Social Media and the Anonymous Society

There is little doubt that social media use has become ubiquitous in modern societies. So much so that it is almost impossible not to have some sort of online presence. With just a persons name you can find out an amazing amount of information, and with face recognition software, we will soon see the disappearance of the anonymous society. But is all this necessarily a bad thing?

Enter the Fixers

Currently there doesn’t seem to be a week that someone isn’t caught out doing something deplorable by social media; such as the Starbucks Arrest or the Racist Lawyer Rant. In the past both of these, and many more incidents, would have gone unnoticed, brushed under the carpet of our anonymous society. But now they are viewed, shared and judged by a social media consortium.

One additional aspect of incidents such as these, is that it helps others share their stories, and we are reminded that sometimes these are more the norm rather than the unusual. It can demonstrate a point of view from the outside of a persons social network.

Crime & Punishment

With social media being the judge and jury to these crimes one question remains, who is the executioner? For this I rely on the adage, live by the sword, die by the sword. Many of the punishments dealt out are self imposed, or reflected back onto the parties by social media. Starbucks held ‘anti-bias training‘ closing stores to do so, and The Lawyer has lost contracts and had his business rating lowered by angry consumers. The outcomes for both of these incidents will be different, one will do something and make changes while the other will most likely try to ride it out in hiding.

What about Freedom?

Some might say that freedom of speech is vital to a society regardless of size. I believe this is true, but not freedom from consequence.

The way that information is being created and shared on a daily basis. It is becoming harder and harder to keep things inside a circle of tolerance. The people in these examples have had their opinions and ideas festered and protected by those they surrounded themselves with. While it may not have been done on purpose, it has been the outcome. But now with social media, it is much easier to show people the effects of what they say and how they act; especially to people and communities of limited voice.

Social Media Gets Results

The fear of being outed on social media can keep people from doing things that they know is wrong. Everyday in the park, across the road from my house people are littering (car batteries was the latest). I wonder how fast it would stop using a camera and social media feed to expose the culprits?

Feature Image: Ryko naktys by Zoi Koraki (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Selfie Culture; What a Bunch of Posers!

One of my secret pleasures is looking at random selfies. I have found that many subjects, mainly those under 25, have a few poses to pull ready for the shot. When looking at these and I often wonder how did they decide on that  pose? How many photos did it take to achieve such photographic confidence?

Kids Today

When I compare the way my kids, especially my daughter (6), handle themselves in front of the camera it is clear that the ability to pose just comes with experience. Although she doesn’t ask to delete photos that she’s not happy with, I am sure that this is not that far away! When taking photos I can ask for a variety of expressions from her and she hits it almost every time. A part of this success is that she wants to see the photos straight away. Could this be an aid to memory? I believe so. With the immediate result it’s easier to see if the pose had the desired effect. If not then a new photo can be taken in seconds.

You Lookin’ at Me?

Generally, I don’t enjoy getting my photo taken (despite a recent post), or even looking in a mirror. It was something that I was never used to as photos were mostly taken to mark a special occasion. They were not especially expensive, but there was a cost and time involved. Film was sometimes developed weeks after the shot and there was no second chances to capture the moment. Occasionally a roll would come back and some photos were taken over six months ago! I didn’t give too much thought as to what I looked like in a photo at the time it was taken; it just happened. But with modern devices it’s possible to have reflective considerations on how you look in photos and this can prepare you for times when you’re not in total control of the camera.

I’m No Model but…

I don’t believe taking a selfie is vain, and knowing how to handle yourself in a photo is an ever increasing important skill. Imagine going for a job and the interviewer takes your photo (this has happened to me three times), do you want your one chance to stand out to be a good one? You can’t ask to see the photo – well you could but that’s not going to go well – and you need to be confidant that you look your absolute best to stand out of the slush pile.

Selfie Skillz

Like most things taking a good selfie requires skill and patience. Find out what works best for you. However there are a few tips that I’ve picked up in my travels.

  • Look up to the camera and not down.
  • Avoid the front on shot, a slight angle is more interesting.
  • Don’t look into the light, find some shade if possible.
  • Take many and pick the best one.
  • Delete as you go, don’t wait until the memory is full.

These work for me in most situations, but not necessarily for everyone. Figure out what works best for you; but also remember not every photo needs to be a selfie.

Feel free to comment below with your own selfie tips!

Feature Image: Posers by Mick C (CC BY 2.0)

Why I said ‘Goodbye’ to Facebook Groups

Groups on Facebook are a way that like minded people can come together and discuss topics of interest. Anyone with a Facebook account can start a Group, and dependent on the settings others can find it and join. Once accepted the new member can make posts and comment on other peoples posts. All of this is great in theory, but it relies on the premise that people are accepting of the ideas of their fellows. In the end I found groups to be more divisive than inclusive, again showing that ‘social media’ is a fallacy.

