Month: August 2014

Living in a liquid labour life

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Liquid labour is a strange concept to struggle with, until you realise that we deal with it every day. Deuze words it as “In liquid life, the modern categories of production (work) and consumption (life) have converged”. Liquid labour has a lot of pros and cons. The cons are things such as not having separation of work and home life. But for this post, I will focus solely on the positives, and how they have affected me.

When I was a kid, my Dad was a computer analyst for AAPT. This was (as far as I am aware) a highly complicated job at the time. He worked in Sydney, and would have to leave at 6am, and return at 6pm. I remember standing on the bridge at Kiama train station, waiting for my Dad to come home, and waving to the train driver, who would honk the train horn and flash the lights at me in return. And some days (even better days), my Dad would work from home. It basically consisted of him looking at computer screens that – to me – looked completely incomprehensible, while I bugged him to play Mario Kart with me, or vacate the only computer in the house so that I could play Neopets. I didn’t realise then, but my Dad was a liquid labour worker. The pro of this is that he was not away from home for 12 hours a day. This doesn’t mean much to a lot of people, but for me, losing my Dad to cancer when I was 11, those days were amazing for me.

 

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For a lot of people, liquid labour causes problems. Other #DIGC202 students have pointed out that it affects the union movement, and that it makes it hard to separate private life from work life, as you don’t always have a place to “relax” and wind down, separate from your place of work. But these aside, sometimes we need to focus on the fact that liquid labour means the world to some people.

Regarding my post yesterday

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I said some mean things about the internet. I said that its used to spread hatred, fear and vitriol. Which it is.

But I neglected to mention that sometimes the internet does some fucking great things.

About a month ago, a user on Reddit posted a photo of his custom Brisbane Lions shoes. I sent him a pm, asking him how much he charges to do an Essendon pair. I got this message in return:

Normally I charge people around 50 or so for football teams.

But I enjoy the culture on r/afl and I am looking to keep that going. Plus another user recently did something nice for me so I wanna do this for you. Let me know your shoe size and I will send you a pair for free. All I ask is that you pay it forward 🙂

He finished them, sent me these photos, and today they came in the mail:

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Im pretty fucking stoked. To put it lightly. Sometimes the internet allows people to do really nice things for complete strangers, under the idea that they’ll then go do something nice for someone else. Then its not so bad.

A Networked Society, United Under Fear.

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With the invention of the telegram, the world quickly became a global network. All of a sudden, people had (although not cheap) access to real time information of things happening across the world. This caused the obliteration of geographical borders and the homogenisation of time and space. However for some in Australia, the telegram became something to fear. Now 100 years later, living in a global network dominated by social media, I believe this network is still being used to spread fear.

The importance of the telegram became apparent in Australia in World War One, despite the fact sending a telegram was costly. According to historian and UOW lecturer John McQuilton, between April 1915 and the end of WWI, 1100 telegrams were sent per week regarding dead, wounded or gassed soldiers. This number increases to over 1800 a week including illnesses. (McQuilton, 2011). If my maths is correct, and I hope it is, that is a total of over 522 000 telegrams. In Australia during WWI, the pink telegram became a source of anxiety and fear for families and loved ones. This fear was of opening a telegram listing a time and place of death, or worse – listing a man as simply “missing”.

I argue that today, our advanced version of the telegram (ie: social media) is still being used as a source of fear. While this is definitely not a direct fear, like receiving a telegram in WWI was, I see that it is used as a channel to spread indirect fear, mainly cultural. While understanding it is not part of everyone’s cyber experience, I find that it is an undeniable part of it. When we have an amazing feat of technology that allows us to instantly interact with people globally, and instead it is used by some to peddle fear of immigration and Muslims, something has gone wrong. When we have to have fact checking websites like Snopes and Hoax-Slayer to check “should I pass along this racist email?”, something has gone wrong. When we have emails spreading saying that refugees in Australia get paid more than aged pensioners and other Australians, something has gone wrong. Only yesterday I saw someone tweet that they are cancelling WWE’s paid tv service, because it is promoting “Anti-USA values” by allowing a Russian wrestler to win a match. A. Scripted. Wrestling. Match.

While it is nice that we have websites like The Anti-Bogan, who call out people on their hatred, fear mongering, racism and sexism, it really is something we shouldn’t have to have. Their tagline says it best:

If they didn’t publish their hatred, it wouldn’t have appeared here.

Geographical borders no longer matter, we have access to everyone in the world instantly, we can learn about other cultures, we can learn other languages, we can teach people about our own culture and languages all within a few clicks of our mouse. Perhaps this is the cynicist in me, but we have the biggest chance to interact globally, but some of us use it solely to spread fear. In a network society where we are more connected to everyone in the world than ever before, we are also driven apart by the very thing connecting us.

 

Edit: Here is an update

Home is where the WiFi connects automatically.

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Thinking about Ted’s lecture “From the Telegraph to Cyberspace”, I have to think where along the line I came into this. I came into this where computers werent just things to access the internet on, and really, a computer without internet access was still quite fun. I spent most of my time on the computer playing Wishbone Print Tricks and making things on Paint. And playing Carmageddon, but that can possibly just be put down to questionable parenting.

So back to the internet, I still remember every second of the sound of connecting dial-up internet. And in case you don’t, here it is:

And when I got online, what did I even do? From memory – I trawled strange MSN chat rooms and played Neopets. The 5 second length of time between page loadings didn’t seem all that bad. Cut to today, and I’m currently mad at my internet because its being slow having 8 Google Chrome tabs open at the same time as streaming something on Twitch.

