Author Archive

Week 11 – Research Interviewing

May 25, 2010

Weerakkody in their writing, “Research Interviewing” highlights the importance of developing an appropriate interviewing technique during the qualitative research process. The author makes some important observations about the holistic approach to research interviewing from the styles of interviewing, how to approach and treat an interviewee, the advantages, disadvantages and types of research interviews, and the application of these interviews. This reading contains numerous concepts applicable to the first part of Assignment 3 for the Art 1090 course.

The author notes the use of semi-structured interview which allows open ended questions, providing a “mixture of both the respondent’s and the researcher’s points of view” (Weerakkody 2009, p. 167). Similarly, this level of flexibility is further enhanced through unstructured interviews which allow unique characteristics and circumstances to be considered through open ended discussion with the respondent. I believe this form of interviewing technique will be applicable when interviewing my subject for the third assignment. This will allow me to grasp an understanding of the subject’s views regarding their media usage as well as enable me to direct the interview through certain open ended questions. Similarly, I will be able to use a mix of descriptive, structural and contrast questions. For example: an ‘experience question’ might be, “can you give me an example of how you believe you used your iPhone to improve your mobility?” Alternatively I may ask a ‘contrast question’ such as “What is the difference between using an iPhone as oppose to a regular mobile telephone and how has this impacted on your life?” “What was it like before the iPhone?”

I believe an important point raised by the author is the importance of developing a rapport with the interviewee and ensuring they are treated “fairly, with respect and politely” (Weerakkody 2009, p. 174).

When collecting and analysing the data, particularly for Assignment 3, it is important to note the disadvantages, or limitations associated with research interviews and Weerakkody notes.

In explaining the types and genres of qualitative research interviews, the author notes ethnographic conversation, depth interviews, group interviews, narrative interviews and postmodern interviews. Of most relevance to assignment 3 I believe is depth interviews as Weerakkody notes, these types of interviews “are often used in media and communication research.” (Weerakkody 2009, p. 178).

Liamputtong in the reading, ‘Writing a Qualitative Research Report’ unlike Weerakkody focuses on the actual construction of a research paper to report on your qualitative research. This is very much applicable to the second part of Assignment 3 for this course. I believe the core argument of this writing is that qualitative research is about being able to produce and report on results such that they can be read and inform others of the results in a “convincing argument” (Liamputtong 2009, p.317) of a particular research project.

An important point I gauged from the reading was that of structure and the need to ensure “careful attention to structure and meaning” (Liamputtong 2009, p. 318). This is due to the fact that qualitative writing will often include discussion throughout the entire paper which, if not structured properly, can often lead to confusion for a reader and the potential to sway from the specific point or topic area.

When considering the structure of a qualitative research report, the author notes the importance of giving consideration to the audience. In this instance, Assignment 3 is written for submission to the Arts Faculty and as such will require a basic academic approach. Communicating your research effectively to your target audience can be done through selecting an appropriate writing format such as a report, article or book. In the instance of Assignment 3, the research will be presented in a report format, however in all three instances, the author has noted the importance of developing and maintaining a clear structure, with key components, sequence and content with flows smoothly, with linkages to previous paragraphs and chapters.

Both authors have clearly identified mechanisms to ensure that qualitative research and qualitative research reporting writing is capable of producing the most effective results. Some main concepts I have taken from these readings, which can be applied to Assignment 3 of this course include that of:

  • Appropriate interview technique, questions and approach to the interviewee;
  • Maintaining structure and linkages in the report writing process and using graphics to support discussion; and
  • Producing innovation and well connected research reports through appropriate selection of report format, effective analysis of research findings and communication of the key issues.
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Week 10 – Semiotics and Meaning

May 18, 2010

The core argument in Schirato and Yell’s reading regarding semiotics and the development of new theories about meaning is associated with two main concepts:

  1. Words are problematic; and
  2. There are differing meanings of words and these can be manipulated to suit certain acts and experiences

These two concepts are very much drawn upon by Volosinov who highlights the importance associated with words and their potential to create problematic situations. Similarly, through this, he highlights the importance of context in manipulating meanings of words. For example the value and meaning of a woman (or signifier) and the way they are treated in a culture is representative of the “ideological struggle” (Schirato and Yell 2001, p.26) associated with meaning and differing contexts. If women are associated with domesticity, lack of freedom and unprofessionalism, it is difficult to change the conditions in which they find themselves and the cultural perceptions of this gender.