I’m right and you’re wrong!

Many Facebook Groups appear to follow the mantra, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong!’. However, this is flawed thinking. A Group by its definition is supposed to be a place of shared ideas. People of different backgrounds join or are invited because of a common theme. Listening and understanding the thoughts of others is how we learn. We don’t have to accept the ideas of others but it is not that hard to listen, and engage in sensible debate. I found that too many times a person started a Facebook Group with the intent of shouting their messages and ignoring or abusing all others. But that is more akin to a Page rather than a Group.

So what happened?

I was a member of several groups that were about a similar topic. However, I found that many people were just arguing all the time, mostly over rules and how it should be played. But the funny thing about this particular hobby is it has very few rules on how to play, as set out by the creators. Some of the arguing was so bad that a few members had split and formed new Facebook Groups. But even in these new Groups a lot of the talk revolved around which Group was right and why they don’t talk to that Group and so on…

It was all very depressing and it made me start to dislike something that I had loved doing. A few times I had  commented that maybe these things were not worth worrying about, only to find myself at the bottom of a dog pile. So instead of trying to weave my way through the clouds of hate that these groups produced, I pulled the plug and exited all of the groups. I’d had enough. I didn’t care which faction was right. Why should I let some toxic individuals ruin my fun? It was something I didn’t need in my life. It was all very sad (as in pathetic).

How I feel now…

After ditching all the groups, I felt a massive wave of relief. I got back into doing what I thought of as an enjoyable pastime. I began to see it for what it was, and was less concerned about what others thought of it or each other. I started to follow people that seemed to enjoy it as much as me. They were making videos and periscopes and running blogs. They talked about the hobby itself rather the who did what or where. It was a much more interesting time. I feel that Groups are really for the few individuals that start them, and not necessarily for other people to join.

Would I try them again?

All of this happened some time ago and just recently I have joined a couple of different Groups. I am much more diligent this time and I read a few posts and see how people respond. Also I found that a Group that has clear rules about what it accepted and what is not, has made for a better time and an active community (such as this Hiking & Camping Group).

What I learned…

Basically, if something is happening in a Group that you don’t like. Don’t hang around, get out! Odds are many others feel that same way. As I said before, anyone can start a Group, but to run a Group? Perhaps that takes something more than the average Facebook user is willing to commit. Before starting something, have a think. What will the Group be about? What should the discussion revolve around? How should the discussion take place? How should people that don’t follow guidelines be dealt with? Maybe then social media will become more social rather then a network of closed door rooms.

Feature Image: Goodbye. by Lucy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Finding Something to Write About

Bulb – Trish

All discussion is the prequel to inference…

One of the biggest challenges that arrive with having a blog is finding meaningful content to write about. Previously, I wrote a short post that contained a timeline of potential blog post titles and in the time that it took to write it, about an hour and a half, I came up with many ideas. Some may flesh out and gain life on this blog, others may not, but it did provide a loaded springboard that could be used when the urge to write struck. In coming up with the ideas for the timeline I used two main questions; what do I want to learn more about and what am I interested in? Another possible question to ask yourself is; how can I help others? However, sometimes sitting in front of a screen is not the best method for extracting the creative juices. Many times I have sat down with  nothing more than a proverbial wall to smack my head against, get frustrated and give up, but there are ways around the problem of and idea drought.

To The CuckooRay Sadler

It is best to remember that ideas can occur at any time, and they usually occur when we are the least prepared, like driving or in the shower and so on. To capture these you need to have the tools at hand. If you are a dreamer have a pen and paper next to where you sleep; while driving have a voice recorder ready to go at all times; the shower is tricky, a water proof sharpie and write on the tiles? The point I’m getting at is you need to have some form of recording implement ready for when the muse slaps you on the back of the head and then darts back into her cave. Whatever your method, don’t rely on your memory as it will often not capture your passion when the idea first forms.

Other means of coming up with ideas include:

  • Reading the paper and highlighting particular stories that you feel you could comment on. This may take the form of criticism, comments, opinion or a more in depth look at a certain topic. Most newspapers are set out so that at least something on the page will appeal to the reader, skin through a select, then go back over it in more detail. Sometimes the smallest stories lead to a bigger one.
  • Facebook can be a gold mine for ideas. When someone makes a comment that is of particular interest to you instead of replying write your answer up as a blog post, but be sure to balance out you opinion so it doesn’t come across as too one sided. Recently I used this technique to write a story about saying ‘Happy Holidays’ at christmas. This is something I have strong ideas about and I didn’t wish to ‘unload’ at my mates on FB.
  • Twitter is another excellent source, probably more so than Facebook, for picking up blogging stems. Make sure you are following people that have similar interests and be ready to latch on to ideas and bust out that 140 characters into a sweet 1k blog post.
  • Study your interests and write about your experiences. I love reading YA (young adult genre) and I spend probably more than too much money on the procurement of books, but when it comes to finding a new author the world of the web can be some what lacking. Why wait for someone else to do it? Blogs are easy enough and the research is already being done when I go looking, why not help others that may be in a similar situation? The bonus is that I get something to blog about as well. Take your own hobby and explore it in more detail, you may be surprised what is out there.

