attention please and thanks

MUST CREDIT: @esmith_images/Instagram This Instagram photo shows a man missing a humpback whale surface two feet away from him because he was glued to his phone. The moment was caught during a whale watch in Redondo Beach, California, professional photographer Eric Smith told ABC News today. Smith said he had about five photos of whales with the private sailboat in the background, but the guy never got off his phone in any of the pictures.

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Our Attention Span is on the decline and at a rather dramatic rate. According to the 2015 Microsoft Report a Canadian Study found that the human attention span has declined so much so that it is now lower than a goldfish. In the year 2000 it was recorded that 12 seconds was the average a person could stay attentive. By 2013 this number decreased to an average of 8 seconds whereby a species of fish has now surpassed it (Microsoft, 2015). Uh oh!

As we have moved to a digital style of living: classes online, friends online, Tv online, it is somewhat understandable that our attention has reduced. Our increased technology consumption and digital lifestyle has condensed our ability to maintain a steady focus for extended periods of time largely because of ‘multi-screening’ action. Today people can quite easily get distracted online especially through various devices. We can find anything we are looking for on the web. The web has all the answers…well not really but sort of.

Multi-screening has in my opinion made it extremely difficult to focus our attention on one particular medium. The same study through a survey found that 77% of people reach for their phone when nothing is occupying them. 79% said they frequently use devices while simultaneously watching TV and 74% said they watch TV through catch up streamed Tv (Microsoft, 2015). I for one can attest to all of the aforementioned statistics. As a matter of fact as I was writing this blog I had a number of different tabs open flicking my attention when I was lacking interest and stimulation. And this goes for everything, not just Uni work, when I’m watching Tv I will almost always have my phone with me as a boredom reliever, particularly through those long, taxing commercial breaks. Today we can accredit our savvy multitasking to our incessant use of technology.

For marketing and advertising however the idea of multitasking and lack of attention has in a way ruined the traditional methods of communication. Think about this – what happens when we are in front of the TV but accompanied by our laptop and phone, our attention moves away from the Television and their adverts to our social media accounts or anything online. Commercials played on prime time television once had a specific purpose and that was to reach a large audience in a convenient manner – the comfort of one’s own home. However, today this is lacking in effect, marketers have had to come up with new innovative ways that they can broadcast their content. Multitasking has inadvertently helped advertising progress with technology. Marketers are essentially competing for attention and have since harnessed other platforms to broadcast their advertising strategies ie facebook.

It is no doubt that our attention span is adapting to our changing patterns of living but how far will our attention span deteriorate? Can we increase our attention span or are we subject to remain lower than a fish. It has become a major fight for attention. What has this meant for other industries?

Microsoft, 2015, Attention Spans, Microsoft, viewed 28th September 2015, pp1-51

Watson, L, 2015, ‘Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones’, The Telegraph, viewed 28 September 2015 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11607315/Humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smartphones.html

Do we need permission? Do we own the right?

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This is a photo I took in Greece two months ago of the Acropolis in Athens. Being such a busy tourist destination it was impossible not to get any people in the shot. A man unknowingly became the main focus standing central and looking straight at my phone. Did I mean to get a photo of him? No. Did I want him as the central focus? Not really I was more interested in the thing behind him.

In this case should I have asked for his consent? Or does it simply not matter because he was just a bystander obstructing the main focus.

These are the questions becoming more apparent with the growing use of technologies and photo sharing apps available today. For street photographers they have to consider this everyday. This week we were discussing the legalities behind taking photos of others. As Colberg puts it there has become a serious issue of consent, especially when you take a photo of someone and they confront you (Colberg, 2013). In todays day and age photographers both professional and anyone with an iphone can take a photo of someone provided they are in a public space and there are technically no legalities behind it.