Similarly, the politics of meaning as described by the authors through the use of the white settlement/invasion example depict how the through various strategies only one set of meanings are conveyed as the most rational, sensible and truthful. As the authors note, this creates a “conflict over meanings” (Schirato and Yell 2001, p. 33).

Lury applies this concept of influencing context and opinion through describing the widespread use of the logo sign and symbol, its positioning and content. The author notes that “marks or logos organise a process of identification, presenting a mark of social identity” (Lury 2004, p.75). Using this example, Lury is able to highlight the importance of this semiotic approach, in creating a symbolic and iconic item (or recognisable logo) and influencing individual’s perceptions and behaviour linked to certain products. Through strategies such as repetition, brand positioning, personification, indexing (secondness) and iconic figures/symbols (physiognomics), Lury highlights how the logo is able to “focus and channel sense and meaning” (Lury 2004, p.78) whether it be to users, consumers, company officials or the general public. For example, the use of Virgins CEO Richard Branson as a logo, the use of Dick Smith as the product name for Australian condiments and other products, Nike linking the use of their products with iconic sporting individuals, Kleenex or Kodak which has a ‘no-nonsense’ tone which is easy to commit to memory. All these examples, as Lury notes, have a “lasting, emotional tie with consumers” (Lury 2004, p. 90).

Week 9 – Media Audiences

May 11, 2010

The core argument in Hadden’s reading is the increasing complexity associated with communications and technology including:

  • the ways in which we can influence the use of and place limitations on the use of technology;
  • the evolution of media and its connection to historical technologies; and
  • the changes in human routines to complement the changing technology.

Through this, the author has highlighted the benefits associated with the totality of communication practices and notes the relationships between these elements.

I believe the overriding point which can be extracted from this reading is that of the linkages of modern dynamics of technology and human behaviour with its history. Hadden notes that technological advancements are not solely associated with the creation of ‘new’ technologies, but rather simply the use of older technologies in new ways and increasing complexity (continuities between media). “The arrival of new ICTs leads us to use pre-existing objects in new ways and in general increases the complexity of communication practices” (Hadden 2005, p.12). For example: mobile phones have not displaced the land line, and text messaging has not displaced phone calls, rather these innovations have complemented the historic communication practices. This can also be seen in technologies such as the iPhone, where services such as the internet have not eliminated use of the internet on home computers, but rather provided an additional service through which to access to internet.

Through observing the totality of communication practices we can see the evolution of technology as not solely associated with the invention of new technologies but rather the development of more complex communication options through enhancing  existing technologies. These ultimately influence and complement the changing actions and habits of individual’s communication patterns, and the social acceptance of certain communication choices. For example: sending an email instead of posting a letter to announce a significant event or moment. This can be seen in the use of Facebook as an event organiser. Historically, inviting people to an event was done through personal initiations, sent to their address in hard copy. Nowadays, most events I attend have been organised through Facebook with no invitations posted to individuals.

Hadden notes that the limitations associated with her writing and suggests that she has not discussed social consequences associated with this changing balance. I believe that the evolution of this form of communication and changing human behaviour has had both positive and negative social consequences. Evolving communication material and the acceptance of these practices such as email and messaging has enabled a more instant and potentially efficient form of communication amongst its users, however in many instances I can see it fostering disconnection and a lack of intimacy/personalisation amongst individuals.  Social networking sites such as Facebook, while enabling more frequent contact, do not provide opportunity for physical contact. This limits intimacy and personal connection through things such as mass internet Facebook event invites as oppose to personalised invites which are posted or hand delivered.

Week 8: Networks

May 4, 2010

In his writing, Castells core argument revolves around the concept of networks, the network society and social networks, which have evolved through the informational paradigm and lead to social transformation and the emergence of a new social structure involving shared communication between cultures.

In this reading I found it interesting how the author makes some clear connections with concepts studied in preceding lectures and tutorials including the convergence and mediation associated with time and space and the transcendence of barriers associated with these latter two concepts (time and space). It is noted that “technologies are increasingly diffused” (Castells 2005, p.7) or rather there is a convergence of communication and information technologies which support the emergence of the new social structure of the network society.

