“Can we recognise animals as subjects with agency – without turning them into humans?”

7, 500 years ago in central Europe, Dairy Farms popped into existence and mankind discovered cows milk. Flash forward to the present, and there are now so many cows bred specifically for meat and dairy that they are literally causing a hole in the ozone layer.
Not all of us have had the displeasure of seeing exactly how these products came to be on our shelves in the supermarket, even ones who have still happily consume and continue to contribute to the demand, while the rest are content to sit idly by, munching on flesh and preferring to not think about where it came from.

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Animals have always lived among us, as far back as 10,000 years ago when cats were first domesticated in ancient Egypt. Even then, arguably less evolved as we are now, we were able to look beyond our greed and recognise animals for what they were – companions.
So why do we continue to pick and choose our favourites? What contributing factors come into play when we decide to play God with different species? Who gets to live and who dies?

As humans, we often form attachments with non-human beings or objects, anthropomorphism is older than the internet itself. We adopt dogs, cats, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits and even rats to love and form relationships with (I have two cats myself) and yet when faced with the thought of consuming that beloved pet, it’s seen as unbearable, hideous, inhumane. Why?
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It is easy to see why we form these kinds of relationships when you grow up in a world ruled by disney and cartoons. Where your best friend is a little dog with little problems – just like you. Children empathise with these characters, and this form of media is what creates that curiosity and understanding that paves the way for the bonds we have for animals later in life.

In her book Perceptions of Animals in American Culture‘, Elizabeth Lawrence states that: “Among the explanations for why we in Western culture, and particularly in contemporary American society, neotenized our animals as we do is our need to gain a sense control over them. As docile and playful ‘children,’ they may be relegated to a separate category, without full citizenship in our world”.

I agree with this argument, non-human animals are considered second class citizens in our world. The fact that we consume them alone is a testament that we see them as less than we are.

The power of connectivity: YouTube and It’s media domination

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YouTube was created in 2005 by co-founder Chad Hurley (Jawed Karim and Steve Chang) and was sold to Internet giant Google in late 2006 for $1.65 billion (MoreViews Inc., 2012). The creation of this platform allowed the upload and sharing of user-based content, blurring the lines of the relationship between the creators of online media, and it’s audiences. Burgess et al (2009) discusses the importance of YouTube in relation to media production and consumption in the book YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. The authors explore the idea of YouTube as a platform and the participation of the community in a common space.

YouTube intervenes in a much larger history of participatory culture, offering new mechanisms for promotion and circulation of amateur media. YouTube emerged from the utopian fantasies of early cyber-advocates and from the decisions made by a range of different subcultural communities and interest groups to seek a shared rather than localised platform for distributing their content(Burgess et al., 2009)

What this means is that YouTube is not only a technology designed to allow it’s audience to participate, collaborate and generate, it is also a domain for the average citizen, ruled by the production of unprofessional content, and consumed by the same people who created it. This adaptation would not have been possible without the concept of convergence, and has opened up a mass amount of possibilities in relation to the public sphere, including the possibility to distribute news, and quickly.

The introduction of this further developed the idea of citizen journalism, which is widely used today by major news corporations, to allow the general public to participate in what was once considered a professional occupation (Mashable, 2013). Amateurs took to YouTube to share their live news coverage, enabling users to create a participatory culture outside of the control of the mass media giants, who once regulated the gateway that determined the flow of information being released into the public domain.

What differentiates YouTube from the standard social networking site is that it went further by enabling and documenting the creation of an online community in a way that is both visual and interactive. The YouTube logo says it all: broadcast yourself” (Rassi, 2007)

Just as new and developing media platforms continue to rise from the internet, the old ones are coming up with fresh and creative ways to update their appeal to the public. In 2014, YouTube offered its own live-stream coverage of the State of the Union address, allowing viewers to listen to the President at their computers or through their mobile phones instead of the television.

“Not only did this give lots of Net users an attractive additional option for watching, it also allowed YouTube to offer a unique live service, something that could become a more common habit for future live events.” (Demers, 2014)

Constantly adapting to its users changing preferences, YouTube has become the ultimate interactive technology. From online comics, books, video and music playlists, skits, vines, vlogs, marketing tools, political broadcasts and opinions, it’s never been easier to connect with other people, and become apart of the customisable domain you as a consumer (and producer) have helped create.

This is just one of the ways that a media platform shapes our lives, anything is accessible in an instant, and you get a front row seat right when it happens.

References

Burgess, J. and Green, J 2009, Online video and participatory culture, 1st ed. Oxford: Polity Press.

Demers, J 2014, Op-Ed: Politics, books and marketing: YouTube still changing the world, Digitaljournal.com, viewed 6 April 2016, <http://digitaljournal.com/tech/technology/op-ed-politics-books-and-marketing-youtube-still-changing-the-world/article/368347&gt;

Mashable 2013, Citizen Journalism, viewed 6 April 2016, <http://mashable.com/category/citizen-journalism/&gt;

Rassi, T 2007, YouTube: Examining a Revolution, gnovisjournal, 8(1), p.12.

International Initiation

“…local practices must change. They must change. Australians are often… too parochial, trapped within an Australia-centred view of a diverse and complex world.” (Marginson 2012)

Imagine moving to a new country and trying to learn a new language, with no family, friends, anybody or anything familiar around you. The money is different, people look at you different (if they notice you at all) and you just can’t seem to fit in to a multicultural society that – by definition –  is supposed to be embracing you.

As one of the hardest spoken languages on earth, Australian culture gives the english language a run for its money with it’s various shortcuts and slangs. Many students who travel to Australia to study find it difficult to keep up with the variations, having only learnt proper english by the book, not the version edited by society. These differences make it hard for overseas visitors to feel accepted or at home, because when they have trouble understanding you and you them – it’s not likely you’re going to strike up a conversation and form the kind of relationships people do in order to break down cultural barriers and most things tend to get lost in translation.

In order to create a welcoming and stable environment, it’s important to offer more support and encouragement than we would each other, taking into account that international students are automatically starting from a point of spoken and social disadvantage; and of course that over a third of our population is already foreign-born, and

The saying “treat others how you would like to be treated” comes to mind when explaining the importance of helping international students feel accepted and at home, especially as a young adult. I have personally never stepped a foot outside of my own country, but I know that I will, and when I do I’ll be putting a lot of my security, safety, language and direction into the hands of other people, and I could not honestly imagine doing all of that alone, could you?

References

Abs.gov.au 2010, 1370.0 – Measures of Australia’s Progress 2010, viewed 4 September 2015,<http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370.0~2010~Chapter~Overseas%20born%20population%20(3.6)&gt;

Marginson, S 2012, Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience: International education as self-formation powerpoint slides, viewed 4 September 2015.

My culture is not a trend

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We all have that one friend that goes to parties dressed up in a crewed moustache and sombrero, an African-American headress or wears sparkly bindi’s or other body jewellery to every outdoor festival. It’s easy to think of these cultural dress’s as an ‘outfit’ when coming from a place of privilege, something to try on or off at will, without regard to the native people these cultures belong to.

That really is the key word when understanding the difference between appropriation and appreciation: privilege.
As westerners we adopted the traits of every culture as a result of colonisation and the forced assimilation of indigenous people, which is why for example wearing or selling a headress outside of this culture is not okay, because it is unjustly taking something from somebody else and profiting from that market – somebody else’s culture is not yours to objectify, it is not a fashion accessory.
It is also important to remember that appropriation is not spread equally between cultures because power is not spread equally, and as a result of forced assimilation reverse appropriation cannot be applied to minorities.

Throughout history we have seen constant attempts from the Western world to own these symbols of identity, from casting non-indigenous and white people to represent people of colour and from different nationalities, creating and appropriating rap music – to the social adaptation and commodification of dreadlocks everywhere, by wearing or contributing to this market you are by definition stealing from somebody else to make their culture profitable.

BP#3 – Why are ethics important in research?

In my first year of university I was given a task to complete.
We were to set out individually onto campus and capture students on camera unknowingly while they used some kind of portable electronic device, and then we were to show them to each other and discuss our findings. At the beginning of the class we were shown a video of a man who uses a digital camera to film people on the street to publicly showcase their reaction on Youtube, where anybody with access to the internet can view them. The purpose of showing us this video was as obvious as the message it was promoting: showcasing somebody’s image without their consent is morally and ethically wrong, and so the class rightfully and respectfully refused to show each other.

We face asking ourselves these kinds of questions every single day where the situation arises, not because we have to, but because we should. Understanding the necessity of ethics in every aspect of life is important, and understanding why that also applies to research is equally and even more-so important, because research can have a large and fatal impact on the lives of everybody. A good example of the danger of unethical research is the treatment received by jewish concentration camp prisoners in the second world war, where extremely inhuman and often fatal experiments were conducted on prisoners of war (weerakoddy 2008). As well as to prevent the harm of others, ethical guidelines in research are put in place to ensure that confidentiality, anonymity, informed consent and privacy requirements are cleared before the research is pursued or presented, this ensures that the entire process is legal when concerning live test participants.

Of course research itself does have it’s own set of guidelines, these consist of certain rules and regulations to verify that all of the work involved is objective, honest and not plagiarised before it is published. Misuse of this conduct can be seen through the ‘perfect family’ exploration, which questionably suggests that if you aren’t apart of a married two-parent family, your life is probably going to be dysfunctional and messy – if it isn’t already. Although there are obvious links to behaviour and separation within family homes, suggesting that this outcome is black and white without considering important individual factors seems like a bit of a stretch, and doesn’t quite fit ethical guidelines because there is no way to prove that this result is honest.

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It’s much easier and safer to ensure that what you’re doing is morally and ethically correct, not just because we have to – but because we should.

References:

Weerakoddy N 2008, Research ethics in media and communication, Research methods for media and communications, pp.73-91

BP#2 Text Analysis

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“If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids”

That’s right – the word ‘feminist’ was included in Time magazines “which word should be banned in 2015?” poll, in an effort to seemingly connect with the younger generation. Although the editor, Nancy Gibbs, publicly posted a public apology stating that the purpose of including the word was to shed light on the way in which it was being used, as opposed to the fundamental principals behind the movement, “You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party?” Katy Steinmetz writes, but the target audience wasn’t convinced, and neither was a large portion of anybody else.
“They suggest that feminism has weighed women down, caused depression, made women either look like/and or hate men, and leave behind fawning Aryan children” writes ABC’s Julia Bowes. “If we can take Time Magazine as representative of the middle-of-the-road media’s views on feminism, and an accurate gauge of current popular opinion, its representations of feminism certainly give cause for concern”.

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Many questioned why – despite the excuse – the word was included in the first place, demanding a more substantial explanation. Even if the term in itself is being allegedly “over-used” by celebrities and various other media personalities, the public had a question: since when did identifying as a feminist become a bad thing, when the potential to raise awareness to the cause and promote empowerment and equality follows? The magazine only posted the apology after it caused an eruption of outrage and controversy by the community, and left many readers disappointed and choosing to click the ‘unsubscribe’ button. It comes as no surprise, considering how influential and revolutionary the movement is; and to all identifying feminists out there who feel that the term is definitely not something to be taken lightly, or used comparatively as the butt of a joke on a poll alongside words such as ‘YOLO’ and ‘bae’.

For a magazine that itself prompts celebrities to ‘out themselves as feminists’ in their own interviews, it sure does seem they like to downplay their front-seat role in the controversy amongst all of these “politicians declaring parties”.
Although; the conflicting hypocritical evidence does beg the question – which party are they really voting for?

 

 

BP#1 – What is media research?

The art of researching is something we take part of everyday, yet when we put a name to what we’re doing it always prompts an internal groan. From deciding what new converging device to purchase, to where our next adventurous holiday will be, even to what University we plan on attending, research is such a fundamental part of our lives that most of the time, we don’t even realise it’s what we’re doing. In the context of media the definition tightens, and the word ‘scholarly’ is placed in front, intertwined with enough rules and regulations to justify the inevitable headache that follows. While some might say that certain rules are put in place to be broken, media research is a large exception to this, and there are a number of very good reasons why.

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Source: http://knowyourmeme.com/forums/meme-research/topics/19319-shrek-is-dreck–check-yourself-before-you-shrek-yourself
Scholarly research differs from normal everyday research, in the sense that the conclusion is not based on a personal or more subjective view, but rather quite an objective and theory based one (berger 2014) What this means is that the information we present, or the conclusions we draw from our research should be morally and ethically sound, as the fundamental practice of scholarly research is, after all, to get to the truth of things.
Although the purpose of this kind of research is more refined and involves validating credibility, underlying bias and disputes among scholarly writers regarding interpretation blur the lines. This can sometimes cause the validity of the research to be questionable, as data is seen as a result of individual conclusion.
We gather scholarly data generally in two ways;

Quantitative research: Uses numbers, hard and objective information. e.g, a survey.