There has become a major issue of contention between the violation of people’s privacy and art. Art photography occupies a tiny niche, and we cannot expect the general public to have the same kind of knowledge and/or understanding of photography the members of this tiny niche have (Colberg, 2013). The concept of Art in all its forms will almost always grapple with public perception. Much like the photography works of Bruce Gilden and Garry Winogrand, arguably two of the most renowned street photographers, both known for taking raw, unplanned images hence, could get away with not asking for consent.

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Bruce Gilden: JAPAN. 1998. Two members of the Yakuza, Japan’s mafia. The Yakuza’s 23 gangs are Japan’s top corporate earners. They model themselves on 1950s American gangsters.

 While I am no Bruce Gilden, I tried to get my own shot of people in the public space of University. In this image there a various people passing by while others are sitting using their respective devices. Because this image was not directed at any one in particular I didn’t ask for consent.

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What I have just demonstrated represents the exact ethical dilemma of public space photography. Like myself who didn’t ask permission, many people don’t ask and like the lack of law I don’t think it is necessary, however in saying that if I were to take a picture of a clear subject, like Gilden that required consent then obviously I would. This whole dilemma poses the question of safeguards. While safeguards may protect a person’s image at face value, I don’t think that it is in any way going to help or limit public photo taking especially with the proliferation of technology. With the ample of photo apps, Colberg believes people have become more conscious of being photographed, but actually maybe they haven’t, maybe people have become too busy on their own devices to even notice!

Arts Law Centre of Australia, 2015, Street Photographer’s rights, Arts Law Centre of Australia, viewed 6th September 2015, http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/

Colberg, J 2013, The Ethics of Street Photography, Conscientious extended, viewed: 6th September 2015, http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/

Straight outta the Cinema

Swedish geographer, Torsten Hagerstrand’s developed three human constraints that affect social planning: Capability, Coupling and Authority. These three constraints form a basis for the space-time path which demonstrates how human spatial activity is governed by limitations rather than independent decisions. (Corbett, n.d) In terms of the Cinema, all can be applied.

The Capability constraint refers to the limitations on movement in terms of physical factors. This constraint is determined by whether a person is ‘capable’ of getting to a cinema or the physical barriers that stand in the way.

The Coupling constraint refers to accomplishing a task in the company of other people. The space-time path must temporarily link up with people and their time.

The Authority constraint refers to a controlled area that places limits on access for particular individuals. In regards to cinema attending, a child is unable to enter a movie that is rated MA15+.

Having not been to a Cinema in a while, I think the last time was in 2013 when I went to see ‘The Wolf of Wall street’ in Times Square, I decided it was time to rekindle my relationship of sitting in a room with a group of strangers. I decided to take my sister and her boyfriend to a screening of the latest blockbuster film. We decided to see ‘Straight outta Compton’ (to be fair there wasn’t much choice) at an evening screening time to accommodate all our busy lives. In terms of the three human constraints, all played a role in our experience.

The Capability factor: we arranged a time that was suitable for all of us. For me it was within the week so I could finish this blog and for them it was when they were bored.

The Coupling factor: personally I didn’t want to go to the movies on my own particularly to see ‘Straight Outta Compton’ – I feel that is more of a movie that requires company. As we never seem to plan anything I knew I could count on my sister to see something last minute.

The Authority factor: This movie was rated R so all of us being adults were allowed to be there.

 In relation to the spatial terms of the cinema, the theatre was probably ¼ full. We decided to sit on the elevated level and to the side so we could make a quick getaway if need be (we didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into). For a new release big budget film it poses the question that cinemas could possibly be on the decline. And I suspect it’s largely because of technologies such as ‘Netflix’ that have enabled private viewing of the latest television series and box-office films. ScreenAustralia findings show that there is a trend in the slow decline of cinema attending. The average attendance a year has fallen from from 7.8 visits in 2004 to 6.9 in 2014 (ScreenAustralia, 2014). While it is debatable whether cinema can sustain its popularity or completely disappear, I think that despite it being a strong cultural phenomenon the ever-growing technology we have today does undoubtedly pose as a threat for the cinema.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 6.54.38 pm(Source: ScreenAustralia)

Corbett, J, (n.d), CSISS Classics, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography, CSISS, accessed 31 August 2015, http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29.

Screen Australia, 2014, ‘Audiovisual Markets Audiences’ accessed 1st September, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/audiencescinemaattend.aspx

When Wi-Fi turns the household into a Warzone

“Fast Wi-Fi more like wheresssssss the Wi-Fi” are the exact words from my 16-year-old brother. I decided to go back and Interview my mum on her experiences with our Broadband network as well as my brother’s so I could gain two very different perspectives, largely based on generational differences.

So Harry, what are your thoughts on our broadband network? Are you satisfied with it? How do you use it? What devices do you favour? as I ask these questions I see his all too familiar facial expressions read that for one he wasn’t all that keen on answering the abundant of questions I had for him but simultaneously I become fully aware that I was about to be hit with a rant.

From my younger brother’s perspective, which is much like my own perspective I should add, the Internet connection we have at home isn’t the best. Now this could largely be based on the number of people living in our household.

Being one of five children, with three still living at home, our parents much like the global citizens they are like to have exchange students in our house all year round. While my brother’s and I fully enjoy/support this experience, it is when we have “THREE at a TIME”, words from my brother, that it becomes a bit of an issue. Your probably thinking that would great, multiculturalism at its finest. I will agree it is great but for our WIFI it is not.

So for example, with five of us already using the WIFI: mum simply surfing the web and preparing for work, dad giving his best efforts at trying to use it, brother number 1 keeping track of his various social media accounts and brother number 2 doing school work and looking up strange YouTube clips, it is safe to say our Internet takes its toll. My brother continues, “on top of this, to add three other students, studying and streaming china TV live and Eurovision, our Internet suffers greatly”.

Our broadband network is not one that allows us to stream videos all the time for leisure it is usually dedicated to studies, though that can be debatable with brother number 1.

When I ask my mother for her take on our broadband network, she has a very different perspective. For my mum, she blames our terrible broadband on the “area”. Living in a coastal suburb with our front yard a few metres from the ocean and our backyard a couple meters from the escarpment, our Internet/broadband is affected greatly by our location. As for NBN, for now that is off limits to our area.

Through these periods when our Wifi dies down its fine we get by… No I’m only joking it’s terrible, it becomes something of a warzone at the Clifford household.

Ethno what now…

Oxford Journals defines Ethnography as a study associated with how people perceive, describe and explain the world in light of their own worldview or cultural background (Oxford University Press, 2015). This study relies on the researcher getting as close as possible to the subjects, and essentially ‘immersing themselves’ into the environment to gain insights firsthand. Ethnographic research is essentially synonymous with the qualitative field of research whereby it involves developing a deep understanding of individuals and their reasoning.

As for ‘Collaborative Ethnographic research’, Ethnography is by definition collaborative, as it requires the researcher to collaborate with the subject by means of engagement (Lassiter, 2005). It would be highly impossible for any researcher to gain any insight into a field without the slightest bit of collaboration. By doing this the research can gain an understanding of the real life contexts and subsequently can create ethnographic texts (Lassiter, 2005).

So why use collaborative ethnographic research to analyze contemporary media in the home?

 Firstly, there has been a plethora of research done on the use of contemporary media in the home, however most of the research has been conducted under the quantitative method. For example, the Hillygus and Nie’s study on ‘The impact of internet use on socialbility: Time diary findings. Quantitative research becomes helpful when using stats, graphs and tables and is necessary when comparing and contrasting certain variables.

Hillygus and Nie’s study explored how the Internet affects interpersonal communication and sociability. This study was conducted through a ‘time diary’ providing statistics through comparative tables and concluded that time spent online is asocial and competes with, rather than complements face to face communication (Nie & Hillygus, 2002, p.1). While this was helpful for the study in gaining statistical data to coincide with their ‘displacement theory’, the study lacked the ability to develop a deeper understanding of the use of media in homes.

