Digital Narrative Project – Music Consumption in Daily Life

“By its very nature, popular culture impinges on people unceasingly; it is part of their environment, part of the background noise, colour, and verbal imagery of their lives…”

David Riesman, Listening to Popular Music

Over time, humans have developed habits and rituals surrounding music consumption. Technology has shaped the way we listen to music and in turn has changed where, why and how we listen. The following storycircles explore how different individuals interact with music on a daily basis and how this is unique depending on the space they occupy.

Brooke

Age: 17

Occupation: Student

Generation: Z

Current Favourite song: ‘Sweatpants’ by Childish Gambino

 

Brooke represents the generation who grew up with the internet. Generation Z was the first generation to have widespread access to the Internet from an early school age (Cooper PG, 2016). This has shaped how they interact with technology on a daily basis.

Brooke listens to music while she studies. She notes that music helps her stay focused from other distractions.  Statistics show that 79% of students listen to music while working to remain focused and improve productivity (Flannigan, 2015). However, there is debate surrounding the effectiveness of this practice.  Sixty undergraduate students at the Georgia Institute of Technology participated in a study to investigate whether media multitasking was distracting.  The study found that ‘a majority of students (59%) listened to music for part or all of the session, with an average amount of time engaged with this source of distraction of 73 min (over 40% of the study session),’ (Calderwood et al., 2013). In contrast, there are researchers who argue in favour of music consumption while studying. Shin, Huang and Chiang (2008) found ‘when people listen to background music their awareness level is raised and they perform the task more enthusiastically’.

The previous suggests the effectiveness of listening to music whilst studying depends on the individual. Similar to media multitasking, some people can manage multiple screens better than others. Brooke would be classified as having a high tolerance for media multitasking. It should be noted she is an avid gamer.  Studies suggest that video game music is one of the best genres for concentration as the music helps ‘foster achievement’ (Greenfield, 2014) . This could explain her disposition for multitasking.

Brooke also mentions the etiquette surrounding music consumption in public spaces.  She will always listen to her music through her headphones to ensure it cannot be heard by others.

The headphone is a piece of technology that revolutionised the way we consume music on a daily basis. They were first used by telephone operators and were not associated with music until the 1900s. Nathaniel Baldwin invented the first pair of audio headphones on his kitchen table in 1910. However, the biggest turning point for the headphone was the release of the Sony Walkman in 1979 (Newman, 2012). Suddenly, music had become portable. Listening was transported out of the private home and into public spaces. Headphones had to become light and not interfere with daily activity.

Fast-forward to 2016, it would be difficult to consume music in public spaces without headphones. Headphones can be an underrated piece of technology, but large companies strive to continually improve them. In 2014, Apple bought Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats brand for $3 million (Martins, 2014).

The concept of the headphone is unique. We can see someone is listening to music but we cannot hear what they are listening to. For that reason, there is a degree of privacy in the practice of personal media use in public spaces. Public spaces are transformed into semi-private spaces through the use of headphones. It is only in private spaces where we a have greater influence over how we consume music.

Joann

Age: 52

Occupation: Nurse

Generation: Baby Boomer

Current Favourite Song: “Right Here, Right Now’ by Jesus Jones

 

Joann represents the generation who watched music consumption evolve. This has shaped the way she listens to music. During her youth, music consumption was a private practice which could only be performed in the home.  The introduction of the Walkman transported music out of the home and into the street. However, there were still limitations to the device.

Today, the Walkman has been replaced with smartphones. ‘In August 2015, 8.2 million Australians listened to music or viewed music-related content on their smartphones and 3.7 million did the same on tablets’ (Smith, 2015).  Our music collections now fit into our pockets. Despite this, Joann still prefers to listen to music in private. This could suggest that media practices correlate to exposure to technology from a young age.