One last resource is to have drafts ready that may be nothing more than a title and a brief description, something that can be built upon later. No one ever need to see drafts and you can add them or delete at anytime. It is a perfect tool to use when you have an idea but not enough time or research completed to fully flesh it out into a coherent post (currently I have seven stub drafts just waiting to get their wings).

I really hope this post has given you some new and interesting ways of finding ideas and subject to blog about, it was a part of a self learning exercise; if it any way helps others, then that’s awesome as well.

 

Timeline of KAOSmedia Projects

Check it out! I used TimelineJS from KnightLab to create a list of all my KAOSmedia projects. Now calm down, I’m not saying I’ll do all of these; I’m certainly going to give it the good old college try!

Being an Aussie drone raised on US exports I actually have no idea what that means. Get drunk and stoned, but Daddy donates a wing so I graduate and then flash everyone at the ceremony? #80sFilmz

The Puzzle of the Profile Picture

puzzled
Puzzled by duzern (CC BY-NC 2.0)

No matter what anyone says, we are judged by our covers; often in the first few seconds

It may come as little surprise that companies are now looking at social media profiles to determine an applicant’s suitability. Even with an account set to private, when they find your account they will see a profile picture and perhaps older photos that had been your profile picture. If you log out and search for yourself, you can see what others will; it can be quite confronting.

This knowledge is what prompted a change of my profile picture. My existing photo wasn’t something that I was embarrassed about, it was more that it didn’t have much to say. It was a photo taken at my (old) workplace, and I liked the photo, which is why I had used it. On reflection it probably isn’t a good photo, in regards to conveying a message, especially because I am looking for a change in my career. Actually my LinkedIn profile photo was worse because I didn’t have anything just the anonymous grayed out silhouette – not very professional!

I’m not a member of the so called selfie generation and usually find myself behind the camera instead of in front of it. Therefore, I actually didn’t have anything that I would consider suitable. On a personal note I don’t generally like having my photo taken, but perhaps that is because most of my experience is with one shot and you’re done cameras, over the now many shot and discard digitals that are standard. So at 8pm, I decided to do a selfie photo shoot. I was looking for a natural pose and as I am lacking the self awareness of the practised selfie I took a few tentative shots and the results were less than impressive. In the end I decided to just go wild, pulling faces and trying to make myself laugh and not looking at the results until I felt that I had acheived capturing many different expressions and lighting angles with assorted backgrounds. The result was having a plethora of photos to choose from.

many-rob-t
Many Rob’s – Screenshot 2016

After viewing all of the possibilities the photo I selected was the one that I feel captured my personality the best. After selecting the photo, I decided that other aspects of my profile needed to be updated. If you haven’t updated your profile in over six months then it is most likely overdue. In the online environment freshness is key to keeping up to date and current.

The end result of this process is a much more serious and professional profile. Will it in turn result in people taking my opinions with a more weight? Only time will tell; but I certainly believe so.

 

#rainbowdashrules

Developing Divergent Identities on Socials

People are akin to a strand of copper wire; until you open them up you can’t know what is hidden under that plastic exterior.

wires
Cable Confusion – Eric (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Some people have centralist ideologies based around one main interest, but many are divergent and can’t be defined to form fit into standard ideals. I have always hated how some people feel the need to box you. They make an early judgement put you in a place and that is where you sit forever and no manner of accomplishment can shift you from this shelf; you will always be oh that person. Even worse though, as there can be an expectation of being an expert in this box they have you sealed up inside. Although it can be maddening, this personality trait can be used to your advantage especially when it comes to promoting yourself online.

One of the main components people look for when following someone online, especially with an unknown, is being consistent. For someone that has many different interests and even some that may contradict themselves, such as I enjoy novels and their film adaptions, I’m fine with dog and cats living together, but probably worst of all… Star Wars and Star Trek!

When you follow many different interests the feed can become confusing and hard to compile the individual stream into a coherent message. This can lead to missing information or worse believing something that is false to be fact. It was this type of misinformation that may have resulted in people voting certain ways in the recent US election.  It seems highly plausible that fake news was just more appealing, that it made the unaware share and promote them as though they were factual and therefore perpetuating the problem. If messages were received from one stream of collaborated consciousness it would have been easier to spot the anomalous fake message. After all it is easier to spot an orange in a bowl of apples rather than a blended smoothie.

apple-orange
Apple Puzzle – Salvatore Gerace (CC BY-SA 2.0)

To combat this, I am planning on splitting my socials into categories, and each will follow proponents of particular interests. If I pick four or five main interests, it will be easier to disseminate information and hopefully lower follower loss due to inadvertent unwanted information being provided. In the need to find work I really don’t feel that it is more beneficial to be a generalist reporter, as most fit into a category, such as: political, entertainment or scientific. While it is good to be able to provide employers with a sense of an ability to write and produce content on varied topics, I figure that having one group of social accounts themed to produce content on one major theme is the better way to get notice, rather than the scatter shot approach.

For the moment my main account will focus on my writing, which can include most of my content pieces as, despite the topic, they would all fall under a creative writing theme; these posts will be focused on the writing of the article rather than the content. In the not too distant future I hope to include new blogs and twitter accounts for my other interests.

 

Gamify your Health – Running from Surveillance

2013 Mother's Day Run and Walk by Sangudo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
2013 Mother’s Day Run and Walk by Sangudo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/

Fitness trackers are everywhere now; or about ‘1 in 5’ (Werner 2016). The little little blinky light things that have invaded people’s wrists and forced their ways into the lives of many. They have become a mark of the active class; a society of people determined to let others know that – I am healthy!

Like them or not, (and I love mine!) they are here to stay:

Incentive-based apps and websites are a growing segment of the overall health gaming market, estimated at $1.2 billion. (Shah 2013)

All fitness trackers, will count steps as a basic pedometer, but some include GPS and Bluetooth connectivity (compare Fitbit). They can link with your phone and give an unprecedented amount of information about where you have been and what you have been doing. This information can be published on the internet, sometimes without the expressed permission. When Fitbit was first launched users accounts were set to publish by default (this has changed now #lessonlearnt) and many users were not aware that this was happening (Matyszczyk 2011); resulting in some interesting – or appalling – information being made available. Even though the accounts were published without names it may be possible with some savvy searching to match the details with an actual person!

Even with the total ability to keep the information generated by this technology private, just about everyone has a few friends that share everything that it generates, Fusco describes the sharing of these events on social media platforms as:

In these spaces, institutionalized and individual practices work together to fabricate spaces that represent the healthy athletic body and a set of individuals who are deeply invested, for the most part, in reproducing themselves as executors of health. (Fusco 2006, n.p.)

Nokia Lumia 920 - Caledos Runner by N i c o l a (CC BY 2.0)
Nokia Lumia 920 – Caledos Runner by N i c o l a (CC BY 2.0)

So we can see that, through that act of sharing a person can be seen in the light that they wish to be known; this is the general basis for the self-moderated social media platform; we share the best bits and dump the junk. This is where social media can be a powerful tool, it has the capacity to incite behaviors from others, some times good and sometimes bad. Arroyo and Brunner examined the effects of seeing fitness tracker activity posts in social media and their findings were that:

…individuals who reported seeing more of their friends’ fitness posts on [Social Network Services] reported engaging in higher levels of healthy behaviors, however they also reported making higher levels of self-disparaging comments and being highly dissatisfied with their bodies as well. (Arroyo and Brunner 2016, p.244)

From this we can note that the sharing of information creates a certain image of that person, although it does create negative thoughts in the mind of the viewer. But how does all of this relate in real life? We see trackers on people wrists daily, and even if they are not actually doing anything is the fact that we have seen the posts of others and the fact that we know what they do enough to make us think better of that person? Is it just another piece of the active wear puzzle?

Ha. No, it is time for bed not time for a walk, Fitbit. by RK Bentley (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Ha. No, it is time for bed not time for a walk, Fitbit. by RK Bentley (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Another way to look at the act of sharing fitness tracking data, is gamification. The ability to share and compare creates competition. The sharing of data (scores) and the winning of workout goals is just about the most motivation people need to use the technology – after all what is stopping a person for just going for a walk; the fitness tracker adds the elements of a game and as such the desire to compete with others.

Is it possible that instead of just being influenced and feeling like a lesser person for not working out, that we just feel left out of the competition? Could the fitness tracker and all of its associated web sites just have become the virtual locker room?

The locker room is, spatially and discursively, a modern and disciplined space, which is imbued with discourses of power. (Fusco 2006 n.p.)

