Digital Storytelling – Imperial Buildings

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My Sory Map

I have chosen the Imperial Buildings as they are home to the office of the online marketing business, Optimum Results, where I now work. Despite being a regular office space in a regular office building, it is in this space that I have got my first proper job where I am learning so much including how adult life works. Another reason why I have chosen this space is because I do not perceive this space as somewhere where I have to go to earn money, I enjoy what I do and enjoy being in this space with people who think about it the same way that I do.

Generally, buildings like this are typically represented not so much by the space themselves, but by the people and business that occupy them. This is true for the Imperial Buildings. While the building itself has no online representation, the large diversity of businesses that occupy it, all have an online presence that helps to give the space itself representation.

When googling “Imperial Buildings Wellington” nothing about the building itself shows up, however, what does show up is the websites, Facebook pages, and google reviews for all of the places within the building who have the Imperial Buildings stated as their address. The online presence of these spaces embodies Ian Hutchby’s (444) argument of affordances. Hutchby states “affordances are functional and relational aspects which frame, while not determining, the possibilities for agent’s action in relation to an object. In this way, technologies can be understood as artifacts which may be both shaped by and shaping the practices humans use in interaction with and around them.” The businesses in the Imperial Buildings such as Optimum Results, have a range of ways to reach them online affording people the ability to interact with these places online as well as off. This helps to create more of a narrative for the Imperial Buildings as people are able to engage with businesses within the building online as well as physically.

It hard to define who is the authors of the Imperial Buildings are, as there are so many people who contribute to the definition of the space. One might say that authors of this space are the owners of the building as they have the ability to control who works in the building. I personally think that the authors of the space are the tenants that occupy it. I believe that the way that they choose to represent their various businesses is what gives the building its physical and online representation.

Jason Farman (104) reinforces how the affordances of social media and technology have a large impact in defining space and place. He states “Here, we can intervene in the production of space using these devices. If there’s an intimate relationship between materiality, space, and digital media, then the ways that those technologies and spaces get produced offer modes of intervention. We are neither passive in how space is produced nor in how technology plays a vital role in such spatial productions.” From this, we gain a better understanding of the idea that the people interacting within the space both online and off help to define it and give it its representation.

The story that I am telling about this space is the story of my personal experience from working here. While I have only been familiar with this space for a few months, I do see it as more than a boring everyday office building. In my storytelling project, I have tried to convey the way that I experience the space in a different way than most would perceive an office building.

After making my story map I have come to the realization that everybody will have a space that means something to them that others, with no personal, connection will be oblivious to. The fact that I walked past the building so many times without even noticing it at all until I had a reason to, reiterates this. The insight that an audience should have about this space after interacting with my story map, is that while this space may be irrelevant to them, it is where other people spend their time to make a living. Through my story map, I have tried to give the audience an almost immersive insight into why I find this underrated space meaningful.

Story Map: https://arcg.is/1qbyC1

Cited Works 

Hutchby, Ian. “Technologies, Texts and Affordances”, Sage Journals, 35, no. 2, 2001

Farman, Jason. “Stories, spaces, and bodies: The production of embodied space through mobile media storytelling”, Communication Research and Practice, 2015

 

 

 

Online Activism

One of the terrible things in the world today that really breaks my heart is that there are currently 130 million girls around the world being denied an education. It is clear that in many aspects of life women do not have the same opportunities as men. This is especially apparent in regards to girls receiving education in developing countries. An organization that is trying to change this is ONE. ONE is an organization dedicated to taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases around the world.

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#GirlsCount webpage “Educate a girl in one of the world’s poorest countries, and it boosts her health, wealth, and ability to take control of her life. She’s less likely to become a child bride, experience violence or contract HIV. But it doesn’t stop there. She’ll have healthier, better educated children. And she could help lift her family — and her entire country — out of poverty.”

ONE has recently launched their online #GirlsCount campaign to bring to light the issue of sexist poverty and girls being denied education and other opportunities. The goal for the #GirlsCount campaign is to create the worlds longest video counting each of the 130 million girls that do not have access to education. #GirlsCount requires everyday people to go to the website and be assigned a number. They then create a video of themselves counting their number in any way they like. The videos are then all edited together to create the worlds longest video to represent the 130 million girls. The creators of this video will then make sure it goes to the people in power in order to bring about social change.