The ‘sociology of consumption has devoted much attention to the symbolic use of activities and goods that create distinction and manage or maintain status boundaries,’ (Roose, Stichele, 2010). Music is a distinctive medium as it can be consumed while performing other tasks. Similar to Brooke, Joann will listen to music while performing other activities such as cleaning. Music has subjective functions in our lives. Some will use music as a form of entertainment while others use it to maintain focus. The space we occupy will likely influence its function. Music can also define space.

A unique similarity between both Brooke and Joann is where they get their music from. Both use free versions of streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora. Over 10.7 million Australians use video and streaming services on their smartphones (Neilson, 2015). We are on the cusp of technological change that will alter music consumption. Streaming services are opening a discussion around ownership.  Currently, there isn’t much regulation surrounding these services and the governing bodies are beginning to change that. This will likely determine how we consume music in the future.

What does this mean? 

Both Brooke and Joann have different tastes in music, different ways they listen to music and different reasons why they listen to music. However, it is unanimous that space impacts these choices. The space in which we consume music gives meaning to individual practices. Brooke will happily listen to music through her headphones while walking down the street, whereas Joann will only listen to music out loud in the privacy of her home. New technology is expanding our ability to consume music in different spaces and music is slowly creeping into all spaces. It’s not uncommon to witness people listening to personal music devices on public transport, even though there is already music playing through speakers. Ethnographers will study situations like the previous to understand shifting rituals and habits in the digital age and demonstrate how technology and life are not separate.  There do not fit into different spheres, they bleed into each other and effect one another.

Finally, Shaun Wilsons wrote in Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (2008) that ‘all stories reflect the storyteller and where they are in their lives.’ Music is only one portion that makes up a person’s life. However, it is a tiny puzzle piece which combines to create a bigger picture. These snapshots give insight into how the individual interacts with the space around them, which reflects the point in the story which the person is at.

References

Cooper, PG 2016, ‘Generation Z’, Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Calderwood, C, Ackerman, PL, & Conklin, EM 2014, ‘What else do college students “do” while studying? An investigation of multitasking’, Computers & Education, vol. 75, pp. 19-29.

Flannigan, D 2015, ‘Student’s thoughts on listen to music at school’, Daily Herald, 1 January, viewed 25 October 2016, http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130509/submitted/130509837/

Greenfield, R 2014, ‘The new playlist for more productive work: video game music’, Fast Company, 14 May, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.fastcompany.com/3030502/agendas/the-new-playlist-for-more-productive-work-video-game-soundtracks

Martins, C 2014, ‘Apple buys beats, Welcomes Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’, Spin, 28 May, viewed 25 October 2016, http://www.spin.com/2014/05/apple-beats-music-electronics-deal-acquisition-billion/

Newman, M 2012, ‘History of Headphones’, Cool Material, not specified, viewed 25 October 2016, http://www.stuff.tv/features/headphones-complete-history

Neilson, 2015, ‘IAB and Nielsen release first mobile ratings report’, Neilson, 7 October, viewed 27 October 2016, http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/press-room/2015/nielsen-mobile-audience-measurement.html

Riesman, D 1950, ‘Listening to Popular Music’, American Quarterly, no. 4, p. 359.

Roose, H, & Stichele, AV 2010, ‘Living Room vs. Concert Hall: Patterns of Music Consumption in Flanders’, Social Forces, no. 1, p. 185.

Smith, A 2015, ‘Mobile mania! Australians spend on average more than an hour a day on their smartphones’, Neilson, 31 October, viewed 27 October 2016, http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/news/2015/mobile-mania-australians-spend-on-average-more-than-an-hour-a-day-on-their-smartphones.html

Wilson, S 2008, Research is ceremony : indigenous research methods, Black Point, N.S. : Fernwood Pub., c2008.

 

Cen*ors*ip – !t re#lly su%ks

The worst thing about censorship is it stifles knowledge.

 ‘Censorship is flourishing in the informational age,’ wrote Philip Bennett and Moises Naim in the Columbia Journalism Review (2015).

Censorship isn’t a recent concept. It has been practised since its origin in the first civilisations.  It’s defined as the suppression of information, opinion or expression by any authority in order to control the circulation of knowledge (Aliprandini and Wagner, 2016).

