Moldova Protests

Connectivity plays an important role in social media activism as it allows the masses to reach out to one another. Social media, a modern communication tool, allows connectivity amongst likeminded people and grants the ability to mobilise, coordinate, and disseminate in a fast manner.

In the past, connectivity was aided by local influence such as in the case of the Arab Spring with Asmaa Mahfouz’s video, calling all to take action. Similarly, it was two youth movements, Hyde Park and ThinkMoldova, who organised the 2009 “I am not a Communist” protest through networks such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, SMSs, and emails.

The result ended up with a large group of people, disputed to be between a few hundred and 15,000, turning up to protest in Chisinau’s central square, Piața Marii Adunări Naționale. Unexpectedly, the protest turned violent with people throwing stones at the parliament building which was also set on fire.

Current political protests in Moldova involve 6 years of political dissatisfaction coming to ahead with the loss of a 7th of the country’s GDP, bringing up to 100,000 people to the streets in outrage. Twitter is being used in this protest with the people converging at Piața Marii Adunări Naționale with #pman being brought back into use from the 2009 protests.

References:

Barry, E 2009, ‘Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter,’ New York Times, 7 April, viewed 27 September 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08moldova.html?_r=0

Brett, D, Knott, E, Popșoi, M 2015, The ‘Billion Dollar Protests’ in Moldova are Threatening the Survival of the Country’s Political Elite, LSE, viewed 27 September 2015, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2015/09/21/the-billion-dollar-protests-in-moldova-are-threatening-the-survival-of-the-countrys-political-elite/

Mitew, T 2014a, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt3gzJ9tB7w&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=31

Mitew, T 2014b, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 2], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwT-eFj8qgA&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=32

Mitew, T 2014c, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 3], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZH-OLNN2IY&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=33

Mitew, T 2014d, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 4], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8825RLzypM&index=34&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014e, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 5], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FbzHUhT6QQ&index=35&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chisinau_riot_2009-04-07_17.jpg

“The dinner table… is practically dead.”

The dinner table, an idealised space where families come together to enjoy each other’s company over a warm meal, to connect and converse, is practically dead. Bowles and Turnbull (2015) talk about the mother’s role in the home as the moderator of her children’s contact with technology and say that with the advent of portable technologies, it is becoming harder for her to track the whereabouts of her children. This is especially true if we take into consideration that when people are on their devices, they are not in fact present in the room, physically maybe, but mentally they are in the world of cyberspace.

Frendo (2013) talks about technology and says that with its becoming more mobile, it has infiltrated the dinner table, making it easy for parent and child alike to become distracted from the company of the other. She goes on to say that technology disrupts the moments of connection when we are together and that we should develop a balance and limit when we use technology (Frendo 2013). Frendo (2013) offers the solution of placing our respective technologies in a basket before sitting down for dinner. “Regular conversation, eye contact, and laughter strengthen our brain’s capacity for human connection – but those things can be difficult when distracted by the allure of technology (Fredo 2013).”

But what about those who eat dinner standing up? For Macdonald (2013), “the family dinner is an archaic ritual that’s almost dead and buried. In fact it exists almost entirely in fantasyland.” Macdonald (2013) says that when she insists her family sit together it rarely works as her son gags at the sight of vegetables while her daughter, regularly disappears beneath the table to feed the bottomless pit known as, the family dog. Macdonald (2013) believes that when the family dinner is set up because it is the proper thing to do it becomes artificial and a chore, in contrast, she believes that family dinners are respected more when they are occur during rituals, because they are the rare occasions where the family mutually comes together, such as for birthdays or Christmas.

Macdonald (2013) goes on to say that the best conversations you have with your children are at the times when they don’t feel it is an inquisition, such as when you are grilling them at the dinner table. For her, the modern family dinner involves watching the TV while eating, using this space as a site for developing ideas and insight, hosting discussions about the show and the various themes it employs (Macdonald 2013).

The family dinner at the dining table is an outdated institution that I believe a majority of families forgo for the now, arguably intimate, TV dinner. As a space, the dining table feels more appropriate for a formal setting rather than an everyday site for the engagement of family, which is where the informal and comfortable space known as the lounge room excels.

Resources:

Bowles, K, Turnbull, S 2015, BCM240 – Media, Audience, Place 8: Regulating Audiences, Echo360, viewed 26 September 2015, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/blocks/echo360_echocenter/echocenter_frame.php?id=6402

Frendo, M 2013, Plugged in or Tuned Out: Technology at the Dinner Table, Michigan State University Extension, viewed 26 September 2015, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/plugged_in_or_tuned_out_technology_at_the_dinner_table

Macdonald, S 2013, ‘The death of the family dinner,’ Daily Life, 4 June, viewed 26 September 2015, http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-death-of-the-family-dinner-20130603-2nlrx.html

Working Memory and Attention

Today in a world where information is everywhere, the human notion of attention is stuck in a state of shift. According to statistics from Statistic Brain, sourced from Weinreich et al.’s “Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use,” 12 seconds was the normal attention span back in 2000 (Attention Span Statistics 2015). It is now 2015, and the average attention span is 8.25 seconds, shorter than that of a goldfish whose attention span clocks in at 9 seconds (Attention Span Statistics 2015).