Like most things it is all in the interpretation. When looking at the fitness data generated by another, we can feel guilt, jealousy, admiration and envy. But that is the bane of the social environment – and in reality it is not something that has been created by social media; it just enhanced it.

Beyond everything the point to any fit tracker is industry and we are driven to strive for what may be considered the social normality. These companies collect data, perform analysis and possibly sell the information to others so personalised marketing can happen. Recently I purchased (was gifted) a Samsung fitness tracker, and twice in the sign up section I had to avoid ticking the receive marketing check boxes. So is it really about getting fit, or just another way to track and catalog us into marketable beings?

References

Arroyo, A, & Brunner, S R 2016, ‘Negative body talk as an outcome of friends’ fitness posts on social networking sites: body surveillance and social comparison as potential moderators’, Journal of Applied Communication Research, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 216-235.

Fusco, C 2006, ‘Inscribing healthification: governance, risk, surveillance and the subjects and spaces of fitness and health’, Health and Place, vol. 12, pp. 65-78.

Matyszczyk, C 2011, ‘TMI? Some Fitbit users’ sex stats on Google search’, CBS Interactive, retrieved 8/Sept/2016, <https://www.cnet.com/news/see-jane-go-takes-men-out-of-the-ride-hailing-equation/>.

Shah, A 2013, ‘For better health, try turning fitness into a game’, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Nov 25. <http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/kids-health/232929501.html>.

Werner, J 2016, ‘Do fitness trackers really work?’, ABC, retrieved 14/Sept/2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/do-fitness-trackers-really-work/7304788>.

 

Data Filled Cookies – Online Digital Marketing

fortune cookie (365-262) by Robert Couse-Baker (CC BY 2.0)
fortune cookie (365-262) by Robert Couse-Baker (CC BY 2.0)

The minute you go to a website, depending if the website uses them, and look at content a cookie is saved on your computer. Generally, they do nothing – maybe hold a small amount of data that is used to remember who you are. But sometimes they can be used to construct an online image of who you are and what you like to do, and in this case they stop being harmless – depending on your point of view.


In discussing the potential of digital marketing Damien Ryan says that there is:

…an evolution in the way people are using technology. It’s about harnessing the distributed collaborative potential of the internet to connect and communicate with other like-minded people wherever they are: creating communities and sharing knowledge, thoughts, ideas and dreams. (Ryan 2014, p.14)

Sentiment Analysis for C-of-the-ACM by Charis Tsevis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sentiment Analysis for C-of-the-ACM by Charis Tsevis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By this he means people are sorting themselves. They are choosing what they like and selecting things that they like to do. We are putting ourselves into the box, making it easier to sell us items. Online marketing experts do this with the collection of cookies, known as third-party cookies.

In theory, these cookies could be used to track visitor behaviour across multiple websites, building up a picture of user browsing behaviour as they surf the web. (Ryan 2014, p.74)

Searls elaborates by stating that:

Advertisers don’t have to build this capability for themselves: they rely on ad delivery networks that claim they can show relevant ads to people no matter which website they’re visiting. (2016, p.77)

Is this bad though? Is there really an impact besides what advertising we are seeing? Ramlakhan explains:

Third-party cookies are unethical and a breach of privacy because they invade one’s privacy by tracking an individual’s movement on the web, they are not consented for by the computer user nor is the user aware that their every movement on the web is being tracked, and they allow personal and private information to be used for marketing needs and possibly sold to businesses, thus treating an individual as a commodity and exploiting an individual’s personal information. (Ramlakhan 2011, p.60)

Do I feel like my privacy has been invaded when I see a targeted add pop up on Facebook? Not really, it’s more of a joke, that some company is going to pay Facebook money to advertise something to me that I have already found.

I still see ads for this, and I feel bad. I mean I like the ABC shop and perhaps constantly seeing the ads will keep it fresh in my mind. Perhaps it will eventually entice me back to the website and I will inadvertently spend my money where as otherwise it would have been forgotten.

Hang on a minute… Curse you online marketing!! #deletecookies

i like my sister. by Miriam Pittioni (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
i like my sister. by Miriam Pittioni (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Tene makes a really interesting comment in that:

Every day, millions of users provide Google with unfettered access to their interests, needs, desires, fears, pleasures, and intentions. Many users do not realize that this information is logged and maintained in a form which can facilitate their identification. (Tene 2008, p.1435)

Does this mean that Google should be paying us? Are we not doing market research and not being compensated? If people were to be paid for just doing what they normally do, perhaps the data will be skewed and flawed and then not as valuable as it had once been. If we don’t want to be tracked, Google suggests using the incognito mode.