As history prevailed, there has always been something that someone wants to suppress.  Censorship has often been associated with different ideologies. In Nazism, all media was controlled by the state. Minster for Propaganda Joseph Gobbles insisted that media was created in line with Nazi values so people would not turn to foreign broadcasters for entertainment. This control bled into cinema with German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl producing a series of Nazi propaganda films.

More recently, it was leaked that communist North Korea only has 28 websites.  Among the sites were; a social network similar to Facebook, a news website and a website for the national airline (Franceschi-Bicchirai, 2016).  As we delve deeper into the information age, it’s evident that censorship and the Internet go hand in hand.

This has generated increasing debate over the past decade. The Internet has granted millions of users unprecedented access to information, images and video (Ballaro & DiLascio, 2016).  In theory, the new technologies should make it almost impossible for authorities to control the flow of information. However, ‘the Internet’s promise of open access to independent and diverse sources of information is only a reality for the minority of humanity living in mature democracies’ (Bennett and Naim, 2015).

For example, take a look at Venezuela.

 

It has one has one of the world’s highest crime rates. The Smart Traveller website advises Australians to reconsider the need to travel to the country, with some areas classified as ‘do not travel’ zones.  Venezuela is struggling due to a weak economy, hyperinflation, resource shortages and years of terrible governmental decision making (Undaneta 2016).  To buy a pack of condoms in Venezuela it can cost over $200.  However, internet usage there is among the fastest growing in the world, even as the government enforces strict censorship programs (Bennett and Naim, 2015).  The socialist rule of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez resulted in news outlets being bought up by governments and a crackdown on independent news channels.  It is also illegal to use social media to ‘disrupt public peace’.  In 2016 alone, over 370 internet addresses were blocked in Venezuela.

‘Of those, 44 percent are web pages related to black market dollars. An additional 19 percent of the pages are news media and an additional 12 percent feature blogs critical of Nicolás Maduro’s [current President] administration.’

Pedro Garcia Olero, 2015

There is a good chance my WordPress blog would be unavailable in the country of Venezuela, which is difficult to comprehend. I am in no way not a person of power or influence. Everything stated previously was information found on the internet. I am simply reproducing fact. The biggest threat I possess is knowledge.

There is a flip side to this story. Where there are boundaries made, people will try to push them.  A new generation of social activists is using media to overcome the oppression of censorship.  Many Venezuelans are fighting back by using the platforms which the government tries to suppress.  The Internet is a place where ideas are formed, spread and then translated into real world actions.  In the midst of a recall referendum, the current government are doing whatever it takes to maintain power and that means stifling knowledge. The laws making it punishable to use social media in order to maintain ‘public peace’ are legitimating censorship.

The situation in Venezuela is an extreme case of mass censorship in the 21st century which has a significant impact on the quality of life and freedom for the Venezuelan people.  I have only scratched the surface when looking at censorship and I am not going to pretend I know everything. But what I have gathered from my research, the best way to fight censorship is, ironically, knowledge.

References

Aliprandini, M, & Wagner, G 2016, ‘Censorship’, Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Ballaro, B, & DiLascio, TM 2016, ‘Internet censorship overview’, Salem Press Encyclopedia

Bennett, P, & Naim, M 2015, ’21st-century censorship. (cover story)’, Columbia Journalism Review, vol. 53, no. 5, p. 22

Franceschi-Bicchirai, L 2016, ‘North Korea has just 28 Websites’, Motherboard, 20 September, viewed 3 October 2016 http://motherboard.vice.com/read/north-korea-has-just-28-websites

Olero, PG 2016, ‘Censorship in Venezuela: Over 370 Internet Addresses Blocked’, Panampost, 20 July, viewed 3 October 2016 https://panampost.com/pedro-garcia/2016/07/20/censorship-in-venezuela-over-370-internet-addresses-blocked/

Undaneta, D 2016, ‘Here’s why it’s hard to get laid in Venezuela right now’, Vice, 22 March, viewed 3 October 2016 http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/venezuela-condoms-contraceptives-no-access-economy-sex-fear-876?utm_source=vicefbanz

SQUIRREL! – A very short story about my attention span

I can summarise the extent of my attention span in one short YouTube video.

