#illwalkwithyou/#illridewithyou and Grassroots Positivity

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In the wake of the ‘Sydney Siege’ of 2014, Australians took to social media across the country with the aggregator “#illridewithyou”. Rather than being a running commentary of the fallout of the siege, this campaign was a pledge by users attempting to alleviate fears or concerns within Australian communities. Rather than relating to the siege itself, the hashtag was aimed at Muslim members of the community who, out of fear of backlash or religiously/racially motivated reprisal attacks, felt unsafe walking or riding public transport alone. The tweets bearing the hashtag featured brief descriptions of the user, public transport or walking routes taken by the user and the offer for further contact. In as little as 24 hours from the birth of the hashtag there were a reported 120,000 tweets alone (Ruppert, 2014), growing exponentially before fading in the weeks after the attack.

On the 13th of August, 2016, in the New York borough of Queens, 2 Muslim men walking from afternoon prayers were shot and killed. Though unconfirmed, in the lack of any other motive, local authorities theorised that the act was indeed a religiously motivated hate crime (Cherelus, 2016). Amidst the perception of a heightened threat to the New York Muslim community, #illridewithyou and the similar #illwalkwithyou rose and returned to prominence on social media, this time on the streets and trains of New York (ABC, 2016).

Of course, as well meaning as these declarations are, in wake of both the Sydney and New York violence, there is little empirical evidence to suggest a great deal of application or real world movement. Anecdotally, the tweets that rose in the wake of the ‘Sydney Siege’ are more practical in nature, more frequently giving specific routes and times to ‘ride with’ another member of the community – as demonstrated by this time specific search on Twitter Analytics compared to a similar reading on the 2016 NYC campaign, which appeared to focus on general support for the affected communities.

Practicality is key to understanding these two campaigns. In the wake of supposed terrorist events or hate crimes, most member of the public feel helpless to respond to the attack (Ahmed, 2015, p. 550). With the simple practicality of these campaign, people are able to physically meet with people and take what they saw as a step against extremism.

Other campaigns have rocked social media in the wake of terror attacks. While #illwalkwithyou and #illridewithyou allow people to protect in the case of a perceived threat, similar principles can be utilised to protect against ongoing, active threats. In the midst of the 2015 November Paris attacks, Parisians in affected districts took to social media with the hashtag #PorteOuverte, offering those trapped on the streets shelter (Graham-Harris & Mcveigh, 2015). Literally meaning “open door”, the hashtag allowed Parisian citizens to take action against the attacks rocking their city.

The popularity of these campaigns all reflect the want of the public to take physical action against attacks. Simultaneously, the accessibility of the physical actions promised by the hashtags allowed otherwise simple, everyday actions to become unified stances against extremism. This is opposition to similar campaigns, i.e. #blacklivesmatter or #JeSuisCharlie, which carry political messages but do not invite a particular, simple action.

The hashtags all called for simple actions anyone could take, alleviating the powerlessness that people feel in the wake of attacks. By focusing on the local, the simple and the immediately accessible, these campaigns were able to make the leap from simple social media activism to real world influence – however minor. It is because of this that these campaigns should be remember and, if necessary, emulated.

 

References

ABC, 2016, ‘#IllWalkWithYou campaign kicks off on social media in support of US Muslims after fatal shooting’, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, August 14, viewed 20/8/16 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-14/illwalkwithyou-trends-in-support-of-muslims-after-fatal-shooting/7733042

Ahmed, S 2015, ‘The ‘emotionalization of the “war on terror”’: Counter-terrorism, fear, risk, insecurity and helplessness’, Criminology & Criminal Justice: An International Journal, 15, 5, p. 545

Cherelus, G 2016, ‘New York man in court charged with murdering Muslim cleric, assistant’, Reuters, August 17, viewed 20/8/16 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-new-york-shooting-idUSKCN10O0X4

Graham-Harrison, E & McVeigh, T 2015, ‘Parisians throw open doors in wake of attacks, but Muslims fear repercussions’, Guardian, November 15, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/14/paris-attacks-people-throw-open-doors-to-help

Ruppert, B 2014, ‘Martin Place siege: #illridewithyou hashtag goes viral’, Sydney Morning Herald, December 16, viewed 20/8/16 http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/martin-place-siege-illridewithyou-hashtag-goes-viral-20141215-127rm1.html

 

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Week 3: Sex, Drugs and Ethnography

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The cohorts efforts in the ‘memory research’ assignment have yielded a plethora of insightful, entertaining and awkward parent conversations. Countless BCM240 students have taken the plunge and sat down with their parents to discuss the influences that TV had on their social dynamics as it was slowly introduced. Now you’re all caught up, let’s dive in.

A majority of pieces that I read focused on the expansive, almost inclusive effects that television had on social units. Rather than being the death of society, the ultimate degenerator that our parents warned us about as children, the majority of elders reflected on television positively. Almost all blogs that I read mentioned a fondness for the television and the role it took in the home. Rather than dividing and reducing the unit, elders described the television as a binding force. Units would come together, especially in the day of fixed or live broadcasting, to watch a program. Instead of being a simple media item to consume, the program would be a spectacle or activity enjoyed simultaneously by the whole family – a collaborative media performance producing common experiences.

This was not alone as a common factor. Recollections of sitting on the floor to make space for adults, kids not being allowed to watch any TV without the watchful and wary supervision of an adult and countless other commonalities perviate the BCM240 blogs. After the surprisingly positive effects of television, the second most important common trait was the evolving role of the news. Set amidst such historically significant events as the Vietnam war, the space race and the larger Cold War, news became a messenger delivering incredible, amazing and terrifying bulletins straight to the living rooms of people everywhere – even in living colour, as technology advanced.

The Moon Landing, JFK assassination and footage of the Vietnam war all feature in recollections of past broadcasts. Compared to these, frequently, lies on of the most disturbing and instantaneously televised events of modern history, the terror attacks of 9/11.

Research projects like these are incredibly valuable. More than a simple recording of an oral history, projects like these allow for a form of ethnographic advance. As well as allowing the transfer of simple data, ethnographic exchange allows for the recording and propagation of emotional impressions and effects. When this flourishes ethnography becomes a collaborative effort. Either to simply enhance communication or to address and solve a problem, collaborative ethnography emerges to involve not just the researcher trying to understand the subject, but to also feature the studied understanding the researcher. The exchange fosters, in the ideal example, mutual benefit.

In class we have covered a fair deal of this, but I promised sex and drugs, so I’m going to talk briefly about a practical application of ethnography.

After researching and writing about the Hells Angels motorcycle ‘gang’ in 1965, Hunter S. Thompson spent over a year in close proximity with the club. Though functioning at the time as a journalist, eventually Thompson would publish a book on his time with the club in an ethnographic fashion. The book, “Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga”, would later be described by social and cultural geographer Bradley Garret as one of the top five most influential ethnographic works.

If you haven’t heard of Thompson, no description I could give would adequately explain the personified madness. You should research that yourself. The entire Hells Angel book is available online for free, here. I’d strongly recommend reading it drunk, but reading it sober will do in a pinch.

Through a mutual exchange with the gang, Thompson was able to somewhat explain their violent and anomalous behavior “from the inside out” (Garret, 2015). As well, in exchange for the study of their behavior, members of the gang were able to explain and defend their lifestyle and actions. The ethnographic exchange proved incredibly effective, leading to a greater academic and social understanding of the emerging trends of social deviance and criminality. As a result, the book is held in wide regard within both social geography and literary circles.

Of course, the study concludes with Thompson being attacked and beaten by dozens of members of the gang, what they coined as “stomping”.

I guess what I’m saying is that ethnography can be an incredibly effective tool in the exploration of other cultures and people, but some bikers will probably beat you up. I’m surprised that didn’t come up in our classes attempts at memory research, actually.

