THE UNDECIDED HUNGER – Digital Artefact

@undecided_hunger – LINK TO INSTAGRAM PAGE

“Take-away food reviews and suggestions to satisfy those indecisive cravings”

 

Project Summary

My Digital Artefact was a food review page, promoting and reviewing local take-away food options within the Wollongong Area. Using Instagram as the platform, the purpose of the page was to raise awareness of ‘good value’ meals in Wollongong, with the short posts providing awareness of the meal as well as the casual evaluation of different factors which myself and others who helped/were a part of the production process considered to make these meal options good value. Factors which were considered included: the taste, pricing and sizing of meals. For each restaurant/venue, the opening hours, location and price of meals was also mentioned in the posts, encouraging people who interacted to try the food for themselves.

Choice of food featured in the videos was informed by, but not reliant on feedback/recommendations of other people. Collect take-away food, film reaction while eating and make comments. Footage will then be edited together and uploaded to @undecided_hunger. Easy and simple process to do. Build more awareness for my page by using hashtags and also promoting on Twitter. Posts were strictly take-away food, in order to narrow down on a niche within food and make the project relevant to a more specified audience.

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The intended audience is people like myself, uni students, a typically younger audience who don’t want to spend a lot on a meal. It is a way for people to find new places to eat through an easily accessible public platform, with accompanying review and details about the food and venue to inform their decision. By using Instagram, the posts are easily accessible to a wide audience, with anybody having the ability to follow the page. Through using hashtags as well I was able to gain additional audience interaction in the form of likes and followers, further raising awareness of the digital artefact. Another advantage of Instagram is the ease to produce videos and the layout of the platform being perfect for the type of project I intended to make. Initially, the videos were a more formal, panel setting, however I found them too awkward both to watch and make, and ended up restarting the Instagram page.

 Learning Moments

Food porn is a glamourized visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, blogs cooking shows or other visual media. Initial inspiration for my idea came from my desire to challenge this, making a ‘realistic food porn’ aesthetic. Focus more on the taste, and value of food more than how it looks. Examples of food porn on Instagram:

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My project saterises such pages and posts about food on social media and although originally conceived as a parody of ‘professional’ food review channels, the intention was still to take it relatively seriously, just really low quality. It wasn’t until after my Souva King post when someone who watched it told me “that was the funniest one yet” that it made me rethink the tone of the videos, make them more improvised and less serious. Feedback was significant factor for me,

The process of building followers on Instagram was one I found I difficult initially, however after collaboration with one of the other BCM students, Alex Mastronardi, I learnt that an effective method is to follow many similar pages to my project, and generally increase my interaction with other pages on Instagram. This proved to be a success and, coupled with the sharing of my page on Twitter (#bcm206 #bcmda) and also, use of relevant hashtags and also  promotion on my personal, the page went from around 20 followers to 100 in less than a week and a half. Use of Reddit was limited in terms of awareness, however I did find it use through the r/Wollongong subreddit to get ideas for takeaway places around the city.

In terms of gaining random likes on posts, hashtags were the most effective technique. For example, on the Chicko’s post I used the #schnitzel, and within the next few minutes likes came through from a few German Instragram accounts – people who only would have seen the page due to the tag. Various accounts/businesses based in Wollongong would also regularly like posts when #wollongongong was used in the post.

After going through the process of making this Digital Artefact, the biggest concluding factor is the limitations of time and availability on production of the videos. Coordination had to be achieved between opening hours of the restaurant, meal deals, my availability, friends in videos availability. If I were to do this project again, I might not choose something that had such restrictions of time.

 

 

 

 

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Autoethnography 3: Japan, Family and Society

What are the values held within Japanese society? I am not talking in terms of cultural beliefs and religion, rather in the relationships between people and how they approach their lives. Are the attitudes and norms we have in the western world the same in a different context or would they be irrelevant within a Japanese setting? I undertook an ethnographic study into this notion, comparing my own personal life with a representation of Japanese life manufactured and portrayed through two films by prominent and renowned Japanese filmmakers, Tokyo Story (1953) and Ikiru (1952), each of which presented different aspects of society in Japan at a certain point in time.

Tokyo Story poster.jpg  Ikiru poster.jpg

The viewing of these films was a way for myself to experience an informed perspective of life in Japanese society relative to my own personal life and experiences in 21st Century Australia. As a method of analysing this perspective and understand what his means in terms of cultural experience, discussion was facilitated with my parents in the form of a podcast. This was able to add 2 layers to my research. Firstly, it gave an intergenerational and perspective to our shared experiences as we all grew up in different contexts; and secondly, further reinforces the connection of the research to my personal experience with my parents being a significant part of my daily life up to this point. “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.” (Ellis et al., 2011)

Although the films were made in the 1950’s, filmed on old black and white camera’s and spoken completely in Japanese, it was found that they both portrayed stories which remain applicable to understanding my own cultural context. Tokyo Story, directed by Yasujirō Ozu, presents the struggle of family relationships and the maintaining of these during different stages of life. Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, which literally translates to “to live”, also alludes to this theme through its narrative, although is more focused on the meaning and enjoyment of life, as well as the struggle of Japanese bureaucracy. Through this insight given into this representation of Japanese society, it was evident that these themes are still just as relevant when taken out of the context of the films. Their importance and impact on daily life may be can be directly transferred to the relationships in not only my life and upbringing, but also the experiences my parents had from their upbringing up to this stage in their lives. From this perspective, it was interesting to see such common aspects of my own context portrayed in a completely different setting, with traditional Japanese housing, rituals, daily activities etc. being at the forefront of what was happening on screen.

“Reflexivity, an essential element, requires for the researcher to take the time to be still, to listen to the internal dialogue and to probe for reactions that are stirred by experience with the data” (Pitard, 2017).

Through the process of autoethnographic research, I was able to experience Japanese a representation of Japanese society relative to my own positioning as the researcher. Using the podcast as a space for free flowing discussion, my parents and I were able to share and compare our perception of the subject matter, informing our analysis of the themes presented and their relevance in understanding out own cultural context. Myself, Mum and Dad were able to be participant observers, interacting with the reality manufactured by both Kurosawa and Ozu to become more knowledgeable of Japanese society in the 1950’s, and the inherit similarities between different societies and the basic relationships/interactions/attitudes we have as part of daily life – regardless of cultural background or context.

THE PODCASTS CAN BE LISTENED TO BY FOLLOWING THE LINKS BELOW

Japanese Society in Film – Part 1: Tokyo Story

Japanese Society in Film – Part 2: Ikiru

Japanese Society in Film – Part 3: Understanding and Experience

References

Alsop, C. (2002). Home and Away: Self-Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography
Available at: http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf

Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10,

Pitard, J. (2018). A Journey to the Centre of Self: Positioning the Researcher in Autoethnography. [online] Qualitative-research.net.
Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/2764/4131

Time Out Tokyo. (2018). Learn about Japan through film. [online]
Available at: https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/film/learn-about-japan-through-film

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Things of the Internet

“By means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve… the round globe is a vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence!” 

– Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1851

The quote above is one that I used in my first blog for this subject, as we began to learn about the evolution of communication and were first introduced to the idea of a ‘global nervous system’ and the different types of networks within that. I am glad that in this last topic, the internet of things, this same quote is still just as relevant. They are both very similar topics, and is a good way to sum up a semesters worth of content. The continuing establishment of mobile internet connectivity is the next stet in the evolution of communication, and a process which has been seen to be going on for a while now.

This evolution begs the question, does everything really need to connect to the internet?

It started out with mobile phones, which to me makes sense, but that might also just be because I have been used to it for so long. Now it is almost an expectation however that every new technology must have some form of online connectivity. Cars that can search Google, Apple watches and WiFi connections in nearly every place you go .- isn’t it all getting a bit too much? I feel like it is. There has to be a point when the homogenisation of time and space has to come to a limit, we are still allowed to experience life without the internet. We should be able to survive… wont we?

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Dark Fiber, Cyberwarfare and Memes

“The meme is the embryo of the narrative. Therefore, controlling the meme renders control of the ideas; control the ideas and you control the belief system; control the belief system and you control the narrative; control the narrative and you control the population without firing a single bullet” (Scott,2018)

Through the ease to access, create and share memes, they have the the ability to spread  elements of culture and attitudes to a large audience with little censorship and the power to influence pockets of the population. The internet is a river of copies. Memes are now taking on a new role: cyberwarfare. Although traditionally assosciated mostly to do with activities like hacking, surveillance and hardware attacks, with how central memes have become to daily online activities, memes have now become an integral part of cyberwar as a result. “Memes function like the IED’s on information warfare”.  Through the spreading of memes on social media, propaganda can be spread to millions of people, and a number of political groups and institutions are now recognising this, and using it to their advantage.2kiykx

Kanye West has been widely recognised as a meme for a while now. Nearly every time he does or says something, it becomes a meme instantly and is all over my Facebook feed, and I have followed a lot of random and obscure meme pages. Now Kanye is back up on the meme stage again with his support for Donald Trump, who’s 2016 election campaign has been considered to have been largely attributed to the use of memes to spread his political ideas – as a form of warfare- and soft propaganda. Is it a coincidence? I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

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Hacktivist: Friend or Foe?

Hacktivists (the marriage of hacking and activism) aim to bring about social change through the use of technology. But are they truly doing good or merely performing cyberterrorism? When talking about digital resistance, the ethical debate surrounding actions of hacktivist groups or individuals seen to be whistleblowers is always an interesting and contentious topic. Consider somebody like Julian Assange. From his perspective, the work of WikiLeaks and other such organisations is done in the name of freedom of information – keeping the public informed vs state power and government censorship – and should be viewed not as cybercrime but as a service to the people.

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“If it is true information we don’t care where it comes from. Let people fight with the truth, and when the bodies are cleared there will be bullets of truth everywhere, thats fine”. – Julian Assange.

 

The power and threat perceived threat of WikiLeaks and other hacktivists, ‘whistleblowers’ or similar organisations is a result of distributed control, with the network flow of information, a distributed network, allowing individual nodes to broadcast to an entire network. Through this flow of information, they have the potential to do damage to the perception of truth created by the state or an institution, and can expose any misinformation or perceived censorship of information which is done in the best interests if the people. “Defining the human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution” (Khatchadourin, 2010),

 

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#revolution

Social networks have the potential to empower groups of people, influence attitudes and move people to action through its capabilities of connectivity and mass accessibility. Through sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, the global population is more connected now than ever before, able to communicate a limitless stream of content and opinions to fellow likeminded people. As a result of this, the ways that movements can be promoted, or protests, peaceful or not, can be organised and participated in has been revolutionised.

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An example of one such recent campaign is the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The movement started in America, campaigning against violence and racism towards black people, and is now known globally, with a large factor in this being social media. Through the spreading of memes and using the associated hashtag, Facebook and Twitter have both been cited as major platforms for raising awareness and support for the campaign and as of September 2016, the phrase ‘black lives matter’ had been Tweeted over 30million times. The impact of social media also helped to coordinate different aspects of the BLM movement, enabling people to take action through protest rallies and other events.

References

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/12/black-lives-matter-movement-and-social-media-after-five-years/778779002/

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Autoethnography 2: The Japanese Experience

Carrying on from my last post, my autoethnographic research will draw on my experience, or lack thereof, of Japanese culture, and my desire to gain a greater insight into day-to-day Japanese life.

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.” (Ellis et al., 2011)

Outside of actually travelling to Japan, I feel the best way to do this is by viewing Japanese media such as film and TV, in order to experience the manufactured perspective of their culture represented through their own productions. I will become a participant observer, interacting with a perception of everyday Japanese life, customs and rituals, which has been presented through the chosen media. My observations can then be compared to both my own context, having grown up in Australian society with Western values, and also the portrayal of Japan in Western media and other sources. By doing this, I will be able to challenge any assumptions I already have about Japanese life, and test the validity of perceptions which have originated from outside the country.

Related image

The man pictured above is Akira Kurosawa. A legendary Japanese film director, Kurosawa is regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in history and had a career spanning nearly 60 years. For those who may not be familiar, he was responsible for many samurai epics such as Rashomon, Seven Samuari and Ran, which depict life a pre-modern Japanese era and have left a legacy as some of the greatest films ever produced due to both his style of filmmaking and their significance as opening up the international market to the Japanese film industry. He is lesser known for his contemporary dramas, such as Ikiru, which is set in a 20th century context and focuses on Japanese society, family life and bureaucracy, reflecting the values of the time in which it was made. It is content such as this which I will interact with as the core of my autoethnographic methodology; content which presents an ‘accurate’ portrayal of Japanese culture.

Kurosawa’s works will not be the only Japanese media I will use to undertake my research, rather just a starting point for study due to the prestige associated with his filmmaking and my pre-existing familiarity with his films (namely Seven Samurai). For my autoethnography to be authentic, I will need to experience a wider range of portrayals of Japanese life, through film and TV content from various directors/producers, while also interacting with non-Japanese media to compare different perceptions of Japanese day-to-day life, their habits and customs. It will also be beneficial to my study to view content which depicts 21st century Japan, to see how these portrayals may have changed over time, and also make make them more relevant to my own contextual experience. In finding other media to use in my research I have used reddit, on which I was able to find a thread with a list of works seen to best depict the Japanese habits and customs, based on the recommendations and experiences of other people. Of this list, on which Kurosawa is featured, further internet research has led me to narrow down the sample of films and TV which I will observe in the hope to greater understand Japanese cultural identity.

“When researchers do ethnography, they study a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders (cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better understand the culture” (Ellis et al., 2011)

When doing an autoethnography, there are concerns of reliability, generalisability and validity which go hand in hand with the undertaking of any research and analysis of personal experience. Is the field site a valid source? How do we know this? What makes the experience credible? In terms of my research, my experience of Japanese culture will be directly informed by its representation through Japanese-made film, TV and related sources to gain an insight into daily Japanese life. Other representations can be used as reference points and will be helpful when comparing non-Japanese assumptions about the culture, however drawing any concrete conclusions from non-Japanese originated portrayals feels inaccurate as it is not coming from an cultural members (insiders). Being myself a cultural stranger (outsider) to the culture, it would be redundant to base my perception on the experience of other outsiders, and could lead to potential issues of validity when drawing conclusions from the findings of my autoethnography.

Through conducting my autoethnography on the portrayal of Japan in , I intend to understand the day-to-day habits and values of a culture which I have always had such an interest in yet never experienced for myself, in order to deepen my understanding of Japanese culture and give me some indication of what to expect when I eventually have the opportunity to visit the country and experience their lifestyle for myself.

 

References

Denzin, N. (2003). Performing [Auto] Ethnography Politically. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 25(3), pp.257-278.

Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10,

Hays, J. (2018). EVERYDAY LIFE IN JAPAN | Facts and Details. [online] Factsanddetails.com.
Available at: http://factsanddetails.com/japan/cat19/sub122/item647.html

Huffman, J., Sabbath, B., Huffman, J., Huffman, J., Bloom, D., Tuft, A. and Klein-Hass, M. (2018). Japan’s 70-year struggle against Hollywood film stereotypes. [online] Japan Today. Available at: https://japantoday.com/category/features/kuchikomi/japans-70-year-struggle-against-hollywood-films-stereotypes

Newsactivist.com. (2018). Japan in Western cinema | NewsActivist. [online]
Available at: http://newsactivist.com/en/articles/media-ethics-section-03003-fall-2015/japan-western-cinema

Pitard, J. (2018). A Journey to the Centre of Self: Positioning the Researcher in Autoethnography. [online] Qualitative-research.net.
Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/2764/4131

reddit. (2018). Akira Kurosawa’s Cinema: A Film Festival at Home • r/movies. [online] Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/9be6rl/akira_kurosawas_cinema_a_film_festival_at_home/

reddit. (2018). r/japan – Which movies depict best the Japanese habits & customs?. [online] Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/japan/comments/36e7iw/which_movies_depict_best_the_japanese_habits/

Time Out Tokyo. (2018). Learn about Japan through film. [online]
Available at: https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/film/learn-about-japan-through-film

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