As you can gather, it is not the best.  Some would call me a space cadet; I easily lose touch with reality and drift off into space.  I have an awful habit of zoning out when people are talking to me.  My sister can pinpoint the exact moment I go into la la land because my face just turns blank.  She really hates it.

“I don’t know if over the years you have blocked out the frequency of my voice or if you are just choosing not to hear me”

Brooke Mourtos – my little sister

It also doesn’t help that my facial expressions read like a book and have a direct correlation to what I am thinking.  I am very aware this trait will get me into hot water one day, so I am trying to work on it.  I can kiss goodbye a career in professional poker playing.

My own shortcomings make me wonder, are some people better at maintaining concentration or do we all have a degree of attention deficit?  We know our attention spans are shrinking.  Research has found the human attention span has dropped from twelve to eight seconds since 2000.  This mean the humble goldfish can concentrate for longer than we can. It was theorised ‘a weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet'(McSpadden 2015).  Is this a case of shifting the blame or is there truth to the argument?

I cannot accurately answer the previous questions but I can settle the score between my sister and myself.  Together we have designed a simple experiment to find out who has the better attention span (I’d place my bets on her).

Aim

To find out who has a longer attention span.

Hypothesis

We both hypothesis that Brooke will have a longer attention span.

Research

The human brain has been a hot topic of research for decades.  There are many stakeholders invested in understanding how it actually works.  In a world where attention is currency, unlocking the pitfalls and vices of the brain can result in success. Daniel Simons and Ronald Rensink (2005) studied the science of change blindness, whereby the brain fails to recognise changes in visual stimuli.  The study found that approximately 50 per cent of people approached failed to recognise when the people they were talking to was replaced.  It can be gathered from this experiment that out attention levels were not great, regardless of whether distractors were present.

 

Equipment

  • Multiple distractors (television, infomercial, music)
  • Stroop game
  • Two highly competitive siblings

Method

The method is quite simple.  Each participant will play the Stroop game twice.  Once without any distractors (to be used as a control) and once with multiple distractors.  The participant with the best results will be deemed as having a better attention span.

Results

  Without Distractors With Distractors
Sarah

Score 356

Brain age 34

Score 332

Brain age 37

Brooke

Score 536

Brain age 20

Score 492

Brain age 21

 I told you Brooke would win.

 Discussion 

Brooke – “Yeah but I multitask all the time so I’m used to it”

Sarah – “When there was distraction, there was more excuse for my brain to wander”

The game alone was challenging.  It applied the Stroop effect, whereby reaction time is interrupted due to conflicting information (e.g. name the colour, not the word).  The interference occurs because naming the colours requires more attention than reading words (Cherry 2015).

When distractions were introduced, it took a longer time to process all the information and thus both our performances suffered. Distractions test our will power and give our attention the opportunity to stray.  This happens regardless whether the distraction is our stomach grumbling or commercial in the television, clouding the argument that technology is the cause of our limited attention span.

Brooke also mentioned she found the exercise easier because she can multitask.  This isn’t a logical explanation for a better attention span. When we multitask we are essentially doing the equivalent of switching between tabs on Google.  You are concentrating on two different things but this process is not happening simultaneously.  Multitasking and attention spans are related concepts but they are not the same thing.

Conclusion

When it comes to my attention span, I am a lost cause.  It’s just how my brain is wired. What I lose in concertation, I make up for with creativity.  As for the rest of humanity, the jury is still out.

References

McSpadden, K 2015, ‘You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish’, Time, 14 May, viewed 27 September 2016, http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

Simons, DJ, & Rensink, RA 2005, ‘Change blindness: past, present, and future’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 9, pp. 16-20

Cherry, K 2015, ‘What is the Stroop Effect?’, Very Well, 16 November, viewed 27 September 2016, https://www.verywell.com/what-is-the-stroop-effect-2795832

Digital Storytelling Project Proposal

I am not much of a coffee drinker. I just promise myself I can have a nap later on in the day and that usually helps me get out of bed in the morning.