Is it all in our heads? Are the marketing guides so sophisticated that we believe we are being watched? I’m going out on a limb here and, well no. We are being tracked. Companies are sorting us based on not what we like but rather what we are viewing, even if it only for a second or two. Are we really box people instead of a mass amount of individuals? Does anyone like being placed in the marketeers box? Do we care?

I think that for most people advertising has become, the white noise of the internet – it just goes on without being noticed, occasionally something may grasp our interest and we click on it and Facebook gets paid. But then this is how services like Facebook and YouTube are free. Would you pay a monthly subscription to avoid advertising? If the demand out strips the revenue gained from advertising, I’m positive it will happen and then maybe we can browse without being constantly surveilled.

Then again there are other ways of profiling users without checking for cookies – enter the dawn of the geo-location marketing.

Perhaps there is only one way out…

References

Ryan, D 2014, Understanding digital marketing. [electronic resource]: marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation, London ; Philadelphia : Kogan Page, 2014.

Tene, O 2008, ‘What Google Knows: Privacy and Internet Search Engines’, Utah Law Review, vol. 2008, no. 4, pp. 1433-1492.

Searls, D 2016, ‘The End of Internet Advertising as We’ve Known It’, MIT Technology Review, vol. 119, no. 1, p. 76.

Ramlakhan, NE 2011, ‘Ethical Implications of Third-party Cookies’, International Journal of the Humanities, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 59-68.

The Freedom to Play

doodle jump(Doodle Jump by Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0))

Mobile gaming applications (MGA’s) have no purpose other than to be mindless time fillers; existing in a world where time is multitudinous. Maybe not time itself, it has no tangibility, how about ‘time-packets’? Little portions of time that slip by during the day wasted. Yep, that sums it up perfectly. MGA’s fill in these time-packets with their unobtrusive and mindless ways. Next time you’re stuck at the doctor for the bus, look at the people in the waiting room; that guy’s shedding some Angry Birds; that woman has dropped a slice of Zombie Highway; that kid… OMG he’s got a book!! Look away! Look away!!!

Ahem

MGA’s don’t seem to offer anything or take anything, they just exist. But do they? Realistically they are money making machines, aimed to target us when we are at our most vulnerable; like punching a guy while he’s squatting behind the bushes. When boredom takes over, the eyes roll back and maybe we’ll by some ‘Gems’ just to skip this annoying level. Ninety-nine cents a ‘Gem’ isn’t all that much; this is how they generate revenue.

Aha, but I’m too smart for all that jazz! Oh really… well there are other ways, more nefarious ways, that MGA’s make you pay for their brightly colored delights. After all it didn’t get to be ‘a ten-billion-dollar industry’ just by selling fictional trinkets (Biscotti et. al. cited in Zhang et. al. 2013, p.1487).

Some games have the ability to read data from your phone while you play it, and in turn be able to translate this data into a sellable commodity. One perfect example of this is Ingress.

2016-08-03

(Screenshot by R. Williams 2016 – Ingress.com)

Ingress is explicitly geared towards solving complex computational issues while also bolstering marketing apparatuses through the collection and processing of players’ behavioral data. Because surveillance is embedded into its game mechanics, Ingress produces a community where everyday surveillant labor is normalized as a valid system of exchange. It is, in fact, the gift that players continuously give in return for the privilege of play. (Hulsay and Reeves 2014, p.392)

Just like that, you’re turned into a mindless slave working for the numbers crunching machine. Although isn’t it better to have targeted advertising?

Not only that but you got to have fun doing it? So much better than having your Saturday morning ruined with some guy and a clipboard.

‘Just a quick survey sir?’

‘No dammit, I have dragons to slay!!’

[SLAM]

Most people are probably intrinsically aware that games are doing something. We all get to see what the game wants access to and usually have ticked yes or accepted the fact that our data will be looked at. There have been reports of MGA’s doing things like this for years, but we still keep playing them.

Is it possible that we actually do need MGA’s for what they provide? A slight distraction from the monotony of a life pause? Sure there are other ways of entertaining those minute packets of time, but what else fits into such a small space and is so endearingly convenient?

being watched

(Playing games by Nellies (CC BY-NC 2.0))

It’s all a part of living in the consumer society. We ourselves drive the advertising and if deep down we didn’t want it we would just stop. Back to work everyone, lunchtimes over.

References

Zhang, Z, Chu, D, Chen, X, & Moscibroda, T 2013, ‘Mobile Motion Gaming: Enabling a New Class of Phone-to-Phone Action Games on Commodity Phones’, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 12, no. 8, pp. 1487-1501.

Hulsey, N, & Reeves, J 2014, ‘The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Google, Ingress, and the Gift of Surveillance’, Surveillance & Society, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 389-400.

