad events namely Cannes, Berlin or London film festivals to small and centralized ones in Busan or Istanbul. Moreover, co-production can also attract government’s investment on cultural and media industries as producers are able to show their potential by working together (Kwon and Kim 2013).

palais-des-festivals-de-cannes
Credit: 48hourfilm.com.

Finally, I am taught to overcome barriers to be a part of cosmopolitanism. According to McLuhan 1964, with the help of technology and the Internet, the world is transitioning into a ‘global village’ where global citizens communicate across barriers. Stated by Waldron 2000, cosmopolitanism is when “all human beings belong to a single community”. Therefore, the Internet and other digital communication tools are providing me with not only opportunities but also responsibility to know, sympathize and support what is happening around me in a large scale. Wider news coverage about world issues raises the awareness of people about being more updated to be able to realize, understand, maintain what is good and fix what is not.  Virtual cosmopolitanism is a great movement for young people to turn social media practices, which used to be considered daily activities, into something really meaningful by broadening their network, achieving cultural understanding and forming new ‘third cultures’ (McEwan and Sobre-Denton, 2011).

global-village-aiesec-surat
Credit: wslr.org.

To conclude, studying BCM288 allows me to understand the importance of transnational media and culture, which is essential to me as a person and in my future career working in the field of media. The subject raises my awareness that although there are still gaps and challenges in co-production or media piracy, the benefits of being actively engaged with intercultural practices to be a cosmopolitan and a global citizen are still significant.

References:

Kwon, S H and Kim, J 2013, ‘From censorship to active support: The Korean state and Korea’s cultural industries’, The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 24(4), pp.517-532.

McEwan, B and Sobre-Denton, M, 2011, Virtual cosmopolitanism: ‘Constructing third cultures and transmitting social and cultural capital through social media’, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 4(4), pp.252-258.

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

Rohn, U 2009, Cultural Barriers to the Success of Foreign Media Content, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, Germany.

Stringer, J 2001, ‘Global cities and the international film festival economy’, Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context, pp.134-144.

Waldron, J 2000, ‘What is cosmopolitan?’, The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243.           

 

Twitter hashtag: a new level of cosmopolitanism.

We are living in a world of cosmopolitanism, which can be understood as “all human beings belong to a single community, based on a shared morality” (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 “global village” (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.

cosmo-slow
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.

hashtag
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, ‘What is cosmopolitan?’,The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243.              

 

 

Media piracy: on the bright side.

It is obvious that in order to create high quality media content, the producers have to spend a lot of time and effort on the work. Therefore, they are deserved to receive in return what is respective with their dedication, in terms of both materiality and mentality (Karaganis 2011).

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Credit: The American Assembly.

Currently, media producers are struggling with a phenomenon when their products are being distributed in a massive amount, at a low cost and most importantly, without their awareness and permission. This is what is defined by Karaganis 2011 as ‘media piracy’. ‘Media piracy’ is more likely to happen in developing countries where policies against copyright infringement are not as effective as that in developed nations. Furthermore, even in developed countries, media piracy still exists in the form of consumer goods in grocery stores, especially those of immigrants. For example, in Australia, it is totally possible to buy un-authorized DVDs with a relatively low price in, for example, Asian or Indian grocery stores (Athique 2006).This notion is serious in the way that media content is made available at a much lower price than what the producers want and the money earned is not going into their accounts.

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Credit: WordPress.

However, this situation can also have a bright side. According to Karaganis 2011, ‘high prices for media goods, low incomes and cheap digital technologies’ are the main reasons leading to media piracy. As mentioned before, media piracy is more popular in developing countries, where have lower living standard so people have to spend their little earnings on many expenses, which makes official, copyrighted media products something too luxurious.  Therefore, the question is: “Do people have unequal right of consuming media content because of their different circumstances? “. In this way, media piracy brings about the ‘mentality’ return (mentioned above) to producers as it promotes media circulation and distribution by giving chances to more audiences to consume (Jenkins 2004). This argument is reasonable in the way that without exposure, or audiences, media content is just worthless regardless of the quality because no one realizes or even knows about it. Therefore, media piracy can be considered a trade-off for media producers.

internet-piracy-intro
Credit: MakeUseOf.com.

On a whole, if media producers want to create high quality, not just ‘high grossing’ products, this is what they want to achieve. With a larger amount of audiences, media producers and their products are more likely to be known and recognized. This explains why nowadays more and more artists are choosing to distribute their products publicly on digital platforms for free. Latest hits or music videos with high quality are released online requiring no fees for audiences. In this way, media producers promote their reputation both in number and scale, which can earn them money in return from advertising activities or concert.

References:

Athique, Adrian Mabbott 2006, ‘Bollywood and ‘grocery store’ video piracy in Australia’, Media international Australia, no. 121, pp. 41-51.

Karaganis, J 2011, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, Social Science Research Council, United States of America.

Jenkins, H 2004, When Piracy Becomes Promotion, MIT Technology Review, viewed October 24th 2016, <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/402969/when-piracy-becomes-promotion/&gt;.

 

 

 

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