Gosh, I am gullible.

77823-audrey-hepburn-cat-wake-up-gif-lirj

Another tactic I use to get me feeling awake and ready for the day is to listen to music. If I have plenty of time to get ready, I will find a Spotify playlist and play it through my speakers. If I am in more of a rush, I will listen to music through my headphones on the bus trip to uni. You could say music is my coffee. I feel a little off if I don’t have my daily fix. I can remember listening to my iPod during the car ride to school and I did the same on the bus trip home. That has been my ‘routine’ since high school.

Over the years, music has bled into other aspects of my life. I will listen to music if I am cleaning my room, studying, exercising (on the rare occasions I do physical activity) or just bored. It should be noted I have no musical talent at all. I can’t play an instrument, sing to save my life or read music. I just really enjoy listening to it.

For my digital storytelling project, I propose to explore how people listening to music. Why, when and how do people listen to music. Music is a media we cannot see, what role does it have in place and space?

Area of exploration

Obviously, the topic of music is broad. The following points are some possible refined aspects I could focus on:

‘Music has become an essential part of human societies,’ writes Raphaël Nowak in Consuming Music in the Digital Age: Technologies, Roles and Everyday Life. The digital age has changed consumption patterns and has increased the presence of music in everyday life (Nowak 2016 p.3). Public bathrooms often have ambient music playing. There are not many places that are free from music.

Marshall Mcluhan (1967) famously stated ‘the medium is the message’. This can offer an explanation as to why music consumption is popular in everyday life. The affordances of the medium are simple. Music does not require constant attention. Therefore, consumers are available to focus on other tasks simultaneously.

Music itself has been redefined in the digital age. Sociomusicology (yes that is a word) is the sociology of music. Sociomusicologists hope to be at the forefront of understanding the rapid evolution of music in the digital age (Dewey,2015). A piece of technology that revolutionised music consumption in the public space was the of the portable CD player, whereby an individual could use headphones to privately listen to music in public. The concept of ‘headphones’ is unique in itself. We can see someone is listening to music but we cannot hear what they are listening to. For that reason, there is a degree of privacy in the practice of personal media use in public spaces.

With the surge of streaming service over the recent years, the government is looking to regulate its use. The Australian Communications and Media Authority draft reported states ‘with the recent take-up of applications such as Spotify and Netflix, subjecting traditional broadcasters to regulatory treatment on the basis of the broadcast technologies they employ has become difficult to justify’ (Tucker 2016). I believed there are bigger issues surrounding content ownership. The subscription fee you pay for Netflix and Spotify are simply providing you with the right to listen or view content. In the past, when you bought music you either had a physical copy in the form of a CD or a digital copy in the form of a film. This time, you don’t own anything. I find this concept to be perplexing.

Collaborators

The easiest and most accessible collaborators will be friends and family. Anyone can have input on the subject, we all have a varying degree of interaction with music on a daily basis. Some people, like myself, will willingly listen to music daily. Others will only interact with music when they are forced, like in public setting where music is played i.e. the supermarket. Is listening to music a generational thing?

Platforms

Considering this narrative is dealing with music, it would be logical to use a platform like Soundcloud. This can then be embedding into my WordPress blog.

Considering you cannot physically see music, it would be interesting to play with this concept.

It would be interesting to make of mosaic of an individual’s music tastes by using album artworks. What kinds of pictures would this product? Would they be an accurate representation of the individual’s personality?

References 

Dewey, J 2015, ‘Sociomusicology’, Research Starters: Sociology (Online Edition).