Research into attention is primarily based in cognitive psychology studies, and the type of attention that we will look at here is also based in this arena. An important concept to examine is that of working memory, a concept first developed by Baddeley and Hitch. This concept says that the brain has a central executive which acts as the boss of the system, allocating information to two different subsystems (McLeod 2008). Along with allocating information, the central executive also deals with cognitive tasks such as mental arithmetic and problem solving (McLeod 2008).

One subsystem which the central executive allocates information to is the visuo-spatial sketchpad (VSS), which stores and processes information in a visual or spatial form, this system is also used for navigation (McLeod 2008). The other system that has information allocated to it is the phonological loop (PL) which stores information that is spoken and written (McLeod 2008). The PL consists of two parts which include (McLeod 2008):

• Phonological Store: which deals with speech perception and stores information that is speech based.
• Articulatory Control Process: which deals with speech production, also used to rehearse and store verbal information from the phonological store.

Barrouillet et al. (2013) look at working memory and, in deference to Baddeley and Hitch, say that it is a limited-capacity system which shares the resources it uses to process and store information. This is where we should be paying attention, because our attention span dictates the effectiveness of working memory. Because working memory shares the resources it uses to process and store information, a trade-off phenomenon occurs where our performance decreases because our cognitive load increases, effectively reducing the amount of information being processed which is then lost (Barrouillet et al. 2013).

This resource sharing takes place when our cognitive load increases, which can result from the exercise of multitasking. Hembrooke and Gay (2003) look at multitasking and time, and find that multitasking does impact the allocation of resources to take in and process information. However, these processes are more strongly affected by time as their study showed that sustained distraction, e.g. browsing online irrespective of content, was the enemy of multitasking (Hembrooke & Gay 2003).

Although, Hembrooke and Gay (2003) don’t rule out the use of multitasking, but believe that, “if one is adroit at staccato-like browsing, processing multiple inputs simultaneously may not suffer to the same extent,” effectively saying that short and sharp periods of selective attention may not hinder your working memories ability to take in and process information.

To gauge whether the rapid switching of attention helps working memory retain more information, I asked my dad and mum, Tim and Julianne Foster, to help me with a little experiment. Our experiment took place during a three minute ad break which involved Tim and I counting how many ads there were between the program we were watching, whilst reading this article about Malcolm Turnbull’s new ministry and trying to remember five of the listed names and the positions they held, while texting each other at the same time. Julianne’s role in the experiment was to count how many ads occurred in the ad break for accuracy and to quiz us at the end about the names and positions of people in Turnbull’s ministry.

The results of this little experiment were interesting as they, to a degree, validate Hembrooke and Gay’s idea that the rapid switching of attention should decrease the cognitive load on working memory. In regards to the counting of ad breaks, Tim was closest to the mark with his answer of five while my answer was eight, only two over the ad total of six. In terms of remembering names and positions, Tim was able to correctly remember two while I was able to remember three.

I think Hembrooke and Gay’s idea has some merit but that it should allow for some degree of inaccuracy, as Tim and I were not able to fully take in and process the information in front of us. All in all, I would say that Barrouillet et al (2013) have it right when they say that the slightest distraction of attention can impact the processing of information stored in working memory. If this is the case, than it is more important than ever that we learn to focus our attention to get the most out of our interactions with information.

Resources:
Hembrooke, H, Gay, G 2003, The Laptop and the Lecture: The Effects of Multitasking in Learning Environments, Journal of Computing in Higher Education, Vol. 15, pp. 01-19.

Barrouillet, P, Bernardin, S, Portrat S, Vergauwe, E, Camos, V 2013, Time and Cognitive Load in Working Memory, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 01-56.

McLeod, S 2008, Working Memory, Simply Psychology, viewed 21 September 2015, http://www.simplypsychology.org/working%20memory.html

Image: Brain Power by Alan Ajifo

Are you gonna curate that?

With the advent of the internet and the explosion of content, legacy media models have begun to flounder in the new information age. Where news used to be in the hands of the gatekeeper, it is now in the hands of the masses, the prosumers, also known as gatewatchers. What becomes valuable in this period is the endless cycle of massified information production, aggregation, and curation.

This cycle is characterised by Bruns when he talks about gatewatching, which he says is “conducted on a far more ad hoc, decentralised and crowdsourced basis than has been possible for gatekeeper journalism.” Like the permanent beta, this cycle is continuous and unfinished. This cycle lends itself to what Bruns describes as ‘deliberative journalism,’ where conversation is the vehicle for production, aggregation, and curation.