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A screenshot of some of the #GirlsCount videos created so far. Includes videos from Malala Yousafzai, Lena Dunham, Caitlin Jenner and Helen Clark

According to  Morozov in Christensen’s article, “slacktivism” is “political activities that have no impact on real-life political outcomes, but only serve to increase the feel-good factor of the participants.” While I believe that taking part in this particular campaign does make people feel better for not doing nothing, I do not believe it should be labeled as “slacktivism“. The aim of creating the video is so that people in power can see how much of a following this movement has and how much people support it. The fact that the video will be so long, means that those in power will not be able to ignore it and will hopefully use their position to decrease the number of girls without means to an education because of this I think that #GirlsCount can spark “real-life political outcomes”. 

 

Representing Space and Place

One of my most memorable school trips was our Year 6 school visit to the City Gallery Wellington.  While most of my 10-year old class was not enthused, it was then and there that I discovered my love for art.

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Wellington City Gallery during the 2009 Yakoi Kusama exhibition when I first visited it. 

When googling the City Gallery Wellington, the first thing that pops up is the place description and the review scores from both Google and Facebook. On google reviews, the gallery has an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars. Anybody is able to leave a google review and these reviews cannot be monitored by the gallery meaning that they allow the honesty of people who have visited. This allows the average person who has visited the gallery to share their opinion of the space for others to read which helps to define the space. While on Facebook the gallery has more control over what people see on their page, the ability to write a review still allows visitors to define the space.

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What shows up when googling the Gallery. Shows the average review scores from both Google reviews and Facebook.

The City Gallery Facebook and Instagram pages allow the gallery owners the opportunity to define the space themselves. With control of all the content the post, they are able to define themselves in a way which they believe will be appealing to the people they are aiming to attract. Because both of the pages on these platforms are public, everyday people have the opportunity to tag the gallery and to comment on the content they post which gives visitors and regular people the chance to be an author of the space themselves.

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The Gallery’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Jason Farman reinforces the idea how we, as everyday users of technology and social media, have an impact in defining a space. “Here, we can intervene in the production of space using these devices. If there’s an intimate relationship between materiality, space, and digital media, then the ways that those technologies and spaces get produced offer modes of intervention. We are neither passive in how space is produced nor in how technology plays a vital role in such spatial productions.” This concept applies to City Gallery Wellington as anyone can utilize the tools of commenting, tagging, sharing, and reviewing to contribute to the definition of a space and how that space is perceived in digitally.

Discussion Paper – Affordances

While the intended use of most social media platforms is to connect and communicate with others, the affordances of social media have allowed it to be used for so much more. Meikle’s definition of social media is “networked database platforms that combine public with personal communication” (6). Perhaps one of the greatest things the affordances of “public communication” has done on these social media platforms, is allowed people to bring protest and social activism online. It is rare to spend a day on any social media platform without coming across some form of social activism. One of the most prominent protests online today is the Black Lives Matter Movement. While this movement can be found all over the internet, one of the places it is very prominent is the social media platform Tumblr. Tumblr has allowed people to peacefully protest in order to bring about offline change on an online platform (Clark et al. 13). Tumblr’s interactive affordances enable prosumers to engage with online activism and bring the Black Lives Matter movement to global attention.

According to Gibson, “affordances are the possibility that something offers for an action.” While Gibson’s definition of affordances is intended to be exclusively for living organisms, Hutchby takes this definition and argues that ‘things’, environments and artefacts, can also have affordances (443). Tumblr has many different affordances which allow its prosumers (producers/consumers) (Jurgenson and Ritzer 14) to use the platform in many different ways.

One of Tumblr’s greatest affordances is the hashtag. Some other affordances of Tumblr include user profiles, uploading photos and text posts, reblogging, messaging, trending post, and the ability to follow other blogs. Theses affordances have all been vital to helping the Black Lives Matter movement to become as big as it is today.

Prior to taking off as a movement in 2014 (Clark et al. 5), Black Lives Matter started out as a hashtag on Twitter before it became big on other social media platforms. The hashtag, created in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, came about after the Trayvon Martin case highlighted how black people were being unjustly targeted as a result of white supremacy (Garza, 1). The hashtag was created with the intended purpose of connecting those who wanted to learn more about and fight against racism and inequality towards people of colour (5). Since the Trayvon Martin case, #blacklivesmatter has been used after big events such as the Fergusson protests and the Michael Brown murder and as a response to all other injustices towards people of colour. Along with the #blacklivesmatter on Tumblr, the black lives matter movement has also inspired other hashtags to arise such as #handsupdontshoot, #hoodiesup #wearetrayvonmartin #noangel and #iftheygunnedmedown in relation to specific events (Yarima, Bonilla, and Jonathan, Rosa 8).

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Trayvon Martin (right) was shot by a white police officer in 2013. His death sparked online activism and the #blacklivesmatter hashtag was created. Michael Brown (left) killed by a police officer in 2014. His death resulted in the #blacklivesmatter hashtag to trend on social media and sparked the Fergusson protests.

While the #blacklivesmatter hashtag has been used in response to many different events of horrific inequality towards people of colour, it has played a huge role in bringing police brutality in America into the spotlight (Clark et al. 7).  Clark et al. state that “BLM’s high visibility and success in eliciting elite responses have positioned it at the centre of the national conversation on police misconduct.” This success of the hashtag is due to the affordances of the social media platforms in which it is used. Tumblr’s affordance of has hashtags has made people far more aware of police brutality and is creating global conversation around the issue.

The Tumblr hashtag allows all posts using the same hashtag to be grouped together. This also means that the number of posts using the same hashtags can be counted and can then become a trending topic if enough people are talking about them. As posts with the same hashtag can be grouped together, this affordance of Tumblr allows the hashtag to act as an organisation tool and also as a kind of search engine enabling relevant topics to be searched using a hashtag (Barnes 1). The #blacklivesmatter hashtag has allowed the movement to become a trending topic worldwide on many different social media platforms including Tumblr, bringing it to a global awareness.

While many different people use Tumblr for different reasons, Tumblr has become known as the place for “social justice warriors” or “SJWs” (Turner 4). It is likely that one of the reasons Tumblr has become such an important platform for protest and social activism are the affordances of Tumblr’s user profiles. Unlike other social media platforms, Tumblr has a greater sense of anonymity. A user’s profile can be called anything they would like and users do not have to include their name or any other personal information.

This anonymity that Tumblr gives it follows, allows people to create their own identity.  Because users are not engaging solely with people that they know, this gives them the ability to be who they are and share how they feel in a more accepting environment (Safronova). People using the #blacklivesmatter hashtag, are able to find people who share their beliefs of racial inequality and use Tumblr’s affordances to state their thoughts and feelings about the issue, back each other up and bring the movement to a more public attention without feeling judged or unsafe. Because of these affordances, users feel that they are not alone in their thoughts and are part of a community without having to disclose any personal information about themselves.

Another way that Tumblr keeps the user anonymity is by using a follower system instead of a friend system like on Facebook. This means that Tumblr users can communicate with one another both publicly and privately without knowing one another and without exposing their personal identities. Because of this follower mode, it is also much easier for people to create an online community. This is because they can find and follow a blog that they identify with without having to request permission from the host or send a friend request like on many other social media platforms. (Larson and Meredith)

These affordances around privacy and anonymity allow people to peacefully protest in a much safer space. It also allows prosumers to create a much broader network of like-minded people to engage in discussion with. This creates an establishment of wide communities of users with shared beliefs. This means that the movement then spreads as it becomes more and more talked about and is brought to global attention.

Another reason that Tumblr is a great platform for activism is that all of the different types of content it affords people to engage in/with. Tumblr enables people to blog and reblog media in all different forms including photos, art, text, videos, gifs, and music. (Safronova) As a result of Tumblr allowing its users to engage in these various forms of media, it helps people to get their message across in a form that they identify best with.

When searching the hashtag #blacklivesmatter on Tumblr all sorts of various forms of media pop up. The text posts, images, gifs, and art that come up are all extremely different but all fighting for the same cause and all connected using the same hashtag. As a result of this, it allows the movement to reach people with different interests. People who have an interest in art and follow mostly art blogs on Tumblr will come across #blacklivesmatter as the versatility of the Tumblr platform affords people the ability to bring the movement to so many different individuals.

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Screenshot of posts using the #blacklivesmatter hashtag displaying the different forms of media used in the Black Lives Matter movement. These include text posts, gifs, photos, and news clips.

It should also be noted that there are not many things that cannot be uploaded to Tumblr. While a lot of the #blacklivesmatter content on Tumblr can be uncomfortable, it is so important in making people aware of how big of an issue racial inequality is and how much it affects those subjected to it. Videos of police brutality and violence are constantly shared around Tumblr forcing users to be aware of what is going on and be unable to ignore it. On other social media platforms, posting this sort of thing may go against the “social norms” of that platform or may not be allowed to be posted at all or be taken down. Tumblr affords its users the ability to post these harder-to-see but more influential posts in order to create awareness and bring about change.

As stated before; Hutchby’s definition of affordances is that things can offer the possibility of action, and this is true in Tumblr’s case. Tumblr affords many possibilities for action especially in terms of social activism and online protest (443). The many affordances of Tumblr have allowed the Black Lives Matter movement to be talked about on a global scale. Tumblr has afforded this not only through the use of the #blacklivesmatter hashtag but also through its many other affordances which allow it to be such a great platform for online activism. Tumblr differs from other social media platforms as it allows its users a sense of anonymity, safety, and the ability to use and mix many different forms of media to share the black lives matter the message. It also allows users to share the kind of content that will get people talking which may not be allowed on other social media platforms. While injustices towards people of colour, such as police brutality, continue to occur, it is clear that from the use of social media platforms such as Tumblr, people are beginning to become more aware of the issue. By creating a global conversation on these social media platforms, users are aiming to bring about change and justice.

 

Cited works

Barnes, Shana. “Affordances of Hashtags in Social Networking”, New Ways to Communicate Online, BlogSpot, 2011, http://newwaystocommunicatecmc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/09/affordances-of-hashtags-in-social.html

Clark, Meredith D, et al. Beyond the Hashtags. #Fergusson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice, Centre for Media and Social Impact, 2016

Garza, Alicia. “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement”, 2014

Hutchby, Ian. “Technologies, Texts and Affordances”, Sage Journals, 35, no. 2, 2001

Jurgenson, Nathan and Ritzer, George. Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The nature of capitalism in the age of the digital ‘prosumer’

Larson, Kyle and Meredith, Taylor. “Why Tumblr?”, Researching Tumblr Feminism, WordPress, https://researchingtumblrfeminism720.wordpress.com/why-tumblr/

Meikle, Graham. Social media; communication, sharing and visibility. First Edition, Routledge, 2016

Safronova, Valeriya. “Millennials and the Age of Tumblr Activism”, New York Times, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/style/millennials-and-the-age-of-tumblr-activism.html?mcubz=1)

Turner, Michael. “Structures of Participation and Contestation”: Publics and Protest on the Tumblr Dashboard. George Washington University, 2016

Yarima, Bonilla, and Jonathan, Rosa. “#Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States”. Journal of the American Ethnological Society, 42, no. 1, 2015, pp. 8

Why Privacy Matters

Today I typed my name into google and discovered that the second thing that pops up is a link to my Facebook page. Until now I had never really thought about my privacy settings on Facebook.  I was so sure that everything was set to friends only and that I could not be searched up online however this was not the case. When checking my privacy settings I discovered that not only can my facebook and other social media platforms be googled, but also all my photos can be viewed as well as my friends’ list and other information I did not know was accessible to people who are not my friends.

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Image One: My facebook page that anybody can currently search.  Image Two: Screenshot of my privacy settings.

After freaking out a little bit that I had been living this way for so long, I changed my profile settings. Now while anyone can still send me a friend request, only my facebook friends can see any personal information on my facebook page. I have also now changed my settings to make sure nobody can search me by email or phone number.

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Screenshot of what now happens when searching my email address in facebook after changing my settings.

While finding out a lot more about how easily accessible my online presence is, I found myself relating to a lot of things Megan Whelan talked about in her blog post. In her post, she says “Our ability to control who sees what online feels a lot like that – like it’s not up to us, but some different, slightly malevolent, force. It’s hard to feel ownership over something that’s constantly being taken away from you.”  This is very similar to the feeling I felt after realizing how easy it is to out a whole lot of info about me from a simple google search and how out of control and ignorant I was until today.

After reading Whelan’s blog and learning of the instances of people being stalked and searched online, I have now realized how important my privacy settings. While I can tell Facebook my privacy preferences, it still does not mean information about me is still not easily accessible on the internet.

Micro-Celebrities and Self-Branding

During my 2013 Tumblr addiction, I stumbled upon micro-celebrity 22-year-old Tash Bonniface. As a lover of fashion Tash rose to “Tumblr fame” by posting her own fashion pics to her Tumblr blog specklesoftash,  as well as ‘reblogging’ pictures from other well-known blogs. From Tash’s Tumblr fame came her Instagram fame. While still an active user of Tumblr, Tash posts all of her everyday outfit pics to her Instagram where she now has a massive 16.5 thousand followers.

 

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Screenshots from Tash’s Instagram and Tumblr

 

After becoming incredibly popular on these social media platforms, Tash has moved her love of fashion to her blog. Through her blog and her various forms of social media, Tash has created a life for herself by “self-branding”.  Alice Marwick defines the concept of self-branding as “primarily a series of marketing strategies ap- plied to the individual. It is a set of practices and a mindset, a way of thinking about the self as a salable commodity that can tempt a potential employer.” This is exactly what Tash does every day.

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Blog post from Tash’s My Wardrobe On a Blog

People are enticed by Tash’s image on her social media platforms and as she keeps up her “brand” and gains followers, she also gains the business of other people wanting to use her ‘brand’ to benefit their own. By collaborating with other brands and tagging all of her clothing items in pictures, Tash is not only building her own empire, but her image is also very important to the brands who are employing her to sell their products.

