Month: August 2015

How can collaborative ethnographic research be used to analyse contemporary media use in the home?

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Lets be honest, who doesn’t love quantitative research? A whole bunch of data in front of you that you can organise into nice little colourful graphs, and for the most part, you probably don’t have to talk to anyone. So its a win/win situation. Quantitative research gives you information such as the OzTAM Australian Multi Screen Report which is extremely useful, especially for those in the marketing and advertising industry. However, it has its downfalls.

A ratings meter shows what someone is watching on their television. But it doesn’t show how or why they are watching it. Or really, if they are watching it at all. In my house, which has two people, these are the different ways we “watch” tv:
– Leaving it on when we aren’t home, either to make people think we are home, or because we can’t find the zapper to turn it off. Yes, it is a zapper. Not a remote. Lets be mature here and get all the giggles out before we continue. Zapper.
– Leaving it on while we sleep. I am not sure why we do this.
– Putting whatever I can find on while I edit photos/go through reddit/whatever I am doing. Which is not really “watching” tv.
– Live tweeting a show and spending more time looking at Twitter than I do watching the show. This happens with the WWE, Q&A and The Great Australian Spelling Bee. Basically any television show that I watch live, I am tweeting about.

So what does a ratings meter in my home show about how we watch tv? Absolutely nothing, other than the fact we have it on. The Twitter experience when watching live television can best be summed up by this segment I saw on Bojack Horseman just a few days ago.

“I’m not 100 percent watching, because I am so engrossed in the second screen experience, but according to the second screen experience, other people are loving the show.”

  • Wanda. Bojack Horseman, Season 2, Episode 8
BH
Source: I screenshotted these from Netflix and then combined them in MSPaint.

This is where qualitative research is needed to find out the hows and whys of what people are watching. Collaborative ethnography “implies constant mutual engagement at every step of the process” (Lassiter 2005) and this is what media audiences want, to be involved in the process of making what they are watching, especially when they are watching media that concerns them as a group. This is why I believe collaborative ethnography should be used more when making media that addresses LGBTI issues.

To be 100% transparent here, I am not part of the LGBTI community, so even I, in this post, may not be completely correct with what I write. But these are the conclusions that I have drawn after talking to friends of mine who are LGBTI, in my own sort of mini-collaborative ethnography.
So, back to why I think it is needed. When a lot of people working in the film industry and attempting to produce media content addressing LGBT issues are straight, they can often get it very, very wrong. An example of this came up two days ago, where the Twitter account of the show Pretty Little Liars tweeted about a transgender character: “He. She. It.”

While to most people, this is quite obviously an offensive statement, the fact that it was tweeted shows a distinct lack of understanding of what they are trying to portray. With collaborative research, even just as simple as “hey, which terms are offensive?” this could have been avoided. Another example from this year is the movie Stonewall, which replaces the historical characters of a black drag queen and a Hispanic transgender woman with a fictional white man. It seems that while Hollywood does want to portray LGBTI history, they don’t want to shake up the norms too much. Stonewall has been heavily criticised for “whitewashing” what could have been a poignant film.

I worry that until media producers pull their finger out and actually collaborate with members of the LGBTI community, the media will continue to perpetuate incorrect stereotypes. In a culture where the LGBTI community is still subject to unprovoked violence, we need the media to stand up and address this properly.

But I do not want to end on a bad note, so I will also talk a bit about where collaborative ethnography has been used and has worked. The video game Kisima Inŋitchuŋa, or Never Alone, is puzzler that tells a story based on Alaskan Indigenous folklore. It is a beautiful game with amazing art, that was written in collaboration with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council. As you play, you unlock “cultural insights” which can be viewed as you play, or from the main menu. These are videos that explain what is happening in the game, and its cultural and historical significance. As a gamer, I cannot think of any other games that told a cultural story as thoughtfully as Never Alone did. In fact, in my first blog post, the image of me and my dogs playing Xbox is taken while I was playing Never Alone. That section with the polar bear was almost fiendishly hard.

In summary, here we can see two examples: One were collaborative ethnography is very much needed, and another where it was used to perfection. Hopefully other media outlets will follow suit.

What media space do I occupy?

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Screenshot (2)

Above, in that tiny box in the bottom right corner, is my media space That there couch – I actually have a new couch since this but it is still in the same spot – is my office. It is my office, my daybed, my football watching station, my desk, my Netflix couch, and most importantly – my Xbox battle station. Those two tubby dogs next to me? They’re my copilots.

I am a person who has occupied quite a lot of virtual space. I am a virtual space invader. From having over a million neopoints in the bank vault in Neopets, to a pretty solid account on White Oak Stables, a Myspace, a Bebo, and basically everything else you can find. In fact, if you even google the right keywords, you will find my long since abandoned LiveJournal. But please don’t. Because that is not something that either you or I want to see. Ever. Please leave my LiveJournal shame on LiveJournal, before you embarrass us all.

Now, I am a gig photographer, the national events manager for AMNplify.com.au and now the main virtual space I occupy is my photography Facebook page.

This couch is the physical space that I occupy while I do my best to occupy almost every virtual space I can get my hands on. This is the space I take up when I am sending off a plethora of emails to try to get access to gigs for our photographers. This is the space I take up when I transform from myself into Geralt of Rivia, Witcher (or whichever other Xbox game I am playing). This is the space I take up when I am reliving moments through photos I have taken.

Step into my office.

Introductory post

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Even though everyone has already done 100 of these in their degree so far.

I’m Britt, I am a bad gamer, an average photographer and an excellent dog lover.

My main areas of interest are video games, photography and dogs. You can check out the photos I take here.

I have never eaten sushi. I never owned a Gameboy, although I did have Pokemon Snap on Nintendo 64, and the first episode of Pokemon on VHS. I think I did have a Tamagotchi once, but my Mum killed it while I was at school and I cried for hours.

Basically, I have very little experience with Asian cultures and this semester is going to be very interesting for me.