For example, if I wanted to research how many hours a child is watching TV on a weekly basis and on what devices, Quantitative is great! as it requires strictly defined variables. This method would help find such statistics through quantitative methods like surveys or the more tech savvy systems such as ‘Oztam’ or the ‘Peoplemeter’, both television audience measurements that retract viewing data.

However, if I wanted to find out the reasoning behind the choice in ‘why’ people are tuning into certain television programs which is chewing into our social time or why people engage with media on certain devices, or even why we use media devices in conjunction with other devices (watching TV with laptop on lap and iphone in hand – something we can all attest too). A collaborative ethnographic study can help us get to the reasoning behind these questions and discover why these patterns are occurring. By using a collaborative ethnographic study we as researchers are able go deeper, gain more insight and inquire more self-expression.

Lassiter, L 2005, ‘The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography: Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’ The University of Chicago Press, viewed 15th August 2015, http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html

Nie, N,H & Hillygus, D, S 2002, ‘The Impact of Internet use on Sociability: Time Diary Findings’, IT and Society, vol 1, no 1, pp.1-20 http://sites.duke.edu/hillygus/files/2014/05/v01i01a01.pdf

Oxford University Press, 2015, Qualitative Field Research, Oxford University Press, viewed 15th August 2015 http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/tropej/online/ce_ch14.pdf

A throwback to 70s TV

Its 1972 and my mum and her four other siblings are awaiting the arrival of their brand new coloured tv, one that her parents had saved for several years prior. She tells me it was the time coloured tv was just emerging with prices retailing at around $300 to 400 for just the tabletop so it took time to put aside money for such a luxury item. Prior to this they had a small, dated, black and white tv that was extremely difficult to watch anything on.

For the Barnes family, TV was an important part of life, with media progression developing through various forms of new technology; the TV brought with it an appeal that extended to the whole family.

For my mum and her family, TV was a space that brought everyone together, whether it was the 6 o’clock news the whole family sat and watched every evening or the primetime family TV shows such as ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘I dreamed a Genie’. Particularly with a show like the Brady Bunch, my mum and her siblings could very much relate to the experiences, with Brady bunch becoming a family favourite.

The lounge room became a symbolic room, a room for bonding. My mum tells me no matter what program was on at the time the whole family would sit together especially on a Sunday evening and simply watch something together. Even when only one person was watching something at a time, at some point one by one everyone would eventually make there way into the lounge room until they were all in there watching together.

She points out that the TV was left on all the time, all day and all through the night, regardless if anyone was in there watching it. (And I can personally attest to this still to this day my grandparents leave the TV on!) The tv in her household held special value. When the tv was on, it made the home more homely. My mum contemplates how something as simple as a square box could have such an impact on the family unit and her growing up.

When I ask my mum if she had more than one TV she gave me an interesting look, “No darling, I wasn’t as lucky as you”. Fast-forward 40 years and here she is with her own five children, the only difference is… we have three tv’s…

… Media Space

When I think about the media space it is confusing and seemingly simple at the same time. Social media has become a major part of our generation, which is why it should be simple to understand and more particularly simple to understand my own media space. For me, I’m not a person who relies heavily on social media nor needs it, I would much rather not be exposed to every little detail of others personal lives.

However, living in this age and studying a media degree I am completely aware that media does and has played a prominent role in people’s personal lives as well as publicly through enterprise.

For example I currently have two jobs one of which is an assistant for a wedding photographer. I should probably mention that the wedding photographer just so happens to be my sister (I guess that’s how I got the job!) you can check her out here

For her she has to rely on social media to get her name/photography work out there and the role I play in this is managing her social media accounts such as Instagram. It is my job to post her photography work to her 25,000 + Instagram audience and answer any forthcoming questions.

This I guess is my own personal experience of the media space. While I am posting photos for this business, which are crossing various individuals’ social networking channels across the globe, I too, at the same time am using my own personal social media accounts to stay connected.