Let’s reflect

RESEARCH, REsearch, reSEARCH, research, re s e a r c  h… r     e  s  e a   r c  h.

These thirteen weeks have been interesting, stressful and a learning experience. As I conclude this research paper, I can reflect on the process as a whole.

Overall, it has allowed my abilities as a researcher to develop further than before. This improvement is based on how I tackle sources, including my own primary data (survey) and from there, how I analyse what I have gathered. As a student, this is incredibly valuable as research is so often a requirement. I used both primary and secondary sources as I wanted to have access to as much information as possible, in regard to this topic. Research isn’t as simple as many would assume. Yes, it includes a search engine of some sort but it also includes the use of accountability, flexibility and integrity.

Accountability refers to a researcher’s duty to the public, including one’s stakeholders and the participants when gathering any form of primary data. In my case, I created a survey as a way of gathering primary information. Prior to beginning the survey I attached a greeting which included an introduction, my key contact details (my email: sm918@uowmail.edu.au, twitter handle: @sophemacy and link to my blog: www.sophemacy.wordpress.com) and this short statement – “By beginning this survey, you’re consenting to your answers being used in this research project”. This is important as a researcher as you’re responsible for making your participants aware of how their data is being used and where their information is published. A researcher is also accountable for how their participants react or respond to the findings which makes your contact details vital so communication can occur.

Another research value to consider is flexibility as it is needed as a researcher. Flexibility coincides with a researcher’s ability to adapt when you don’t acquire what you initially thought or anticipated. For instance, I had to be flexible about the number of survey responses I received. As researchers, we can never be certain of an outcome. Despite posting my link onto Twitter and pinning it directly to my page, responses were still coming in slowly. I then posted it to Facebook and the BCM212 moodle page which allowed me to gather more data. However, this resulted in less than twenty responses overall. As Dr. Kate Bowles stated in a lecture, “We need to develop companion skills: adaptability, and ability to work calmly within uncertainty” (2017). Although, I had a limited number of responses, the responses I did have were detailed and gave me the data which I used in my final report. In Tolerating AmbiguityDugan alludes to how we dislike the feeling of “being uncertain” as we see it as a “liability” but ultimately, we can adapt to the circumstances we are given. This is a fundamental part of the researching process. 

Lastly, the use of integrity is fundamental as a researcher builds from the ideas of others. Within the University of Wollongong’s Academic Integrity Policy it states “academic integrity is foundational to the work of the whole academic community, including students, teachers, researchers, coordinators and administrators” (UOW, 2011). We all have a great responsibility to reference and cite our sources. Throughout this process of researching, I used a separate document to reference directly after finding a source. This made it easier to see where I was getting ideas from and each source’s value to my project. To remain ethical, researchers must uphold the value of integrity. 

Initially, I intended to post regular updates via Twitter for my stakeholders but due to the word limit I used this platform (my blog) instead. Other than that, I followed my communication plan and Gantt chart to the best of my ability. I saw the value in following a schedule as it’s difficult to cram researching into your weekly timetable. The results I gathered and interpreted have been essential to my final report. I followed my initial plan for methodology as I used primary data from my survey as well as secondary sources. Creating a survey online via Google Forms allowed it to be spread quite easily, as simple as copy and paste. I promoted my survey to my stakeholders via Twitter and Facebook. This was beneficial to the process as it gave me more time to research as I wasn’t spending time physically handing out sheets of paper and creating pie charts and graphs myself. Google Forms was a great tool as it would automatically summarise my quantitative results.

I plan to remain updated with memetic theory and its evolution. I’m constantly engaging with memes and literature so I’ll continue to make the connection between them both.

Feel free to read my initial proposal if you wish to know how I began this process.

I’d thought I would end with a meme:

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References: 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a ‘Nosedive’ into today’s culture

Black Mirror’s first episode of season three; ‘Nosedive’ discusses the common questions that arise with the growth of technology and increased use of social media.

Why is there such an obsession with our online self rather than our real (offline) self?

The episode begins and we immediately meet Lacie (who is played by Bryce Dallas Howard). A character who is obsessed with achieving a certain aesthetic. It isn’t just Lacie but everyone in society as they rate each other on social media (constantly). This rating affects how one feels about themselves as well as how others perceive them. ‘Nosedive’ is a satirical and dark dystopian story about the potential dangers of creating false online personas. Lacie lives in a narcissist, pastel world that lacks in humanity.

Yes, this is an extreme and fictitious take on today’s social media craze. However, we can all relate. How many times have you scrolled down your Instagram feed and seen food perfectly organised and untouched? We’ve all seen at least one #acaibowl amrite? I love food so I say why not but there is definitely an obsessive nature that comes with creating a perfect online ‘mask’ for yourself. It seems like it would be exhausting to monitor your own self. We all have agency or choice in the matter but that choice can be easily swayed by others and their perception of us.

What mask are you wearing?

Here’s an update

Hello stakeholders, readers, friends…

Surprisingly I’m on schedule with my initial plan despite getting caught up with the latest #dankmemes. I’ve created my survey questions (via Google Forms) but am still awaiting some more responses. However, so far my results have expressed how valuable memes really are to popular culture. Most answers have alluded to a frequent daily meme engagement. One hundred per cent of surveyees have made the connection between ‘high-brow culture’ and literature which was expected. I’ve been happily surprised with my other results and look forward to interpreting and analysing them at a later date.

I’m still researching and finding new sources to use. However, It is a struggle as memetic theory is still a relevantly new topic. I did find a fascinating paper – ‘Victorian Memes‘ written by Karen Bourrier which makes a connection between the Victorian novel as a genre and Twitter.

[It was a good day – I was really excited to read something so similar to my topic.]

Anyway, I’m off. I’ve got to get back to the research…(and memes).

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Please note: my survey is live, please click to participate if you haven’t already. I’d greatly appreciate it!

 

Open your mind to open source

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I watch an episode of Silicon Valley and instantly long to be a tech-genius. The ability to build software from scratch and frequently speak the language of 0’s and 1’s seems to be the ultimate dream…

In the land of open source, there are no gatekeepers and no restrictions placed on users. The people are given the power and could code their own systems if they wish. One can use, modify and adjust the internal system based on personal preference. It is entirely up to the user/s.

Open source encourages three main things for the user (unlike a closed source):

  • Collaboration
  • Modification
  • Customisation

All contributing to how powerful open source systems can be. Take Wikipedia for example. It’s an information goldmine and an open source with thousands of volunteers editing and adding information daily. The organisation of Wikipedia is based on the idea of collaboration with no one formally employed. An initial plan is placed allowing users to follow or evolve the system as they please. The choice is there.

Open source is based on the idea of self governance. There is no hierarchy, the control is handed over and BAM! it’s up to you. I was surprised at this idea as I thought surely there isn’t much of a difference. I discovered how wrong I was when my iPhone died and I needed a new phone. As a struggling student, I looked for the cheaper option. I found the OPPO A57 to be very ideal – under $500, aesthetically pleasing and an open source.

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A transmedia story

Technology continues to develop and so does the way we engage with our chosen entertainment. This as a result has allowed for the growth of transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is based on the idea that a single narrative can be bred into a collective. These versions being made onto multiple media platforms. Dr. Pamela Rutledge alludes to the idea of each being a puzzle piece contributing to the storyline as a whole. Daniel Clowes‘ Ghost World is a great example of a piece of transmedia storytelling as it began as a graphic novel and was then adapted into a film.

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Although, the storyline remains, there can be obvious differences from changing the medium (the medium is the message after all). The graphic novel’s colour scheme alone is different from the film. The graphic novel is limited to 3 colours; blue, black and white (see below).

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By translating it to film, realism is achieved and the story becomes more apparent via the perspective of the director, Terry Zwigoff. The film also introduces a new character into the plot line. The character of Seymour personifies common elements seen in the graphic novel. Seymour is fundamental to Enid’s characterisation and ongoing development as the protagonist. Henry Jenkins says an ‘ideal‘ transmedia story allows for “each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” The character of Seymour is the “unique contribution” the film needs for the storyline to thrive on screen.

This additional medium enhances how the audience engages with the text, one can choose whether they want to read or watch Ghost World. Despite the original form being the graphic novel, the film allows the story to mature further. A story is no longer restricted to the one medium but many through the act of transmedia storytelling.

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Am I right to copy? 

Due to copyright infringement unfortunately not. What does this mean for creativity and the ongoing stream of ideas if everything is restricted? Today, user-generated content dominates with the invention of the internet.

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Has this ever happened to you mid YouTube binge?

The internet makes the monitoring of copyright tricky as it is virtually “a copy machine.” This can be a photograph, a phrase, a piece of music or even a colour shade. For instance, when rapper Ghostface Killah‘s Supreme Clientele came out in 2000, the album was accused of stealing samples from the Iron Man theme song. Jack Urbont, the creator of the theme song sued both Ghostface Killah and his label, SonyThe response from Sony was that Urbont had no standing in the case as the song was technically owned by Marvel. Urbont was hired to work by Marvel but not a formal employee. Urbont lost the case despite Marvel revealing Urbont as the “owner” but not the “licensee.”

Today, people “work for hire” regularly as individual contractors rather than full-time employees. It raises the question – who owns what? If you’re paid for a job, does that mean you’re removed from receiving any credit?

Marvel doesn’t hold a grudge (even though Urbont might) as Ghostface Killah was given a cameo in the Iron Man film (2008).

[Relevant note: It was ultimately deleted from the final cut.]

I made an audio piece (via Soundcloud) to accompany my discussion. Ironically, it was removed due to copyright.

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So, here is a short podcast instead:

 

What are your thoughts? Tweet me @sophemacy other interesting copyright cases. I would love to hear from you!

 

Two words: Memes and Literature

Memes. The images and or videos you engage with on a daily basis. Yes, some are humorous. However, memes hold more authority over us than you would initially assume. They define our experiences within this Digital Age in which we live. They spread easily, take on new forms and are constantly evolving, similar to a ‘virus’ (Brodie 2009).

Literature. Defined in many ways but typically described as written work with association to high-brow culture. The role of literature in society is changing as technology does, making this period of time incredibly interesting for us readers. From a graphic novel to a fable, to a poem to an autobiography. Literature too has various forms.

My research began with these two words in mind, memes and literature. Could memes be a modern form of literature in this Digital Age? 

My original question was broad and lacked in context. So, I have chosen to focus on the Digital Age because let’s face it, memes have existed since cavemen and the early stages of visual communication.

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The sources I have uncovered are reliable and allow for various perspectives on these two words I find to be incredibly interesting, memes and literature. I want to hear your perspective of this newly discovered topic. I have created a survey for my stakeholders as I want to gather primary data to analyse. This will ultimately benefit my research project and add depth to my knowledge overall. This is the link to my survey https://goo.gl/forms/C1E435XjszG8YXNQ2 and I would appreciate your participation.

I intend to tweet regularly with updates regarding my project and its progress. Feel free to follow me @sophemacy to remain informed on this relationship between these two words, memes and literature. I will also blog detailed updates for my participants and stakeholders to read.

I welcome any suggestions, questions and or examples relative to this topic via my email sm918@uowmail.edu.au.

References:

  • Brodie, R 2009, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of Memes, Hay House Inc., 1st edn, pp. 4 -34.

GIF: Feel free to click on the image to be directed to the source