So its been only about 12 years or so, and we’ve gone from the computer being some enormous, Windows 2000 box of a thing that sat in the corner of the lounge room and was fun to play Solitaire and Freecell on (I had a 45 second high score for finishing a game of Freecell), to my brand new Windows 8 laptop that doesn’t even come with Freecell or Solitaire preinstalled. I’ve bolded that, because I was quite furious when I found out.

We’re now in a society where home is where the WiFi on our phone, laptop, tablet connects automatically (embarrassingly, this means for me, Stockland Shellharbour is my home away from home), and if somewhere doesn’t have free WiFI, we’re not going.

 

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Some people see this change to an internet dominated society as a blight.But for me, the ability to pull my phone out of my pocket and send a text message to one of my best mates in the UK, who I never would have met if it weren’t for the fun act of “adding strangers on MSN messenger”, is one of our greatest strengths as a global population.

McDonalds Internationally – lulling us into contentedness with lamb and beetroot

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In an environment of rapid globalisation, every day citizens are more aware of globalisation and how it affects them on a daily basis. Really, it is very hard for people to not notice how this affects them. Every day is a bombardment of media advertising Coke, McDonalds, KFC, IKEA, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Disney, Dreamworks, Facebook and hundreds of other non-Australian companies and brands. Many people are aware of the idea of cultural imperialism, even if they are not aware the actual name of it. Cultural imperialism is where one culture (mainly American, although not exclusively) intrudes on another country’s traditional values and culture. This eventually overruns and in some cases completely eradicates that country’s way of life, and contributes to loss of cultural diversity (O’Shaughnessy, Stadler, 2008). This can be seen worldwide, as we are living in an increasingly Americanised (or perhaps, Americanized) society.

So with this newfound knowledge of our imminent Americanisation, companies are charged with the idea of marketing their American product in a way that promotes the culture of the country they are working in. This is known as glocalisation. In my opinion, fast food giant McDonalds is particularly good at doing this. In 2012, McDonalds Corporation pocketed a profit of $5.5 billion, worldwide, and there are over 900 McDonalds restaurants, currently open in Australia. In January of 2013, coinciding with Australia Day, McDonald’s Australia chose to temporarily change the signs of 13 of their restaurants to acknowledge their Australian only nickname of “Maccas”.

Photo by Brittany Andrews. instagram.com/ticksandleeches
Photo by Brittany Andrews, at Engadine Maccas. instagram.com/ticksandleeches

Maccas also occasionally implements specific “Aussie” burgers, usually including damper, lamb, beetroot, or a combination of these. This embracing of Australian culture and slang is a way of making an American product seem more appealing to Australian consumers.

Image sourced: Burgerbusiness.com
Image sourced: Burgerbusiness.com

This doesn’t just happen in Australia. I asked 4 of my friends what their experiences with the fast food giant was like while they were overseas, in France, Japan, England and Thailand. Each country has at least some type of glocalisation in place to appeal to local consumers.

In France, they sell the McDo, ham and cheese sandwiched between what my friend described as a “pancake-like” bread. They also sell goat cheese wraps, something that would never sell well in America, Australia or Asia. Truly a glocalised product.

Japan’s love of sweeter food sees them selling bacon and egg McMuffins with the same sweet, pancake-esque bread.

England Mickey D’s sells porridge, bacon sandwiches and McMuffins with bagels instead of muffins.

Thailand has possibly one of the strangest localised menus, selling tuna pies, broccoli pies, chicken porridge and mooncakes.

Through these localised menus, we can see how giant corporations use glocalisation to somewhat sway public opinion on to their side, by giving customers familiar and local food. This is a way almost circumvent the negative effects of globalisation that the general public have picked up on, mainly being the cultural imperialism and the  destruction of traditional culture and Westernisation of countries. Using the media to promote it, such as with the “Maccas” signs, McDonalds embraces local cultures and cuisine, so that consumers feel less “invaded” by the presence of the overriding Golden Arches.


References

O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J (2008) ‘Globalisation’ Media and Society (fifth edition) Oxford: Oxford
University Press, pp. 458-471.

DIGC202 Introduction

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So, another introduction post.

 

I’m Britt, doing a double degree of Arts and Communication and Media Studies, with majors in history, photography and digital media and communication. Unfortunately I am not all that interesting. I spend a lot of time inside, taking photos of my dogs, Diamond and Amber. Hard to describe what I like, because it is quite unspecific. I listen to a lot of music, love live music, been to about 50 concerts of every different genre of music. Everything from Aqua to Marilyn Manson to GWAR to John Farnham to Cat Stevens. I love reading, but dont get enough books read. I spend too much time watching tv shows and playing video games. WWE is my guilty pleasure.

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I also take a lot of football photos, this one being my favourite. I am a massive Essendon Bombers supporter.

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Unsure what I want to study in this subject, but focusing on photography, and any opportunity to get published would be fantastic, as my dream job is in photojournalism.

Here is a photo of Dave Brockie (the lead singer of GWAR) in their last Australian show before his death a month later. While in itself, technically it is not a fantastic photo, the amount of fun I had that night, coupled with his death makes this one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. Nothing is better than spending a night having fake blood sprayed on you from Tony Abbott’s decapitated head by an intergalactic metal band.

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And thats really about all I can think to say about me. So I will leave you with this photo of a cute zebra I met in Melbourne.

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