The Perils of Photo Geotagging

I suppose like most people I didn’t know what geotagging was and at first it seemed really bad. I immediately thought of all the photos I had shared. But after finding out that my phone had never had location switched on, there was much relaxing of sphincters; possibly even a little curiosity. Once I started playing around with the location service I started to like it and began to think of ways that it could be implemented in positive ways and where I could use it to better my life.

Essentially geotagging is when a GPS enabled device attaches longitude and latitude coordinates to a photo, which means that this photo can be located on maps.

Is this my actual location? Or am I out somewhere hunting Pokémon – I mean going for a walk? If there were a group of shots it’d be easier to tell (or you could just ask! Rude much?) and that’s where the problem lies.
When you upload photos it is possible that a person can download them and, quite easily, find out where it was taken. Sounds scary? At first it seems very frightening; although most social media sites strip the data to save on file space (Schwartz 2013).
The risks of allowing geotagged photos to be broadcast include:

  • People being aware of when you are not home.
  • A child’s location being tracked.
  • Location of endangered animals being inadvertently tracked by tourists (Boyle 2015).

There are many benefits of geotagging as well, such as:

  • Patient tracking to demonstrate the spread of disease outbreak (Velasco, et al. 2014, p.23).
  • Creating, ‘a personal travel guide.’ (Humphreys & Liao 2011, p.412) to share with others.
  • Entertainment, such as sharing Geocache location finds.
  • Marking places of interest and importance, such as hard to find historic sites.

Finding out geotag information is easy enough. It’s a simple as looking at the properties of the file, in some instances a link is provided to exactly pin point the location on a map. There are also websites available (www.geoimgr.com/en/tool) that allow you to upload photos and remove or add geotags.

In dealing with geotag surveillance being prepared and aware is probably the best defense. The more mindful the user is of surveillance technologies such as these the less likely they will be caught out.

To find out how to switch geotagging on or off on my phone – Sony Experia Z5 – I had to hit the web as I had no idea if it was running. But now that I know how (and a handy little pin tells me), I am going to use it regularly; especially in one of my fields of interest, discovering street art.

How to links:

References
Boyle, D 2015, ‘Now poachers are using Facebook and Twitter to track down rare animals: Gangs scour social media for geo-tagged photos then use co-ordinates to find wildlife.’, retrieved 27/7/16, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3029812/Now-poachers-using-Facebook-Twitter-track-rare-animals-Gangs-scour-social-media-geo-tagged-photos-use-ordinates-wildlife.html#ixzz4FbxS4mvI>.

Humphreys, L, & Liao, T 2011, ‘Mobile Geotagging: Reexamining Our Interactions with Urban Space’, Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 3, p. 407, Academic OneFile.

Schwartz, M 2013, ‘Facebook Stalking Fears: 6 Geotagging Facts’, retrieved 27/7/2016, <http://www.informationweek.com/mobile/facebook-stalking-fears-6-geotagging-facts/d/d-id/1111161?>.
Vamosi, R 2010, ‘What digital photos reveal about you: the geotagging data in mobile phone images lets strangers know exactly where you are’, PC World, 11, p. 39, General Reference Center Gold.

Velasco, E, Agheneza, T, Denecke, K, Kirchner, G, & Eckmanns, T 2014, ‘Social Media and Internet-Based Data in Global Systems for Public Health Surveillance: A Systematic Review’, Milbank Quarterly, 92, 1, pp. 7-33, Health Business Elite.

 

ALC201 Identity Post

This post is intended to analyse and reflect on my own social identity, why I use it and then discuss what I would like it to become. It identifies some current thinking about those who use social media and offers a definition of its users.

I first logged on to Facebook in 2008, and at first I was very timid about the information that I uploaded and people that I friended. As I have been inadvertently taught, as Marshall describes, ‘The pedagogy of the celebrity in the twentieth century can be read as a very elaborate morality tale that mapped a private world into a public world.’, (Marshall 2010, p. 37) that is to say through our media pummeling of celebrity antics we understand what and what not to post, tweet, act and live, and while some seek to emulate most are paying attention and there has come a natural avoidance of unfiltered social content.

With time it was easier, this I can tribute to what de Backer states about two forms of gossip, reputation gossip and strategy learning gossip (cited in Marshall 2010, p. 37).  Through reading and learning what others are posting, therefore utilising the strategy gossip, you come to an understanding of how to conduct yourself online. Now, certainly, I am much more comfortable sharing information and digitally exposing my own character. The majority of my comments and posts are things that make me laugh. As Young describes though, ‘Presenting oneself online using a personal webpage, blog or social networking site requires purposeful selection of text, pictures, graphics and audio to create an impression.’ (Young 2013, p. 3). Does this mean that I am leaving out all the characteristics of my personality that I don’t want people to see? I think that you can look through someone profile and get a general image of what hat person is, but you can never truly know them until you meet them. I mean we have all thought grandly of some celebrity and them met in real life and suddenly have a completely different opinion afterwards (for me it was ‘meeting’ David Boon). Mehdizadeh (cited in Young 2013, p. 12) states, ‘…Facebook presents a unique opportunity for a greater, or a different form, of self expression than is possible in face-to-face context.’, so I suppose if met David on a ‘cranky day’, and that image stayed with me the use of social media could be used to show the true self. This is how I think of my social identity, I am quite stand-offish in real life, but Facebook and other sites allow me to be myself.

When discussing users of Facebook, Toma and Hancock (cited in Greenwood 2013, p. 233) state that:

The extraordinary amount of time people spend on FB [Facebook] may be a reflection of its ability to satisfy ego needs that are fundamental to the human condition … [that] pertain to how people wish to see themselves-socially attractive and embedded in a network of meaningful relationships.

Greenwood continues saying that, ‘Online profiles may function as a reassuring social mirror that confirms existential presence and value.’ (Greenwood 2013, p. 223). This is all good, but there are studies that have shown that Facebook use decreases emotional well being (Kross et al cited in Greenwood 2013, p. 223). Certainly looking at someone else’s photos of their amazing Thai holiday makes me feel a bit depressed but then I remind myself that everyone is putting on their best and leaving all the mundane things out, and honestly should I care? I prefer what McKenna (cited in Sparks 2013, pp. 266-267) suggests in that the effects of social media is positive:

For people who are impoverished socially and have few people in their social networks, use of the Internet may expand social horizons and lead to a greater sense of connection – thus increasing a person’s emotional and psychological well-being.

At the moment I use Facebook, and other sites, for about 75% of my social output, and it predominantly exists to keep in touch with my family and friends, whom I don’t have a lot of face-to-face contact. This slide show is a brief representation of photos that I share:

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They are mostly my kids, DIY projects, and an occasional selfie. This is how my current social identity exists.

When it comes to defining aspects of social media participation, Bernoff and Anderson (cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2014, p. 307) suggested these titles:

At the moment I would describe myself as a conversationalist-joiner-spectator. In the coming months and certainly as I hope to move into my study field orientated workplace, I hope to move more toward the creator spectrum. The question remains though what do I do with my existing profile? Personally I don’t think I have anything untoward on my Facebook page but then I control what is displayed as Young (2013) states:

…the ways in which we perceive, present and represent ourselves has evolved over time; from pre-modern period where identity was based on social status at birth, toward an identity formed today where the individual more readily controls how he/she is perceived by others.

I decide what I say about me and it is all dependent on what is happening right now and it can change and evolve to form a different collage as to who I am. There are some aspects of my current social identity that I would like to improve on. The first is that I am starting to feel disillusioned with Facebook, this is most likely due to the abundance of advertising and being bombarded with information that sometimes leaves me thinking, why? I have been leaning toward Twitter as my main social media outlet, but even that has its problems. I would like to continue the evolution of my website, which I have owned for about three years – mainly for a clean email, and until recently have done very little with it. The initial idea behind the website was to be a showcase area for my writing. However utilising what I have learnt recently I feel it can be turned into a mecca, of sorts, of all my online identities.

There is also the thought that should I have to change my online identity when looking for work? As I previously stated most of my posts, tweets and comments are thing that I find funny, and some get likes and some get none, the enjoyment is really for my own amusement. A prospective employer may see thing differently. For an example I offer a scene from Gattaca (1997), Vincent Freeman is in an interview and they take a DNA test to determine if he is suitable for a job. That isn’t too far away from a prospective employer trolling over your online identity to decide if you fit into the company.

While we are all genuinely free to compile any form of identity we wish, most of us are aware that is not just our friends that are looking. Certainly this is something I keep in mind.

TomahawkRob

(word count, not including citations ~ 942)

Bibliography

Croteau, D & Hoynes, W 2014, Media/Society: Industry, Images, and Audiences, 5th edn, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Gattaca 1997, film, Jersey Films, Los Angeles.

Greenwood, D N 2013, ‘Fame, Facebook, and Twitter: How attitudes about fame predict frequency and nature of social media use’, Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 2, 4, pp. 222-236.

Marshall, D 2010, The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as a marker of presentational media, Celebrity Studies, 1, 1, pp. 35-48.

Sparks, G 2013, Media Effects Research: A Basic Overview, 4th edn, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, MA.

Young, K 2013, ‘Managing online identity and diverse social networks on Facebook’, Webology, 10, 2, Article 109, <http://www.webology.org/2013/v10n1/a103.html>, retrieved 04/08/2014.