McLuhan, M, Filore, Q & Agel, J 1967,  The medium is the massage, New York, Bantam Books

Nowak, R 2016, Consuming Music in the Digital Age: Technologies, Roles and Everyday Life, Palgrave MacMillan, Hampshire, pp. 3

Tucker, H 2016, ‘The Australian Government wants to regulate Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services’, Business Inside Australia, 9 May, viewed 4 October 2016 http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-australian-government-wants-to-regulate-netflix-spotify-and-other-streaming-services-2016-5

 

An Apple a day keeps everyone away

Have you met my new lunch date?

He is slim, dark and handsome. He is also my iPhone.

The fact I spend more lunch times with my phone opposed to real human interaction is both sad and interesting. It also reminds me that I am single and should probably start showing cats so I can purfect the skill by the time I’m thirty.*

Our phones have become a crutch when we are forced to be ‘alone’ in public spaces. Using mobile phones and social media, provides the actual sense of belonging and can serve as surrogacy of having social relations (Derrick, Gabriel, & Hugenberg, 2009). I am culpable of this crime on many occasions.

When I am sitting alone in a public space, I will automatically reach for my phone to avoid looking like Nigel No Friends.  Even if I don’t have to respond to any messages, I will just scroll through Instagram or check Facebook. This gives the illusions that I am connecting with others even though I am alone. Our phones are tiny doorways to digital rooms where plenty of people would like to chat with us. Media consumption has replaced the need for social interaction and has enabled us to accomplish in simple activates like eat lunch alone in a public space without feeling like Larry Lame (can we please find Larry and Nigel some friends).

Phones are also great when we want to be ignored.

When you put on your headphones, it’s like putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on a hotel door. I sometimes put them on even when I am not listening to music. Just looking at your phone will also do the trick. This is particularly handy if there is a particular someone you would rather avoid. Being totally consumed by whatever is on that tiny screen will ward off any unwanted encounters. It would be intimating for anyone to interrupt such levels of concentration. It politely says to people ‘even though I am physically walking along this path my attention is somewhere else.’

The use of mobile devices in public spaces has created a dichotomy whereby we are either physically alone but wish to remain socially connected or physically connected but wish to remain alone.

“In the domain of seeking connectedness, media can increase face-to-face communication. On the other hand, in the domain of avoiding social isolation, media may replace face-to-face communication.”

Ahn and Shin, 2009

There is a dark side to our mobile phone practices. Studies have found that lonely individuals who find media to mitigate social isolation often end up aggravating their social isolation (Kim, LaRose, & Peng, 2009). Netflix and home delivery services are not valid excuses to never leave your house. It is not healthy to solely rely on mobile phones to cure loneliness. The best way to alleviate loneliness is to step away from glowing screen, put on some pants, get outside and talk to someone. Lucy Fink from Refinery29 went five days without using her phone in an experiment to find out ‘what is to be gained from losing her phone.’  Fink found that even though our phones are an irremovable aspect of daily life, we do not need to be dependent on them.

Mobile phones have shaped how we know interact with each other in public spaces. They can either create barriers or open doors for social interaction. When it all boils down, nothing can really replace the feeling of having a conversation with someone in person.

I might still flirt with my mobile phone use over lunch every now and again.

But iPhone, I think we should see other people.

 

*These puns are arguably the reason I am single.

References

Derrick, JL, Gabriel, S, & Hugenberg, K 2009, ‘Social surrogacy: How favored television programs provide the experience of belonging’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 45, pp. 352-362

Ahn, D, & Shin, D 2013, ‘Is the social use of media for seeking connectedness or for avoiding social isolation? Mechanisms underlying media use and subjective well-being’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 29, pp. 2453-2462

Kim, J, LaRose, R, & Peng, W 2009, ‘Loneliness as the cause and the effect of problematic Internet use: the relationship between Internet use and psychological well-being’, Cyberpsychology & Behavior: The Impact Of The Internet, Multimedia And Virtual Reality On Behavior And Society, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 451-455.

Bye-Bye Books

Family_watching_television_1958.jpg

The television changed family life (source)

“The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. Look at the magazines, the newspapers around us – it’s all junk, all trash, tidbits of news.”