 

References

Garret, B 2015, ‘Why gonzo journalism is crucial to our understanding of cities and their tribes’, The Guardian, 20th May  < https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/may/20/gonzo-journalism-cities-tribes-ethnographer-hunter-s-thompson >

Lassiter, LE 2005, The Chicago Guide To Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Week 4: Ultrahouse 3000

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite that advanced, but the networked home is advancing and with the eventual mass implementation of the internet of things, we might actually be facing the emergence of the fully online, fully automated house sometime within our lifetime. Before that, though, we will face the networked home.

Essentially, this concept identifies the contemporary phenomena where networks, be they the larger internet or local, have infiltrated the modern home. Effectively, connecting every computer, screen, speaker and media intermediary in your house to a larger network. If you’ve read my cribs post then you’ll know your way around my personal network and know that I’m a pretty big fan of the networked home. How though does my father feel about this? In keeping with the task of the week, I’ve returned to the subject of the television interview to query how the networked home is “changing television space or other practices in [the] household”.

My Fathers first response, after hearing an explanation of the networked home:

“Ooo, you should reference that episode of The Simpsons where the house is HAL and it tries to kill Homer. Seems appropriate.”

Dads and their suggestions. Pfft. Moving on.

I suppose that my home isn’t really networked at all. I mean, I don’t have the internet here anymore, just the 4G on my phone and I use that on my tablet… I guess the only way it’s really changed the ‘media dynamic’ of my living room is by letting me use my tablet while I’m watching the TV. I’ll do that, check out tv guides or read news in adds, maybe during boring bits of shows… I still get pretty much all of my viewing from TV broadcasts though. Sorry, this probably isn’t the answer you were hoping for.”

This is about all I can get out of my father relevant to the topic. The rest of the conversation was either me explaining what the task was or him calling me a nerd. Bloody Dad.

I got what I needed though, specifically with his mention of using multiple screens at the same time. More than anything, this has been the greatest influence the networked home has had on modern home media consumption. Specifically in relation to the television, the networking of the home has allowed multiple screens to permeate the home. Individuals now have the ability to split their attention between multiple screens displaying completely different data streams. As much as my father would claim that his home isn’t, as long as their are devices receiving data from larger networks then his home is networked.

This leads us in turn to the notion outlined in this weeks TED talk. The idea that, through larger networks, even when we are seemingly alone, we are never disconnected from other individuals.

Tuckle explains, among a great deal, the concept of being alone surrounded by other people if we choose to devote attention to our screens. In the same speech, though, she explains the notion of constant connection through larger networks and the appeal these have. In her worlds, “We’re lonely… and so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

In that same talk though, Turkle outlines that through this constant interconnectedness, we as humans are seeking, and indeed achieving, perpetual company – albeit, as she claims, cyber and shallow.

If we are to take the things that we learn in class this week, when we start with my father he would at first appear to be alone in an un-networked house. Applying the principles of the week though, specifically those outlines by Turkle, we can gather that he is neither of those things. He, just as much as anyone, is patched in and, in the greatest effect of the networked home, he is not alone.

Oooo, that sounds like a horror move tag line. A really long, convoluted one, sure, but a spooky tagline none the less.

References

Turkle, S 2012, “Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?”, Video, February 2012, TED, viewed 17/8/16 http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together

Week 4: Working from Everywhere

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I couldn’t make the tute for this weeks topic. Fortunately, though, the miracle that is modern technology allowed me to make a limited contribution to the discussion and continue to learn about the weeks topics. I was able to take a task, in this case the tute, on the road with me. It actually worked out pretty well, especially considering I now have anecdote to start off my blog post.

University is the closest I have to an example of the ‘presence bleed‘. I haven’t had any significant employment beyond the physical (I’ve only ever worked in environments where my physical presence was necessary either to produce something or get yelled at by a chef), and so these few years of actively producing for university is all I have to go on. I’ve been able to contribute to discussion, produce and submit assignments from almost anywhere and with that has come the infamous ‘presence bleed’. Without any serious pressures from employers, though, it is difficult to identify any actually negatives this process has produced in me. I’m sure it’ll be a very different story in a couple of years (if some idiot actually ever hires me), but for the moment presence bleed has been nothing but a boon for my university productivity.

Week 3: The Cyber Punk Necessity

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To begin with let’s focus on the punk part of cyber punk; the part I would argue is far more vital. Punk, whichever facet or subculture, is based around a strong sense of non-conformism paired with an anti-establishment mentality. It’s a little more complicated than that, but we’ll leave it there for the sake of word counts

These attributes carry across to the cyber punk genre and subculture. Punk sentiments apply to the cyber world just as they do to the physical, with a mistrust or hatred of authority, conformity and the general masses expressed by those identifying with cyber-punk ideals. In literature this is epitomised by the ubiquitous, all powerful authority that has come to rule a particular setting. For example, the machines and the matrix itself in The Matrix, the various corporations in Deus Ex. Hell, even AUTO from WALL-E. Our cyber punk protagonists are the exceptions to the the rule of these authorities and their struggle lies in combating or surviving them.

In a world more and more dependent on  the internet the characteristics that dominate cyber punk are a healthy reminder to be aware of a serious threat, however unlikely it may be. I’m not suggesting that we need to break out of some simulation and rebel against our 64-bit overlords, don’t get me wrong. Rather I merely suggest that as the internet grows in power and reach it is worth remembering the fears of cyberpunk and to beware them.

Week 1: BCM240 Cribs

I thought I’d start of my exploration of the interaction between media, audience and place with a little examination of a very basic, very simple space. One I know pretty well and feel comfortable examining – home.

I consume a lot of different media. No, really, a lot. My home reflects that. The first thing you see moving into the living room is a television, lumped together with a router and a stack of DVD box sets. Countless kilobytes of data transmitted from all over the world, the product of hundreds of years of scientific advancement and communication engineering, enters my domain through an embarrassing mess of cables carelessly shoved behind a TV unit. There’s a laptop on the coffee table, wireless speakers connected to both it and the TV scattered about to make it easier to take viewing to the kitchen. I couldn’t imagine making dinner without half listening to ABCnews24. Hard drives of various sizes hang out of every port available, especially the tiny old school laptop patched into the TV.

Now, you might imagine that my living room media is chaotic, but let me assure you, it’s much, much worse than you could ever imagine. Following a blue Ethernet cable from the router leads you to my room and my desktop PC. I prefer cable over wireless for internet on my main PC. Fight me. A bed, a desk and a bookcase dominate one wall, all either pushed uncomfortably close together or straight up assembled on top of each other. Two huge monitors (I swear I’m not compensating for anything) sit abreast, HDMI cables connecting them both to my main meme machine. That’s where I’m typing this now, with 10 different tabs open in chrome. Once I’ve finished this, I’ll swing one of my monitor towards my bed and retire there to consume a balanced meal of news, memes and New Girl repeats. It’s worth mentioning that even though I might be able to see one or two different screens anywhere in my house, my phone is never out of reach.

The point I’m making is that if digital addiction were a medical condition my doctor would probably recommend euthanasia.

Now how does this relate to Media, Audience and Place? Well, strap on your hats because I’m going to get all philosophical up in this.

One of the key concepts we’ve had from this week is the implication that space is a dynamic, complex medium that effects and is effected by human interactions. As human geographer Doreen Massey puts it in this Social Science Bites podcast (2015),

“…space concerns our relations with each other and in fact social space, I would say, is a product of our relations with each other, our connections with each other. “

As Massey explores this concept more, the tangible space becomes an intangible medium of human interaction, an impossibly complex environments of chaotically influential factors all influencing each other in a myriad of detectable and undetectable ways.

With the integration of the internet and the media saturation of our everyday lives, the interaction between media, place and audience has exploded and influences a far greater domain then every before. So much is this affect that almost every sanctum, every private residence has become a space far more influenced by media and wider human interaction than every before.

Say, for example, the home of a nerd that like TV and computers a bit too much. What would once have been (though never truly isolated) a more remote a space, moderately disconnected from the torrent of human activity that is the ‘outside’, has become an effectively public media place. The ‘space’ that Massey describes has been networked, patched and sewn into our every day lives more than ever before.

My home, with its wires and screens epitomizes the evolution of personal space. Though I can still mediate the flow of information, say turning off TV or computer, what was once moderately protected from Masseys space has become a hub for it, a place for me to gorge myself on it.

Of course, with my thriving meme addiction, you’ll never hear me complain about that.

References

Warburton, N 2013, Doreen Massey on Space, Audio, February 1, 2013, Social Science Bites, viewed 3/08/2016

http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2013/02/podcastdoreen-massey-on-space/ 

 

 

Week 2: Cricket, Beer, Moon Landings and TV with Dad

“I’m pretty sure there was a pretty good swell off Narrabeen that day, but I caught the repeats later on and it looked alright.” 

I’d thought it would be a pretty good place to start the interview. It would make a nice dramatic, eye grabbing headline quote to find out where my Dad was the moment man walked on the moon, hundreds of millions of people world wide were huddled around TV sets waiting to see the grainy video feed and hear those famous words. Turns out my Dad, 17 at the time, was surfing.

“TV was never that amazing growing up, if I’m honest with you… When I was a kid and we were living at Eden and the signal was always pretty dodgy. You’d either get poor signal from Mexico City [commonly known as “Melbourne”] or worse signal from Wollongong. TV didn’t get that huge for me at least until I moved out, went up north… Then I guess it was alright. To be honest, I don’t have that great a memory of it.”

This is a pretty good introduction to my father. He loves the beach and, more than that, he likes to make my school assignments hard for me. It took a little bit more prying and a lengthy, expensive phone call to get anywhere good. Ever the loungechair athlete, he had a great deal to say about the emergence of World Series Cricket in the late 70’s.

“We were skeptical at first. I mean, I wasn’t a huge fan of the tests but I went to the odd match and this was completely different… Of course, once the one-dayers took off we were all drawn into the flair of it… everyone would fill into someones loungeroom for the long run. Eskys full of beer and cartons of cigarettes… we had some good times with that.”

Now we might have something. I mean, after a brief talk about how he should be a better role model, we had a discussion about the social scenes around these shindigs. He elaborated that after a few matches, the focus would be less on the actual cricket being played and more an excuse for a social scene. People would still keep an eye on the score, but “especially for those long bloody matches”, you would only notice the match when there was a wicket or a big hit. None the less, my father now swears that when he has had enough beers on a lazy Sunday afternoon he can hear Richie Benaud crackle in the distance.

If you aren’t familiar with the intricacies of Australian cricket mass commercialization via television 1960 – 1980, basically commercially interested agents within the Australian media created their own international cricket league to great commercial success. I don’t much care for the sport side but at the very least the media manipulation and the piles of money that were made make for a pretty interesting story and I recommend looking into it.

Moving back to the topic at hand. Sport has always been viewed communally, my father was simply in the right place at the right time to witness the rise of the heavily commercialized and televised sporting events. The specific period he is referring to, the rise of Kerry Packers World Series Cricket was more than this though, instead the rise of the televised sporting “spectacular” of the 1970s (Whannel, 1992 pp. 202). People would come together, if they aren’t able to get into a stadium, and attempt to simulate the atmosphere and fun of the live experience with their friends by gathering in small, enthusiastic and apparently drunken groups. As I’m sure you know, this proud tradition continues today.

At first I thought I’d made a mistake interviewing my father. As I mentioned earlier, he has a tendency to make things like this hard for me for the lolz. Well, jokes on you old man, you made it easier. Reflecting on my father responses has made me realise that above all the televisation of sport wasn’t simply the recording and transmitting of an event, but rather the process enabled people everywhere to attempt to extend the social scene and the atmosphere of a match. For the first time people were being broadcast at least a portion of the intangible space that we are focusing on in this class.

For helping me realise that I would like to thank my Dad.

References

Whannel, G 1992,  Fields in Vision: Television Sport and Cultural Transformation, Routledge, London, UK