Qualitative research: Less precise, is based around meanings, metaphors, symbols and is known as more subjective.  e.g a personal interview where the outcome depends on the subjects mood.

The aspect of research I want to participate in is primary foreign research, to travel and to see things first-hand so I can be certain about my findings and ultimately my conclusions. I feel that it’s easier to write about what you know, and what you know comes primarily from first-hand experience. This is a broader label for a more narrow subject, which focus’s mainly on women’s rights and oppression in third world and non-white societies. This would use a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative research, as the subject is human interest and quite personal, but must be based on hard facts and numbers to achieve the primary goal.

Blog Review: Everything so far.

WordPress has been an essential part of my university experience, since week one I’ve had to keep numerous blogs for different subjects, primarily for communications and media. Combining three separate BCM subjects into one blog allowed me to develop a written personality, which I’ve tried to keep consistent throughout the duration of my blogging experience.

Blogging allows me to complete these tasks on a more personal level, and although the content is taken seriously and marked according to strict criteria the page is essentially my own, so showcasing that and ensuring that the design was specific to myself was a very important priority.

The overall design of the blog was chosen for its simplicity, yet also its customizable properties. This was in order to maintain a level of professionalism while ensuring that it also represented myself, and showed character. Diplomacy (2014) states in their document Blogging best practices that a personal touch is a key attribute in the engagement of your audience, that blogs “Live, breathe and die” on this involvement and is detrimental to developing a voice. The most important thing to me was that my readers understood that I am a person, people connect with other people and the more individuality I illustrate, the more they can relate to what I am saying. The about me section is honest, I haven’t tried to be professional and I haven’t tried to be serious, it contains what I consider to be the most important information about myself, who I am, what I do and what I’m here for.

In the side panel the first feature is my recent posts, this allows up to five previews of what I have previously posted, which in doing so saves time scrolling or sifting through the other pages, the archive and category features also promote this, although both very differently. Archiving achieves access according to date and category is specific to which subject; by allowing more options to the reader I’m essentially making my blog easier to navigate. Implementing other social networking sites was one of the first things I did when I first created the page, this allowed wider and easier access to my content and in addition, ensured that it was distributed and shared among a variety of people throughout different platforms. This also allows easier criticism and engagement from other BCM students and of course, the people marking it. Using a category system, I am able to label each of my posts separately and accordingly, this permits the reader a much more accessible way of finding what they’re looking for via the use of tagging, and is also quite important when you’re using one blog for multiple subjects. The text is large so also clear and quite easy to read, and for my font I chose one simple and well spaced in default black, complimented by the blue of the links. This decision was made to contrast the important information (such as the date, the category and the hyperlinks) on purpose, and also tributes to the colour of my background and the site title (which consequently is my last name).

This subject challenged me especially as a writer, as previously everything I had written had been focused around social media as a whole, or the issues relevant to those mediums. In this subject however, the focus was more on people and their relationships to specific media, an idea in which I was foreign to and found difficult to relate to in my posts. I feel like this had a profound effect on my work, and didn’t keep up to the same standard as my prior blog posts.
I additionally strongly feel like this difference affected the flow particularly, as previously my blog seemed to have developed a theme, and as my confidence in what I was writing about faltered my posts seemed to as well.

To me a good blog is one that you can engage in with the confidence of knowing what’s coming next. You come to expect a certain standard of work and whether it is something good or something disappointing, getting the feel of a person or how they write is important to develop a relationship. I think in the beginning I managed to successfully do that, but gradually started to lose my voice with my confidence, my research wasn’t as clear as it usually was and the use of relevant links declined noticeably and I believe that shows. Additionally, I’m aware of that what may have held me back was not completely related to my understanding or ability to complete these tasks, but more as a side-effect of personal issues that caused a sense of detachment within my writing.

Overall, I have always enjoyed the freedom that blogging allows and love the way that it enables you to implement yourself into what you do. One of the most useful advantages is being able to get to know the people you’re engaging with more intimately, and the use of feedback via the commenting system promotes healthy criticism and a more actively engaging environment. Although not entirely happy with every aspect of my blog, I do believe it succeeds in representing me and in the future hope to perfect the consistency of my work.
 

 
References
Diplomacy.edu 2014, Blogging best practices, p.1, Diplomacy.edu, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.diplomacy.edu/sites/default/files/Blogging%20best%20practices.pdf&gt;