American novelist Ray Bradbury said the previous in an interview with The Seattle Times.  That interview is over twenty years old.  Which makes me question, has anyone stopped to ask why?

Has someone so effortlessly pried books out of our hands and replaced them with smartphones  we haven’t even noticed.

If so, who do we ask to find out why?

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Traditionally, media research has been heavily centralised around the media itself.  There is a greater focus on how media affects our lives opposed to how it shapes our lives. The sociological dimension of how media rituals are made is overlooked.  The solution is to turn to the audience for answers and this is where the work of ethnographers can help.

Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that involves trying to understand how people live their lives (Harvard Business Review).  It is designed to explore cultural phenomena through observations.  This approach has been criticised for clear segregation between the researcher and those he is researching. It can become an ‘us’ and ‘them’ scenario.

Ethnographer Luke Lassiter conceptualised the theory of collaborative ethnography to counteract this issue. Lassiter argues in The Chicago Guide for Collaborative Ethnography that;

“Anthropologists built their arguments for and between each other, and how this encounter ultimately served anthropology and its own discussions about culture and meaning…

Collaborative ethnography invites commentary from our consultants and seeks to make that commentary overtly part of the ethnographic text as it develops.

Importantly, the process yields texts that are co-conceived or cowritten with local communities of collaborators and consider multiple audiences outside the confines of academic discourse…”

This approach turns research into a ‘we’ scenario, whereby everyone can benefit from the knowledge.

On a cultural level, collaborative ethnography gives society insight into why we behave the way we do with media.  It can answer questions like why people now reach for their laptop instead of the newspaper and can also provide information around the rituals associated with these practices.  Marshall McLuhan famously said the ‘medium is the message’. He argues that in history, how things have been communicated provide more information compared to what was communicated.  Collaborative ethnography builds on McLuhan’s theory.  It can explain why people transition between mediums and the social rituals that come with this shift. When television was first introduced into the market, the majority of people could not predict how it would transform daily life.  A reoccurring in most television memories is they way it changed the family home. Suddenly meals were consumed in front of the television and it was incorporated into the domestic space.  Yet, most people purchase a TV set  because it was the best new gadget to have and society has an undying desire to conform with trends. Through McLuhan’s theory, we can identify a new era of media consumption has begun. Through collaborative ethnography, we find out why the television was so catching. This information is powerful.  It has the potential to provide insight into how we can improve media usage in the future.

However, there are challenges too.  An inextricable part of collaborative ethnography is people. They play an integral role in the research compared to broader fields of ethnography. This is not the type of study where situations are controlled in a laboratory.  One must conduct interviews, focus groups and interact with the lives of others. This type of collaboration is uncontrollable due to the human condition. It can be difficult because people have lives and those lives can be busy.  Life presents enough challenges already.  I can assume most people would consider it a big ask to take the time analyse their daily practices.  To produce useful research all participants must be willing to give their full considered attention to the project. Quietly frankly, half-hearted research does not benefit society.

Hermann Bausinger wrote ‘the culture of everyday life has fallen through the sieve of scientific discipline’.  This is true.  Research about everyday life isn’t viewed as important compared to studies about diseases or space.  This explains why no one has taken the time to find out why people have stopped reading books or why the digital screen turned into a global phenomenon.  The justification for this viewpoint is that greater society will benefit more from the research about HIV/AIDs opposed to television.

However, research in cultural fields speaks volumes about the human condition in 21st century life. And I believe our lives are worth documenting.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah

References

Lassiter, LE 2005, The Chicago guide to collaborative ethnography / Luke Eric Lassiter, Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Jaddou, L, & Williams, J 1984, ‘Media, technology and daily life HERMANN BAUSINGER’, Media, Culture & Society, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 343-351.

 

 

Television Memories

This week I will be looking into television memories of my Dad. As a young chap, he really enjoyed watching the Olympics and The Six Million Dollar Man. 

Here is the theme song of the The Six Million Dollar Man to tantalise your taste buds.

Riveting content is coming soon.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah