“It’s that time again…”

It’s that time again, yes, time for another reflection. In my past reflection I talked mostly of my fear of failure, which I felt did transfer over to the assessment that the participants and I have just completed. In this final assessment for BCM240 – Media, Audience, and Place, I leaped back into the realm of TV, deciding to focus on television in space as stimuli for eliciting emotion and spatial memory. To view this project, please click here. Overall, I would say that this research project went well, as the final metamorphosis of the project emerged as a somewhat coherent whole.

However, I cannot say that the steps taken to reach this final metamorphosis have been smooth, as the path has been at times, laden with shards of glass. There were various elements that got in the way with this assessment, the first being my own stupidity. As we entered week 13, I realised that the assessment date was the 2nd of November and not the 6th, which ended up with me panicking because in my mind, I had just lost 5 days to work on this assessment. This resulted in me working under pressure, which I have often done before, but at least on those occasions I actually knew the correct due date.

Pressure can be hard to work with, as it can burden you with unnecessary mental distress which can be further influenced by time constraints, the difficulty of the task, insufficient knowledge, or unforeseen problems (Employability Skills: Working Under Pressure 2015). This project definitely burdened me with unnecessary pressure, which was due to my own fault because of my original perceived abundance of time. I would say that there were three main sources of pressure, the time issue pressure, the direction of the research project, and the research projects collaborative ethnographic element.

The direction of the research project bothered me initially from the outset, as I was interested in exploring two different areas. This indecision on my part caused me to suffer as I had not clearly defined the goals of my project, which in turn made the project suffer because I needed to take time out to define its trajectory. When the goals of a project are undefined, it can cause the people working on it and the project itself to suffer, something I ended up learning first-hand (University Alliance 2015).

The collaborative ethnographic element of this assessment, while I enjoyed it, proved to be a factor that I underestimated. Lassiter (2005) says that collaborative ethnography is an “…approach to ethnography that deliberately and explicitly emphasizes collaboration at every point in the ethnographic process, without veiling it—from project conceptualization, to fieldwork, and, especially, through the writing process.” The parts that I underestimated about this process fell into the areas of coordination and intellectual costs.

Coordination costs involve the time and energy that goes into group work that isn’t present in individual work, as the coordination cost can involve arranging meetings with the others involved and meeting up to complete work (What are the Challenges of Group Work and How Can I Address Them?). This is an area where I had trouble as I had to meet a participant to conduct an interview, which had to be taken a second time as I forgot to switch on the microphone.

The intellectual cost of this project involved the phenomenon known as transparency illusion, which involves a research member’s tendency to assume their thoughts, attitudes, and reasons are more obvious than they actually are (What are the Challenges of Group Work and How Can I Address Them?). This was a trap I fell headfirst into when conducting my interviews, as I needed to contact the participants afterwards to confirm some details that I found confusing.

Working within the framework of collaborative ethnography is something that I enjoy, but I feel that I have operated within this framework better in the past. I have no one to blame but myself as I believe it was the pressure that I put myself under which became my undoing. Although, keeping within the foundations of collaborative ethnography, I have included the participants of this research project in every process that has taken place, and they are happy with its outcome, as am I, to a degree. In the future, I think the important thing for me to remember is to get my dates right, so that I don’t create another slew of issues that will effectively derail my assessments from start to end.

References:

Ashley, D 2012, A Healthy Fear is Sometimes in Order and Even Wise…, Image, Flickr, viewed 02 November 2015, https://goo.gl/QYuOZL

Employability Skills: Working Under Pressure 2015, University of Leeds Careers Centre, viewed 02 November 2015, http://careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/info/4/make_yourself_employable/202/employability_skills/13

Lassiter, L.E. 2005, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago Press, viewed 02 November 2015, http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html

University Alliance 2015, Top 10 Project Management Challenges, Villanova University, viewed 02 November 2015, http://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/top-10-challenges/#.VjbT0S_oudA

What are the Challenges of Group Work and How Can I Address Them?, Carnegie Mellon University, viewed 02 November 2015, https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/instructionalstrategies/groupprojects/challenges.html

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Instead of 50 Shades of Grey, It was like a Technicolour Yawn

My dad, Tim Foster (53), remembers living in a small timber weather board house, built in the mid 60’s, in Shellharbour Village on Eastern Avenue. But he was not the only inhabitant of the family home. Along with himself, the house hosted his parents, an older brother, a younger sister, and a chook shed out the back, complete with annoying rooster that crowed in the wee hours of the morning.

Tim can always remember having a television that played in black and white, as it had fuzzy and often interrupted reception, which was also badly affected by weather conditions. The TV used to reside in the main living room settled on a little table or box – he can’t remember which – with a few of his mother’s ornaments adorning its top. To the TV’s right sat a standard lamp, to its left, an open fire with a brick hearth and huge copper domed hood. Garish white and gold trim wallpaper adorned the walls with imitation brick wallpaper on the wall behind the TV. Golden brown carpet, simple three light brass chandelier, brass wall lights with frosted glass shades, two arm chairs and a lounge that folded down into a bed, a much loved bean bag, a timber and glass wall unit stuffed with books and ornaments, a magazine rack, and the “obligatory three ducks on the wall, each flying diagonally off into the distance.” It is amazing how much Tim can remember about the space the television inhabited yet, he cannot remember when they got it.

He does, however, remember when they got a coloured television. Tim remembers his late father walking through the door one night with this Rank Arena colour television, so that he could watch the FA Cup as he was a big soccer fan. The initial reception wasn’t great so they needed a new antenna, but when they had that sorted out, they were the first ones in the street to have coloured television. The neighbours and their kids would frequent the house to admire this novelty, and watch cartoons in colour for the first time ever. “If you’ve ever watched cartoons in black and white, and then to see them in full colour, it’s chalk and cheese,” Tim said, “Instead of 50 shades of grey, it was like a technicolour yawn.”

Tim’s most vivid memory relating to television was seeing Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969, back when they had a black and white television. Tim and his siblings were allowed home early from school so they could witness the historic event. When asked if he believed what was going on he told me he did, because back then when you saw it on TV you took it as fact, it had to be true because you could see it with your own eyes. Other programs he used to run home after school to watch were ‘The Goodies,’ ‘The Ghost and Mrs Muir,’ and the ‘Mickey Mouse Club.’ Despite having a coloured television, the family would sometimes be disappointed when a show came on and it would be in black and white, my dad would have to smother a giggle while his mother cried, “we’ve paid all this flamin’ money for a coloured television and we’ve got to watch this show in black and white.”