Castells also notes the “two emergent social forms of time and space” which “characterize the network society” (Castells 2005, p.36). Like previous authors such as Moores and Scannell, Castells highlights the ability of technological evolution to enable the possibly of simultaneous practice and time sharing in networked spaces. However it is interesting to note how the author furthers these concepts by demonstrating their ability to foster a networked society and a culture of shared communication.  Castells notes the importance of communication as the cornerstone of the network society: “The culture of the network society is a culture of protocols and communication between all cultures in the world, developed on the basis of a common belief in the power of networking and of the synergy obtained by giving to others and receiving from others” (Castells 2005, p.40).

The concepts of convergence and mediation associated with time and space in the creation of social networks and communication amongst cultures can be seen in examples such as YouTube as noted by Rizzoe in her writing “Programming Your Own Channel” and the Apple iPod. File sharing, and downloading different types of media, both of which can be undertaken on these devices, as well as the concept of mobility which is enabled through devices such as the Apple iPod, is an example of the changing communication and social networks “encouraging new forms of interaction” (Rizzoe 2007, p.129) and shaping cultural forms of practices associated with older basic technologies such as the analog television.

Mobility

April 20, 2010

The main concept in Volker’s reading “mobile media space” is associated with the embedding of virtual spaces in to physical spaces. I found the core discussion regarding this concept to be based around these types of spaces and the perceived potential threats to reality associated with media technologies and the creation of virtual space.

Volker uses the examples of social mobile software such as Semapedia and Socialight to provide examples of ways in which the virtual world is connected with the physical world. As she notes. “Semapedia’s barcodes intermediate as simultaneously physical and virtual places between real and digital virtual spaces” (Volker 2007, p. 135). It is interesting to note the immediacy associated with obtaining information offered by these social mobile softwares and the introduction of mobile phones and the internet. This is particularly important considering societies current time demand pressures where there is a general concept that everything needs to be achieved ‘yesterday’.

I found the concept of Socialite and Sticky Shadow to be similar to that recently introduced where drivers, through their mobile phones can access information regarding the location of mobile speed cameras, RBTs and red light cameras. Updates to the link are posted by drivers who pass these sites and available to all those who wish to access it. While this concept is not quite as detailed and extensive as Socialite, it provides an example of the linkages between virtual spaces and physical coordinates.     

The author notes the historical background associated with the emergence of digital media technology, virtual spaces and reality, and it is interesting to note the changing, and in some instances unchanging behaviours and attitudes linked to the integration of digital space and the relationship between virtuality and reality.  Volker captures the attitude of Baudrillard who labelled electronic media technologies as those which create “an indistinguishable copy of ‘reality’” (p.136).

It was interesting to note the similar historic perspectives associated with digital media technology and its perceived inability to allow human interaction and the creation of space. Auge (1995) justifies this perspective by noting that spaces created by mobile technologies as “not configured by inscriptions of history, relation and identity”…rather they are “non-places” (Volker 2007, p. 138).  Similarly, Morse notes this technology and the creation of non spaces as that which causes one to become “disengaged from the paramount orientation to reality” (Volker 2007, p. 138). While I can understand the perspectives taken by these authors, I believe that applications such as Semapedia and Socialite have offered an alternative way of completing certain tasks, which happen to portray aspects of convenience, instantaneity and mobility. Volker also argues against these historical views, suggesting that digitally generated spaces do not threaten reality but are rather “information places and as such entirely real” (Volker 2007, p. 140).

Supporting Volker’s argument, Ito in the writing ‘Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth, and the Replacement of the Social Contact’ suggests that mobile technology, in particular the mobile phone do not “erode the integrity of existing places or social attitudes” (Ito 2005, p.131). The author makes an interesting point that usage and characteristics associated with these mobile devices are not determined by the device, but rather the “social and cultural context and power relations” (Ito 2005, p. 131). I believe this is a valid point, and in many instances, the impact and effects of media technologies, mobility and virtual spaces is very much dependent on the individual who chooses to adopt its use and to what extent. Further, in drawing conclusions from her study, Ito suggests that the mobile phone is “not inherently a device that disrupts existing social norms and places” (Ito 2005, p. 146), a theory unlike that suggested by authors such as Auge and Morse.

I found it interesting to note the final concept offered by Volker in her reading where she suggests that mobility does not have to mean a change of real physical space, but can rather mean changing virtual space while remaining at the same real place. Providing this opportunity for people to connect to environments virtually is important considering the increasing time limitations and pressures associated with today’s society.