Alice Marwick also states in her article “social media allows people to strategically con- struct an identity in ways that are deeply rooted in contemporary ideas that the self is autonomous and constantly improving.” Because Tash is keeping up with all the latest trends she has constructed an identity that keeps her relevant and ensures that her number of followers continue to increase.

 

Social Media Marketing

Advertising has become such a normal part of my social media experience that I don’t really even notice that it’s there. While I am quite oblivious to the thousands of businesses using social media to draw me in, a lot of my online purchases have been as a result of me clicking on a paid ad that has caught my attention without me thinking twice about how it got in my feed.

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Some online shopping ads from my Facebook and Instagram.

This week I decided to take notice of all advertising and paid posts that show up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds that I did not sign up for. The first thing I noticed when I did this was that majority of the ads that I scrolled past were for online clothes shopping. As a prolific online shopper, this did not surprise me but made me feel a little bit uncomfortable as to just how much my everyday online activity was being “watched” without my knowledge.

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Victoria University ad I have noticed quite a bit since starting at Victoria this semester and Wix ad I have noticed after creating my blog on WordPress.

Seeing how much the advertising on my social media related to my interests and searches outside of these two platforms, also made it abundantly clear that the advertising I am seeing on my social media is specifically targeted at me. To do this social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram use algorithms. Tarleton Gillespie states in his articleAlgorithms are not neutral. Algorithms do not function apart from people.”  He also goes on to talk about how what we see on Facebook are not based on an unbiased computer creating algorithms as to what people are responding to the most, but it is actually humans doing most of the targeting. This is made clear through the marketing seen on my social media platforms. The ads that show up on my feeds are a result of myself being identified as a target market by a business, this is why the advertising I am exposed to on my social media platforms appeals to me so much and fits seamlessly into my feed.

Affordances

This week I decided to dive deep into the world of one of the most loved and most hated teen on social media. While I am not exactly proud to admit that I follow all of the Kardashians on most most of their social media platforms, I find myself unable to look away as they display their luxurious lives all over the internet for the world to see.

The main thing I discovered when looking Kylie Jenner’s tweets and scrolling through her 5262 post Instagram feed was the fact that she uses both platforms mainly for marketing. Of the 42 picture she has posted to Instagram over the past month, over half of them have been self-promotion for her lip kits, clothing line and new TV show as well as endorsement ads for other brands broadcasted out to her 96.3 million followers. She also self-promotes through the use of Twitter. Tweeting photos of her latest beauty products, tweeting links to all of her merchandise and re-tweeting good customer reviews.

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Screenshots of Kylie’s Instagram and Twitter accounts

Ian Hutchby’s article argues that, “affordances are functional and relational aspects which frame, while not determining, the possibilities for agents action in relation to an object. In this way, technologies can be understood as artefacts which may be both shaped by and shaping the practices humans use in interaction with and around them.” 

This is very relevant to the way Kylie Jenner uses social media as she has shaped the way she uses Instagram and Twitter to her advantage as a celebrity. Both apps have allowed her to gain success through promotion. The main difference between the two platforms is that the affordances of Instagram have allowed Kylie to share very posed photos that look appealing to her audience in order to gain her likes and ultimately sales with little interaction with consumers. The affordances of Twitter allow Kylie to directly engage with her fans and consumers as they are able to directly tweet her on a platform where she is able to respond and be social with them on a daily basis.

History of Technology

The most recent photo album that exists in my household was created in 2002 and is filled with pictures of my 5-year-old self and family forever immortalised in the film of a $10 disposable camera. Since then technology has rapidly evolved causing not only the extra long waits at Kodak to become almost non-existent but also the $10 disposable camera and the classic photo album.

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With over 700 million monthly active users and roughly 95 million videos and photos posted everyday, it is safe to say that Instagram is a huge part of todays society and is a massive leap in the way we produce, share and view content. As a millennial and avid user of Instagram I could not imagine doing anything else with my “insta-worthy” photos than uploading them to my personal Instagram to share with followers while also creating my own online photo album that I am able to look back on.

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With features such as stories, likes, commenting, direct messaging and photo editing, Instagram as the modern day photo album has allowed its users to be very social through the app and use it for purposes such as promoting businesses and products as well as sharing personal content.

Axel Bruns describes the concept of produsage as being “based on the collaborative engagement of (ideally, large) communities of participants in a shared project.” According to Bruns’ concept, my use of Instagram makes me a produser. This is because I use the app to create and upload my own content as well as to socialize with others making me both a user and a producer of the “modern photo album”.