Take Twitter, for example, where meaningless individual tweets join together to create the resonant effect of a story unfolding as they are aggregated with hashtags and curated by comment and analysis. Johnson sums up this unfolding of a story by describing it as “a suspension bridge made of pebbles.” In a world where information is abundant, coherence is key. We gain this coherence through the valuable, and often scarce, services of aggregation and curation, which gives information value, because it suddenly transforms from being confusing to clear.

References:
Bruns, A 2009, News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions For e-journalism, EJournalism: New Directions in Electronic News Media, New Delhi, BR Publishing, pp. 01-20.

Johnson, S 2009, How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live, TIME, viewed 19 September 2015, http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1902604,00.html

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 1], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1wlVOQA8y8&index=28&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 2], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YugX5gZxNRc&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=29

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 3], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgsf8cVKWo8&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=30

Israelson, N 2009, Bulgaria Pollution River, image, Flickr, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxgp2/5143061821

Note: I have modified Israelson’s image.

Should we join the clergy? Or run free in the market?

Software development for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software’s can be compared to two models discussed by Eric Raymond, the cathedral and the bazaar.

Apple’s iOS software is comparable to the cathedral model, because of Apple’s policy of only allowing Apple staff to work on Apple products. Raymond (2001) summarises the cathedral model when he says “software… needed to be built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation, with no beta to be released before its time (pg. 2).” This summary is very true of Apple’s development strategy as they adhere to this characteristic of the cathedral model, only releasing the iOS update when all identifiable bugs have been resolved, even if this means releasing once a year.

Google’s Android software on the other hand is a perfect example of Raymond’s (2001) bazaar as it is developed in open communities where releasing software early and often – whether it be newer versions of Android operating systems, updates, or apps – is balanced out by the idea that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow (pg. 9).” Android operating systems or apps being developed in the bazaar have the luxury of releasing early and often because there are many people working on them. These projects can have hundreds of people developing them, and the advantage gained by having this number of people working on a project is that bugs and problems are quickly identified and resolved, allowing for quick updates and patches (Raymond 2001, pg. 9).

The cathedral and the bazaar are both models for developing software that work effectively, with parts of each that users both like and dislike. In terms of the operating systems themselves, Apple’s iOS offers security because it’s software has been developed in the isolation of the cathedral to it’s thought to be ultimate form. In the other camp, Google’s Android offers a customisable platform where users have the freedom to choose and replace software that has been created and co-developed from the bazaar, where products are stuck in permanent beta, always improving.

At the end of the day, there is a choice to be made, a choice between comfort and freedom. Would you rather have the comfort of a device that supports closed software? Or the freedom of choice afforded by a device that is open to any software?

Resources:

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93_KfPDwpu4&index=24&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 2], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBQDsZG8nVk&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=25

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 3], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNvC-AEAxdY&index=26&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 4], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gtNXm_gDOY&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=27

Raymond, E.S. 2001, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, pp. 01-40.

Public Space Ethnography and Photography

Hello to who may be reading, you will find that this blog post has a little something to do with public space photography and ethnography. This week, we were asked to enter a public space and to acquire images, sound, or any other observations of public space media use in a way that was ethically comfortable for us. After we had collected these observations, we would then reflect on what we did in relation to the ethics of permission, discretion, and care for others.

In terms of street photography ethics, Colberg (2013) says that while photographers may legally take photos of people in public spaces without permission or consent, they need to become aware of the ethics involved in this practice. Colberg (2013) believes that it is important that we seek the permission and consent of those we photograph, while it may be legal to do so without consent, this does not mean that it is the ethical thing to do. Another thing that Colberg (2013) also believes is that it is the photographic community’s task to educate people on what they are doing.

Keeping my thoughts centred on how Colberg believes photographers should act, I took to the streets of Kiama in search of a photo op. I approached various people and explained to them that I was a university student in search of a willing participant to have their photograph taken of them using a media device. In the end I was only able to obtain one photo of Rhiannon Wilson.
I explained to Rhiannon that I would be using this photo on a public blog and gave her the options of not having her face or name appear. She was very accommodating and didn’t mind if her face or name appeared in this blog. As proof, I made an audio recording of Rhiannon consenting to my taking her photo and displaying her face.

In hindsight, I realise that I did not ask her in my recording if she consented to having her photograph published on my blog, even though she had expressed earlier that she had no qualms with my doing so. Rhiannon wanted to see the blog once it was finished so I gave her my blog’s address and my phone number should she need to contact me about her photo or if she has any concerns with the blog.

This little experiment I felt was really effective for public space ethnography. I think Rhiannon appreciated the fact that I had explained to her what I would do with her photo and the options I gave her about being included in this blog. The only negative thing I would say about public space ethnography in the situation of the photographer is that when you ask someone’s permission to take their photo, it immediately becomes staged, it completely destroys photo authenticity, which isn’t a good thing when it comes to research.

References:
Colberg, J 2013, The Ethics of Street Photography, Conscientious Extended, viewed 13 September 2015, http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/the_ethics_of_street_photography/