Week 2 Domestication

April 10, 2010

The core argument contained in Silverstone’s “Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept” is the concept of the integration of public and private spaces, or the crossing of boundaries, and its impact on societies morals and household structures. As Silverstone questions, “how does such [technological] innovation enable a better world, and a more responsible and more sustainable relationship with the world which it now brings more and more radically into focus?” (Silverstone, p. 247).

I noted Silverstone’s comment that “domestication was something human beings did to enhance and secure their everyday lives” (Silverstone, p. 231). This idea of adding meaning to the lives of individuals highlights the importance of the relationship between technology and people. For example, while writing this blog I am currently listening to my family sitting around the television watching the Saturday night rugby league. There are loud yells and cheers and a clear connection, interest and care towards the game on the TV. This has clearly added meaning to their evening, highlighting one of the many concepts associated with domestication.

The influence of this media in the function of the household is reflective of Silverstone’s concept of conversion. While the public has created an innovative piece of technology influencing households, through choices such as channel selection and the ability to switch off the TV, individuals perceive that they have the “power to control their own private space, their own media ecology”. This process of domestication, and the introduction of the TV into households is representative of social change and the breakdown of borders that were once presumed to be defining feature of a household (Silverstone, p. 233). This is restructuring of the household is also linked the two core strategies of domestication – objectification and incorporation.

Domestication has fostered a shared culture and social space as highlighted by Silverstone. (p. 243). It has enabled the establishment of connections and relationships between household members. For example, I often have conversations with my family about what I read in the paper, or saw on the 6pm news. This is obviously a result of the introduction of media and technology into the household and the introduction of public events into the private spaces.

With the boundaries around households increasingly being broken down through domestication and the introduction of technologies such as TV, internet and telephone into private spaces, it begs the question regarding whether this change has resulted in a positive social change and the adoption of morals and care structures. I believe to a certain extent the availability of this technology and its introduction into households has enabled us to adopt positive practices leading to increased social awareness and participation; however these are limited by the public’s (politics/economy) control over what is introduced into the household and the individuals approach to the process of domestication and use of technology. Michael in his writing “Disciplined and disciplining co(a)gents: the remote control and the couch potato”, highlights the influence of the technology, particularly TV and the remote control in the development of a couch potato and the concept of “wastefulness – [a] lack of productivity” and its consequences such as negative health impacts. However, without technologies such as the remote control, our approach to TV viewing (i.e. the ease of viewing TV and changing channels), I believe, would differ considerably. As Michael notes, “the couch potato – can be undermined by the enablements generated by the coincidence or coalition of technological design features” (Michael, pg. 114). This again highlights the influence of domestication in influencing household function.

Week 4 Mediation: Space

April 10, 2010

The main concept of this reading is the influence of alternative media types such as the internet and telephone in contributing to the doubling of space, the concept introduced by Scannell’s (1996) reading. Scannell argued that broadcasting through television and radio allowed “public events to occur, simultaneously in two different places: the place of the event itself and that in which it was watched and heard” (Moores, p. 21), or “constructing experiences of simultaneity, liveness and immediacy” (Moores, p. 104).  

In this reading, Moore reflects upon the shifting boundaries of place in the creation of electronic societies and virtual spaces. He notes the emergence of an electronic culture, which is seeing a shift from physical space to placeless spaces or a combination of both. As Meyrowitz notes in his writing and as highlighted by Moores, “electronically mediated communication transcends the boundaries of physical settings, making these boundaries more permeable” (Moores, p.23).

Using the three examples of television, internet and mobile phones Moore notes how broadcasting allowed people to become involved in events from external locations, thereby creating a sense of first hand reality, and the formation a care structures within the community. I do recall the emotions and connections associated with the viewing of the September 11 attacks as they occurred and were broadcast on television. While having no association with the event of any of those persons affected, simply viewing the event made me feel as if I was directly affected by, and involved with, it. This is the concept of bringing public events into the private domain.

I found it interesting to note how the use of the internet has lead to the creation of virtual worlds, enabling users to almost adopt a completely different life and persona. This is the concept of “overlaying of the physical place in which my body resides”.  (Kendall 2002). I can relate to this through the use of Facebook, and its ability to enable you to become completely engrossed in creating your own and tracking others ‘real, yet virtual lives’, with almost not recognition of your actual physical space. I found it interesting that Hay in his ‘My Space?’ reading he argues through the example of the virutal My Space application that its use can lead to a more “well managed, connected and thus healthier life” (Hay, p.75).

While in some circumstances, these activities can foster the creation of relationships and connections amongst users, I do question the degree to which this media type should be permitted to influence individual’s lives. As noted in Moores reading, virtual spaces allowed one user to act out his emotion problems through a fantasy alias, “without every satisfactorily resolving them”. Are virtual realities through certain media types simply fostering greater social problems within our society? I believe that physical interaction is an important social tool and the extent to which media types can impact on this should be monitored. Users should be able to interact with their physical space.

The ability to interact with events not within your current physical realm is also highlighted by Hay in his ‘My Space?’ reading where he recognises the link between communication and transportation and “overcoming the problem of distance through technologies of transport” (Hay, p. 74) such as mobile phones and internet.

All the broadcasting concepts outlined by Moores have meant there is no longer the need for a shared physical location. Giddens notes these changing arrangements of proximity and distance, and I have noted that this absence seems to result in people being more willing to share their experiences with strangers or distant friend connections (through internet sites and text messaging). Media setting is overlaying the physical location creating the pluralisation of being in place.

Week 5 – Researching Media in Everyday Life

April 8, 2010

I believe the main argument being made in Corti’s “Using Diaries in Social Research” is the importance of structure when undertaking social research and developing a social research method. Corti explains the importance of structure throughout the whole research process (for example: the diary interview process), through to the detailed design of the actual ‘tomorrow’ diary to create an accurate record of events.

Corti notes: “The amount of work required to process a diary depends largely on how structured it is…a well designed diary with coherent precoding system should cut down on the degree of editing and coding”. Further, “if the diary is unstructured, intensive editing and coding will push up the costs”. The structured approach also reduces the need for archiving of diary data as “little [resources] is availble…for secondary analysis”. 

I attempted to develop a structured approach when developing my diary for Assignment 2 and incorporated a number of aspects highlighted by Corti such as:  a) a clear set of instructions; b)clearly ruled up and headlined pages; c) a model example of a completed diary; d) explanations of the units of observation such as content/duration etc; e)appropriate terminology to best reflect the study e.g. media types included tv, phone (landline/mobile), newspaper, internet, video, dvd; and f) a space for the participant to reflect on what they have observed throughout the diary process. This structured diary is then supported by a final face to face interview which as Corti notes is “used to check the completeness of the recorded entries” , stressing its importance and enhancing the quality of the interview process. 

I have completed a number of diaries before. Firstly, I completed a diet and exercise diary and there was a clear structure requiring me to fill in volumes, times etc. It was interesting to observe how as a result of needing to keep a diary my behaviour changed. Corti notes this tendancy for reporting errors and labels this as “conditioning”. I found myself exercising more, and eating healthier food types in an effort to produce the results which I thought were expected from the diary keeping. 

Secondly, I was required to complete a work experience diary and found myself writing down entires at the end of the day or week rather than as the events occured. However, a review of our diaries required me to keep up to date and accurate with the entires. Corti notes the importance of this “intermediate visit” in assisting in “preserving good diary keeping to the end of the period.”

From this reading and from personal experience, the structure of a diary is key to ensuring the collection of accurate data and effective data analysis.

Week 1 Readings – Media and Everyday Life

March 12, 2010

I found in intersting in Couldry’s reading the long history associated with the media rituals and their influence of society and the lasting impacts that wrtiers such as Emilie Durkheim have had on modern society. Durkheim believed that social facts were the main intellectual concern of sociology and it is the aspects of social life that shape our actions as individuals. He also noted that people comply with these social facts freely believing they are acting out of choice. But is this really the case?

Why do we enable the media to be our access point to the social centre and are we enabling them to constrain our beliefs through their power?

Couldry argues that we are not brought together by this neo Durkheim theory however I believe that to some extent we are.

Arts 1090 Group 1

March 11, 2010

Hi All,

Welcome to our blog! Just want to check to see if I am doing this properly and you can all read this blog? If you can feel free to start a new blog and dicuss the readings. I am hoping to be able to post some stuff up tonight so we can get talking about the readings from last week.

Nat