My overall approach to blogging has been to take significant, and often taboo topics, and make an engaging and relatable post out of them. I have always aimed to write distinguishably, allowing my own personality to shine through my content, using humour and often sarcasm to engage my readers. Upon starting my blog last year, I tended to use sarcasm in excess, which caused my blog to seem unprofessional and tacky. I have noticed after reading over my blog for this reflection, even my first post for this subject, ‘On The Road Again’, contains too much irrelevant comical content that does not add to the quality of the post. Throughout the session, I have attempted to use humour without abusing it, and after reading through the remainder of my BCM240 posts, I think I have improved.
My main aim was to demonstrate my own personality through my writing. I have always wanted my blogs to be easy to read, funny, relatable and thought provoking. A number of face-to-face comments, along with comments on my blog (see ‘Phones: A Threat to Your Friends’ and ‘On The Road Again’) have enforced that I have succeeded in doing all these things.
In terms of visual design, I aimed to make the appearance of my blog simple and strong. I had originally created my own header graphic last year, which was dark and rigid, and did not compliment the relaxed, reflective nature I intended for my posts. I chose to redesign it a few months ago after evaluating and altering the overall layout of my blog, to better suit the content of my blog.
Old Header Graphic
Redesigned Header Graphic
I value consistency and have always hoped to portray a blog that is not only consistent in writing style and regularity, but also consistent in displaying the same characteristics across both the written elements, and the visual design elements. Choosing the WordPress theme, incorporating my Twitter feed, and ensuring that my blog is easy to navigate and read have also been of importance when trying to ensure each part of my blog reflects a consistent personality.
I have been very deliberate with the colours I have chosen, opting for a light blue tone as the background colour and Twitter link colour, with grey and white used on the other areas of the blog. I wanted the colour theme to be simple, and only use a subtle colour that would suggest a relaxed personality, with the grey reflecting boldness.
Use of Resources
My first two blog posts for this subject lacked any resources at all, and I was yet to realise the importance of linking to secondary sources in those early stages. I initially found it difficult to incorporate secondary sources into blog posts that very deeply engaged with my personal life, and observations. I have since utilised a number of resources in the remainder of my blog posts.
I have tried to engage in a number of sources for each post, and have tried to collect information from a variety of sites. I have also used a diverse range of media, using images in my posts ‘On The Road Again’ and ‘A Procrastinator’s Kryptonite’, video in my posts ‘Phones: A Threat to Your Friends’ and ‘Down With a Case of FOMO?’, and a range of newspaper articles, blogs and journal articles to support my findings in the remainder of my blogs.
While not all of my resources are academic, I believe they are relevant, informative and diverse. I have tried to incorporate academic sources in as many blogs as possible, as can be seen in ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly on Multitasking’ with a link to http://www.mindtools.com and in ‘Phones: A Threat to Your Friends’ with a link to http://spr.sagepub.com.
Engagement with Others
Engaging with others has been the downfall of my blog, and I have realised upon reflection that I rarely commented or utilized Twitter. I regularly Tweeted in regards to my blog posts for another subject, however neglected to do so for this one. I think it would’ve greatly increased engagement with new and existing readers, and could’ve grown my list of followers.
I began to comment on other student’s posts at the beginning of the session, but failed to do so on a regular basis. I regret not doing so, as I have seen the positive impact commenting and creating discussions online can have on connecting with others in other subjects. Commenting also opens up a dialogue with others that can enable both parties to further understand the topic being discussed.
Attracting a Readership
In order to attract a readership I have followed other people’s blogs in hope they might follow mine in return. I also tweeted out a link to my blog at the beginning of session. In hindsight, this was not a sufficient effort to build a strong and dedicated readership, and I should’ve invested more time into gaining followers.
On the 9 September, a friend of mine read my blog weekly, decided to share it via his Facebook page. The results are shown below:
On the 9 September there was a dramatic increase of viewers, as many had been led to my blog through my friend’s Facebook post. This proves the effectiveness of sharing a blog on social media, and I regret not sharing and linking to my blog on Facebook and Twitter more than once.
The main means of attracting a readership was simply through word of mouth. I only did so around week 5, and although this did create a consistent line of readers out of my parents and a number of friends, telling people about my blog and sharing the URL with them earlier on would’ve grown my readership progressively.
In saying this, I have been able to attract a global readership through tagging each of my posts with key words. This enables people who search for that word on a search engine to potentially find my blog. I feel that I have somewhat succeeded in gaining a readership as people in 13 different countries have accessed my blogs, with views from Thailand, Russia, Malaysia and the United States in the past three months.
