The Power of Documentation

For this open post, I’d like to go back to Week 8’s topic of Online Visibility.  In that particular post, I wrote that I don’t like to share a lot of my personal life on social media. However, since then I have come across many YouTube channels in which the users share a lot of their activities and experiences online.  These include going to the seaside, getting parts of a house refurbished, baking cakes and much more.  Watching a few of these videos got me thinking about the treasures that come with such heavy documentation.  By recording the simple pleasures of everyday life, such moments are immortalised forever.

There are many benefits that come with filming, or ‘vlogging’ daily activities, and many parents enjoy capturing their children growing up.  As a child I was often filmed by my parents when I went to theme parks, had my meals and got ready for school.  These videos were never put online, because major social media organisations such as Facebook were not in existence yet.  But nowadays, with so many platforms to make yourself visible on, sharing personal media has become incredibly easy and almost irresistible.

I recently found a blog and YouTube channel hosted by a pregnant mother-of-two, in which she regularly uploads videos of her children’s ordinary lives.  She also uploads house tours and shares her trying to conceive journey as well as pregnancy updates.  I admire her detailed channel because she has managed to capture so many moments in time that would have otherwise been forgotten in the blink of an eye.  You can take a look at her blog here and channel here.

Sharing personal life online has its benefits; it informs and entertains, can provide financial support and encourages others to also document their special moments. Looking through the channels that I found has made me want to create an online terminal to store my own personal experiences such as travelling.  It’s being willing to share so much that can be an issue.

I’d love to know what  you think about publicly sharing such mass content online.  Would you consider blogging and vlogging as a full-time career?  Would you be comfortable with opening a large window into your everyday life?  Where would you draw the line?



Movies on YouTube

Missed the chance to see a film in the cinema? Don’t want to buy the expensive DVD?  You immediately browse on YouTube for the movie.  Been there, done that.

YouTube offers movies to be watched with purchase, ranging from £2.49 to beyond £10, depending when the film was released.  It is possible to watch movies that are still being shown in cinemas.  It’s very rare that you’d be able to watch a full movie entirely free of charge on YouTube.  Movies range from biographical dramas such as Steve Jobs and He Named Me Malala to animated films including Inside Out and Big Hero 6. I suppose this is one of the ways that the company, managed by Google, tries to make a profit.

Although it can be frustrating when not being able to locate what you want to watch online, I think it’s fair that such movies need to be paid for, especially if they have been newly released.  If they were not copyright, many would be taking advantage of them and cinemas would not be as successful.  I have been lucky enough in the past to watch full popular movies on YouTube for free, but I know that such occasions were just from luck, and these movies are taken down shortly after being uploaded.

Many people already use YouTube to download music illegally, so I think it’s acceptable that movies are restricted to certain scenes.  Although YouTube is a Creative Commons license, allowing these movies to be viewed free of charge would raise heavy concerns about box office profit and piracy.


Active enough for the time being

Social media came into my life at around the age of 15.  At first I thought my parents were being over-protective and felt peer-pressured to open all sorts of online accounts with the fear of being isolated from my social circles.  But looking back, I’m glad I waited till beyond the legal age.

On my Facebook account you have access to much of my personal information: name, age, birthday, education, where I live, where I’m from and my family members.  I chose to share this information because I believe it’s needed in order for my contacts to know that it’s really me.  I use Facebook predominantly to message my close friends and to share photos that have a special meaning to me.

I add people who I know or have at least heard of, but out of nearly 500 ‘friends’, I only have a close connection with less than 100.  I think this goes to show that Facebook does in no way reflect our real personal lives; a profile of someone is just an inaccurate projection of who they really are.  Many of my Facebook contacts know almost nothing about me.

On Instagram, I have a private account because I don’t feel entirely comfortable with sharing my photos with the whole community.  I only provide a small amount of information such as my name and a short biography about me, again to let people know that it’s me.  What I like about Instagram is that, unlike Facebook, I’m not constantly reminded to change my profile picture and update information – rather I can do that at my own pace.

As for Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Flickr and many other platforms, I do not hold such accounts.  This is because I feel that the profiles I currently have are enough – they serve for the right purposes and already take up a lot of my time.  However, I think that as I move closer to hopefully becoming a journalist, I will inevitably widen my online presence to make global connections.

Crowdfunder: Where true generosity is shown

The online community which I would like to share in this post is Crowdfunder,  a largely active fundraising platform for all kinds of purposes.  The act of crowdfunding is when a large number of people contribute towards making a visionary project a reality. Crowdfunder is the UK’s largest crowdfunding community, with a range of partners across the country that support them.

A few of the projects that Crowdfunder has helped raise money for are:

  • refurbishment of a retreat house in Twickenham
  • funding towards LGBT teacher training in Scotland
  • a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in order to support less privileged communities.

But one project that has been incredibly successful is one that was created by the neighbours of a baby boy named Buzz, who developed jaundice shortly after birth.  Unfortunately, medical  professionals did not examine him properly, he wasn’t dedicated the correct medical attention and his parents concerns were ignored.  As a result, Buzz developed Kernicterus, a severe form of brain damage, has cerebral palsy and completely lost his ability to hear.  The project aimed to raise just £300 to enable Buzz to receive his first assessment as well as providing follow-up sessions for other brain damaged children.

Remarkably, Crowdfunder has boosted the project to more than £3,500, with donations open for another month yet.  This goes to show how online communities, especially those which fundraise, can bring out so much generosity in people.

Overall this is a very positive online community, but if I had to address some challenges/limitations, then they would be that there is  a lot of competition for fundraising due to the popularity of the platform.  It means that many projects do not get addressed at all, which would lead to disappointment for the person who started it.  There is also a chance that someone may be lying about their project, causing donors’ money to go to a different place.

Nevertheless, I think Crowdfunder is an amazing website that illustrates harmony and human morality when a community’s hearts are touched.  I would definitely recommend having a look at their website to see if there are any projects you would like to donate to.

If you have a project in mind that you would like to make a reality, you can create it here.

You can also have a read of Buzz’s project here.

The Student Room

It’s the night before a public exam, you’re revising in a hurry and all you can think about is the predicted questions that are likely to come up in the paper you’re soon to take.  You urgently need some advice on what notes to prioritise, or some words of relaxation to calm you down because you’re panicking.  We’ve all been there.

The online content which I would like to share is The Student Room, a chat room founded in 2001 where students can discuss and share ideas about how to structure essays, chances a particular question is going to appear in an exam, and many more aspects of academia.  As the largest online student community with over 1.8 million members, threads about different topics can also be found, for example, ‘Fast car, big house or hot wife?’ and ’12 memories for those who grew up in the 2000s’.  It’s constantly active, with a large number of replies flooding into every conversation each minute.  Just to give you an idea, one post received 8336 replies in one minute.

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This form of audience participation is significant because of how many people make up this community.  It provides a space for students to find help for homework issues, advice on UCAS applications, or simply a chat about matters which are external to education.

The Student Room has a smartphone app, making it accessible from almost anywhere.  It also offers the option to speak anonymously, to avoid identification if talking about an embarrassing matter.  The downsides of this, however, are that it increases the chance of cyberbullying, and the heavy activity makes it difficult to keep track of a thread smoothly.

Overall, I think this is a useful place for students to connect and open up to one another, and is a suitable example of audience participation. The Student Room Ltd also holds two other major websites, Marked By Teachers and Get Revising.


Media Multitasking

A classic example of convergence in the media would be that it is now, and for a long time has, been possible to perform a numerous amount of tasks that require the media all at once.  At this moment while I write this blog post, I am able to enjoy a range of instrumental music that I find improves my focus levels and helps my study.

What do we do moments after we open our eyes at the start of a new day?  Undoubtedly, most of us reach for our phones to urgently check our refreshed Instagram feeds and any WhatsApp messages we may have missed from waking up late. Whilst tapping and swiping at the touch screen, we are probably able to talk to a loved one if we have them on loudspeaker. Similarly, whilst driving, we are able to effortlessly talk on a hands-free set or enjoy the radio whilst using Google Maps to lead us to our destination.

On several of our slick, shiny TVs, we are able to browse YouTube videos to enjoy on a bigger screen.  Alternatively, many now use their tablets, connected to the TV, to browse all sorts of media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Thus, tablets begin to lose their primary function and become more of a remote control for the 50 inch television.

This type of media convergence has definitely made completing tasks that we feel are necessary quicker, and everyday life easier.  But in total honesty, I see media convergence as a great shame in human history.  What happened to having a truly dedicated conversation with another person without texting another?  What about watching a family film without watching a vine on Facebook?  Media convergence has caused us to lose our appreciated that we once had for all types of media.  We cannot help but now take it all for granted.  We furthermore become helplessly addicted to the media, in all social, political and economical forms.  It greatly reduces face-to-face communication which can make a relationship superficial and awkward when the members meet in person.  Lastly, it promotes cyber-crime that is especially dangerous for the youth of today.



Keeping up to date with the stats

So we know that technology is a dominant factor of our lives.  We know that it’s an essential and entertaining way of communication.  We also know that it’s the biggest addiction and guilty pleasure of human beings; pick up your phone for a quick Candy Crush game, and before you know it you’ve missed the homework deadline.

But what exactly do we know about how technology works and its mass usage?  Many of us are absolutely shell-shocked when we realise just how much the world of technology and the internet is relied upon every day.  This is probably because of our mindset when engaged online; we tend to become self-absorbed, convinced that everything else has frozen in time.

This is why I would like to share a news database that made me more aware of the processes of technology, its major popularity, and the isolation it causes for poorer countries.  It is published by the BBC and details how the internet works, the top 100 sites visited by each country, a list of the richest web earners and many other related topics.

I believe this is useful for students studying this module because it increases recognition of everyday technological activity.  The site includes a timeline of worldwide net growth, illustrating the power of technology and how accessible the internet has become.  It also provides a slideshow which educates on how a web page is efficiently processed and displayed to the visitor.  Additionally, there are live counters included, calculating the use of Google, emailing, blogging, and the internet as a whole.  The speed of the numbers rising is what I found to be most shocking.  The visuality of the data gives a good insight into how much we rely on the internet, further making us question how such usage has actually become possible within the space of just 47 years.  For me, it prompted wider and more critical thinking about the technology, which I trust is imperative for studying the media.

I think this database is very student friendly as all information is provided in bitesize amounts, meaning that it is not overwhelming and can easily be transferred into notes for future revision. However, one negative aspect of this site is that some of the data was conducted back in 2010, meaning that it is now outdated.  Nonetheless, one can tell that much of the other data has been included for long term reference and is therefore still applicable today.

I hope you find this online resource as helpful and informative as I did.  Let me know in the comments which part of the site you found most interesting and why!

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