In 2013, Australian feature films earned only 3.5% of the total Australian Box Office. This is a decreasing rate, with it being 4.3% the previous year. Australian films have a negative stigma attached to them, with most being labelled as ‘depressing dramas’. However, more often than not, Australians are not aware of half of the Australian productions that get released, nor do they realise they are Australian productions. Films such as The Great Gatsby and The Lego Movie fall into this category, each of which found great success in national and international markets. The Great Gatsby earned 26 million in the Australian Box Office, and the Lego Movie has grossed over $464 million worldwide.
It seems that in order for Australian movies to truly succeed on a global scale, they need to be somewhat disguised. Not many people, Australians in particular, want to hear an ocker Aussie accent dressed in a blue singlet and rubber thongs with a can of VB in hand. If the Australian film industry wants to flourish, it needs to challenge itself to compete on a global scale, keeping in mind what the audience want to see, not what they expect to see.
Bearing in mind, Australia only produced 27 feature films last year, in comparison to the 638 that China produced, the 239 that the United Kingdom produced, and the 622 that the United States produced. Of course the US have had more success on the film frontier, given that they’ve made 23 times more than Australia (along with their far more exuberant budgets).
To tackle this problem Australia not only need to create more films, they need to create films specific to the wants of the audience.
The simplest form of qualitative research to shed light on these issues would be conducting a number of surveys and focus groups, that would provide in-depth opinions of audience members about Australian films.
Participating individuals would be shown a list of approximately 30 Australian films with accompanying movie trailers, however they will not be informed that all are in fact Australian productions. The list would include films that have strict Australian connotations, such as Australia and Crocodile Dundee, and those that do not, such as the mentioned Lego Movie and The Great Gatsby. Keeping in mind that Australian films typically have a bad reputation, Participants would be asked to write down what movies they think are Australian and why, and write down why they think the remaining are not. Secondly, they would be asked to identify what films they watched at the Cinema upon release and why, what films they watched in a different context and why, and what films they have not watched, and why. They would then be asked to discuss the inherent characteristics that they associate with Australian films. It would be expected that these characteristics would be either negative, or neutral, with anticipated answers of ‘dramatic’, ‘tacky’ and ‘over-Australian’.
This kind of qualitative study, although quite simple in nature, would offer valuable insight into why people view the films they do, and would help equate whether the knowledge of it being an Australian film would affect their consumer behaviour.
- Australian Content Releases 2014, Screen Australia, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/releasesintro.aspx>
- Box Office Mojo 2013, Australian Yearly Box Office, Box Office Mojo, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/intl/australia/yearly/?yr=2013&p=.htm>
- FilmL.A Research 2013, Feature Film Production Report, Hollywood Reporter, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/>
- Low, C 2012, Delving into Decline of Australian Films, Canberra Times, 24 January, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/delving-into-decline-of-australian-films-20120124-1t6jf.html>
- Pro Box Office 2014, The Lego Movie, Pro Box Office, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://pro.boxoffice.com/statistics/movies/lego-2014>
The endless debate on multitasking is futile, no concise conclusion will ever be made that will satisfy those saying it promotes productivity, and those who believe it is making us dumb. I’m here to shed some light on all sides of the debate.
Chinese researchers have found that multitasking, 21st Century style, is good for the brain. Through a series of experiments, Scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have found that ‘media multitasking’ can positively affect ‘cognitive abilities and multi-sensory integration’, as they enable us to combat the unexpected more readily, and help us distinguish different things amongst clutter.
On the flip side, Forbes magazine published an article declaring that multitasking makes a person stupid more than marijuana, or a night of no sleep. ‘The Energy Project Audit found that 69% of workers have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time and are easily distracted during the day, especially by email’ (Loder, 2014). James Manktelow, founder of Mind Tools, also supports the notion that multitasking is negative, and the ‘biggest problem with it is that it can lower the quality of our work’ (Mind Tools, 2012).
Almost in support of this, researcher, Meyer, has found that although switching between two tasks can take less than a second, productivity can reduce by 40% (Cherry, 2010). Psychologist, Kendra Cherry acknowledges that although a fraction of a second mightn’t make a difference while folding laundry and watching television, it can be critical when driving and talking on the phone. Cherry concludes that multitasking can be a great risk, but ‘of course, the situation plays an important role’ (Cherry, 2010).
Another particular study by Rubinstein, Meyer and Evans, found that task-switching can waste 20-40% of our time, depending on what we’re doing.
I’m trying to point out a trend, an ugly trend. While there are many writers and researchers who sit on either side of the fence, arguing that multitasking is either inherently bad, or inherently good, most seem to be sitting on the fence. The common conclusion made is that multitasking can be both productive and risky, depending on what activity you’re doing.
I hate to be a conformist, so I won’t agree.
There is a common misconception surrounding what multitasking is. Dr Weinschenk claims that what we deem as multitasking is actually synonymous with ‘task-switching’, where we switch between tasks simultaneously, but not working on multiple things at the exact same time.
Computers often work by multitasking, which greatly improves efficiency and productivity, so why is it often disliked when we’re the ones doing it?
Not to be proud, but I’m great at multitasking. Not because I can text and watch TV, while playing a game of chess (which I can do), but because I play drums. I can play 6/8 time with one foot, 9/8 time with the other, 7/8 with one hand, and 4/4 with the other. It sounds awfully complex, but really it comes naturally, and it sates the true definition of multitasking; when a person ‘deals with more than one task at a time’.
I argue that multitasking is a positive thing because, yes, it stimulates our brains, and often is a natural behaviour. Talking and walking, singing and playing guitar, and running while dribbling a basketball are all examples of true multitasking. So next time you try to justify texting and driving as skilful multitasking, remember that you’re actually just trying to switch between two tasks, which research has proven is dangerous, not natural.
- Cherry, K 2013, Multitasking, About Education, weblog, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/costs-of-multitasking.htm>
- Daily Mail Reporter 2012, Modern multitasking in the world of technology, Daily Mail, 14 April, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2129522/How-modern-multi-tasking-good-brain.html>
- Hyman, R 2014, So is multitasking good or bad for you?, FedSmith, 14 March, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.fedsmith.com/2014/03/14/so-is-multitasking-good-or-bad-for-you/>
- Loder, V 2014, Why multitasking is worse than marijuana for your IQ, Forbes, 6 November, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2014/06/11/why-multi-tasking-is-worse-than-marijuana-for-your-iq/>
- Mind Tools, 2012, Multitasking, Mind Tools, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_75.htm>
I could think of another 19 reasons as to why I could live without a smartphone, and yet I continue to live on with a smartphone, and when push comes to shove, I’d probably defend the thing with my life.
I think the real addiction of smartphones lies in their portability. Instead of keeping technology in the confines of our homes, we can take it out on to the streets, into the shopping malls, and into our social meetings. Anywhere and everywhere. These places are public spaces. Public spaces are regarded as areas in the public realm that help ‘promote social interaction and a sense of community‘ (APA, 2013). However, now it seems that public spaces are just realms in which we have to go, and are not obliged to act socially. According to the American Planning Association, a ‘Great Public Space’ is one that ‘promotes human contact and social activities’. While the increase in mobile phone use has enabled us to connect with people on the other side of the globe, a study by Przybylski and Weinstein found that even the mere presence of a mobile phone or laptop device can have negative effects on the closeness, connection and conversation quality between people (Przybylski & Weinstein, 2012). Bringing a piece of technology designed for an individual to use (mostly independently) into a public space, like a library or café, is not a bad thing, however it can tarnish face-to-face social interactions.
Anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, developed the concept of ‘proxemics’, exploring the boundaries and influences of personal, social and public spaces. While there are no strict rules regarding our interactions with other people in public, Hall devised a set of radii that seem appropriate for particular social contexts.
To briefly explain what this diagram means: In the middle of the red circle is you. Each surrounding coloured circle is a person/set of people that you interact with, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally. The diagram suggests that if you interact with someone in a social space, such as at a train station, it is suitable to keep a distance of between 1.2 metres and 3.6 metres between you and the other person. Hall suggests that any closer is invasive and uncomfortable.
Now why am I talking about this? Because, now at the centre of the circle, we find not only you, but you and your phone. Your phone is now a tool to alter these socially accepted distances. With a phone in your hand you are given the permission to stand a little closer to someone in line at the service station, as long as your eyes are down on your screen and not on them. However it also does the opposite. It forces you to be further away, perhaps not physically, from those closest to you. We push our family and friends into the social space bubble, and pull our Twitter and Facebook feeds into our personal and intimate spaces.
Technology is twisting the once well understood social norms of personal and public space. A public space is now simply a place you must walk through, or sit in, with no relational value. They are no longer places that promote human contact, but instead demote it, because public spaces are becoming places where we hide behind our screens. Where we are too distracted by our virtual social-life to give a damn about our real one.
- American Planning Association, 2013, ‘Characteristics and Guidelines of Great Public Spaces’, American Planning Association, viewed 6 September 2014, https://www.planning.org/greatplaces/spaces/characteristics.htm
- Lee Lin, H 2012, How your cell phone hurts your relationships, Scientific American, 4 September, viewed 6 September 2014, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-your-cell-phone-hurts-your-relationships/
- Przybylski, A & Weinstein, N 2012, ‘Can you connect with me now?’, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, viewed 6 September 2014, http://spr.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/07/17/0265407512453827.abstract
FOMO fascinates me. I remember my cousin introduced me to the term just last year, and for a moment or two I thought it was an actual scientifically claimed phobia. If you’re as naïve as I was then you’ll want to know what it stands for: Fear Of Missing Out.
When I learnt this, I laughed because I thought it was a comical term, but as the weeks went by I found myself saying it as if it were in the dictionary. Why was I saying it so much though? Simply because I saw this ‘fear of missing out’ everywhere I went. I saw it in my friends, in my family, and in myself.
It’s something that has developed as technology has, and the Internet hasn’t helped. If I miss a party, I get bombarded with pictures of it on Facebook, which somehow makes me feel like I’m missing out. The insane thing is that even when I have no desire to be at a particular place, with particular people, I can still feel a sense of FOMO because social media makes things seem far more fascinating than they actually are. It may seem quite desperate (which it is), but this irrational fear can be more dangerous than we think.
There is always a constant need for connection. This connection causes us to crave our virtual lives, and not feel content with the real lives that continue to exist regardless of whether there is a WiFi connection. Our virtual lives are the ones that we diligently craft online through the likes of Facebook and Twitter. They exist outside the world of tangibility, in a utopia of connectedness. We conjure up our idealised selves, defined by edited photos and funny (yet thought-provoking) status updates that we constantly deliberate over. We begin to pour ourselves into our virtual lives so much that we forget to disconnect for just one mere moment. We fear solitude, because we ‘need’ to be socially switched on in case we miss something detrimental, like a friend’s breakup, party, or lunch portrait.
My household doesn’t yet qualify for the National Broadband Network, however a 10-minute drive south from mine, you’d find my boyfriend’s house which boasts a connection to the NBN. He gets all the benefits of quick connection speeds, and loves it. He had a countdown for when his house could connect to the NBN. My parents and I must be aliens as we are not so entranced by the new network.
In my household live somewhere around 8 devices. I say ‘live’ because these devices truly do engage in life and with people just as much as I do. I have my own mobile and laptop, my mum has a mobile, and my dad has his mobile and iPad. We each have our own data plans, plus another that encompasses the shared home computer and, last and perhaps least, the almost antique landline telephone. Yes, we sit on our phones while attempting to have family bonding time, and yes, we find ourselves absorbed in our own devices, while propped in front of the television, while in the physical company of one another. We do not, however, have a distinct desire to get the NBN now.
My mum and I agree both ignorantly ask, ‘how much faster could the Internet possibly be?’ while my dad has probably already predicted the nature of our future family events with an NBN connection. After dinnertime he often pipes up saying, ‘How about that? I’m the only one sitting here not on my phone!’
We laugh, feel guilty for a moment or two, and then let our face fall back into our newsfeed in case we missed something in the previous 2 seconds. It’s funny how aimlessly we scroll through our newsfeeds, looking for something of worth. I think that is the real cruncher here: people feel like they’re missing out on things that have no significance or worth attached to them. We fear missing out on things we don’t like, or don’t even know about, and the worst part is, we don’t know why we feel that way.
Facebook and Twitter do not help this because they are platforms designed specifically for people to promote how good, and more importantly, how popular they are. They cause the ‘need’ for nonstop attention, and exist because people identify their worth with the amount of people they are in contact with. Here is the reason that I now, almost resent the Internet: If I can connect to this platform of self-assurance quicker, than why wouldn’t I? And thus the already apprehensive and addictive teenager is swept even further down the drain with the availability of the NBN.
The cure for a case of FOMO? ‘Ironically, it’s to ‘plug back into life’, and by that I mean real-time living in the moment. Be present with what you are doing now. Avoid digital distraction. Use your Internet and digital devices if and when you need to and not to allay an anxiety that you will somehow miss out.’
Don’t miss out on the real, more precious things in life, because you are too caught up in not missing out elsewhere.
- Ryder, P 2013, Do you experience FOMO?, The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, viewed 24 August 2014, http://virtual-addiction.com/do-you-experience-fomo-fear-of-missing-out/
- Grohol, J M FOMO Addiction: The Fear of Missing Out, World of Psychology, viewed 24 August 2014, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/04/14/fomo-addiction-the-fear-of-missing-out/
- Turkle, S 2012, Connected, but alone?, TED, viewed 24 August 2014, http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript