Writing Culture and Recording Culture


  • Cultural representation have emerged against a backdrop of an ideology and a materialization of process that enormously transformed urban and rural landscapes and the people who lived in them
  • Industrialization, urbanization and mass communication have radically changed the way people live and work together (20th Century)
    • Mass communications technologies help facilitate this new way of living/being.
  • Writing about culture and recording different ways of life were a kind of preservation effort inspired by an ethnic of concern and obligation and an implicate nostalgia of modernity.
    • Recording technologies allowed people to observe their interest in culture and to capture it.
  • In the 19th/20th century: the ‘discovery’ of indigenous people by anthropologist motivated a desire to understand the lives of an Other.
    • Reflected a combination of eroticizing that Other as well as a general curiosity about people living in a different life to you.
  • Recording culture became how you could “record cultural life in a manner that falls outside the practices of conventional academic research”
    • Recording also used sound to show the cultural life.

Sound Recording

  • Observed and reported on cultural life by anthropologists, sociologists and journalists.
  • Sound recording and audio share the same concern about cultural representation that occupies current ethnographic work.
    • Audio has had a great impact by showing past/present/future.
    • Audio documentary tend to help aspiring documentarians and radio journalists.
  • Qualtive researchers don’t use audio documentaries.

Hearing Voices

  • Walter Fawkes: cylinder recorder
    • ‘The songs and stories themselves where taken from the Indians themselves, on the wax cylinder of the photograph’ Fawkes the journal od American Folk-Line
  • Not only did Fawkes record stories but he caught the cultural practices to help others learn, ‘Passamaquoddy recording’
  • Robert Winslow Gordon makes wax cylinder recorder and records a song
    • 1920s he lugged his gear from San Francisco to Georgia to record American folk songs.
  • John Lomax and son Alan recorded prisoners and made a deal with a library man who selled Gordon’s music to keep the collection going

These 3 people used these recording to create history in ‘culture recording’ and ‘technology’

Inscribing Culture

  • 1970s, Clifford Geertz distinguished the practice of ethnography as a process of writing equated with inscription.
    • ‘Textualizing’ everything
    • Inscription moved the ethnographer away from the fantasy of objectivity.
  • Cultural experience.
  • James Clifford; engages in a process of writing culture only underscored the politics of cultural representation by emphasizing the absence of any neutral vantage point from which to observe culture
  • Culture can be a bounded or/and contained concept.
  • Clifford uses culture as polyphonic and non-finalized.
  • Lisa Gitelman pointed out that from the phonograph’s very inception Edison imagined the technology as having a capacity for saving the sound of culture from oblivion.

Fawkes, Gordon, and the Lomaxes opened up the category of ‘culture’ to include laborers, prisoners, politicians and presidents. They were materializing.

Raymond William argues that culture is ordinary.

Microscopic Sounds

  • Tony Schwartz uses a tape recorder to study the migration of a population of people to New York City.
    • He records feelings/rejection and how it feels to physically move through the city.

In 1945 he added a Webcor wire to the recorder to maximize the volume of the tape recorder.

  • Mass marketing of portable recording really took off in the 1950s.

Non-academic use of recording has become the source of more contemporary creative artists such as Negativalnd, who creates a new form of audio culture.

  • In Schwartz’s recordings you hear a polyphonic expression of diverse experiences and viewpoints as well as languages in juxtaposition.

Recording culture provides a unique means of experiencing and making sense of reality.

  • To grasp a sensory experience of a present
  • Schwartz radio program reflected a new form of desire to preserve a sense of presence and shows how the research (production and process of the product dualism imbues critiques of many ethnographic alternatives)

New journalism is important because it provides a textual model that aspires to some of the same informative and aesthetic values people associate with audio production.

  • New journalism is creative non fiction
  • John Van Maanen’s ‘tales of the field’ was published amid the calls of reconsidering a critical ethnography.
  • Michael Agar argued that mode of reporting is as ‘dilemma that occurs when process and product turn problematic’

New journalism becomes apart of audio documentary and recording culture by interpretation and analysis and the writing process becomes part and parcel of telling a compelling story.

Layered sound and the craft of composing a story

  • The kitchen sisters are the impressionist story tellers compared to the stark realism of the recording made by earlier practioners such as Fawkes.
    • The layering of sounds they used from Morgan’s recording may lead to documentary purists who seem to forget that all documentary is representation not reproduction.

In this book, I feel that it was mainly based on the history how recording/documentary came about to allow what researchers do now a days. If the history of this didn’t happen they we couldn’t be able to record ourselves.

This reflects in the concept of the assessment as we have to use audio/sound/layering to form the ‘behind the scenes’ but then focus on the journalistic form of new journalism to write up how it happened in history for us to then use some style of their work in our assessment.

Week 1: What is Research

Monday 11th January 2016

Group Name: Triangle

Task 1: Questions about the module

  1. How will we learn the theories?
  2. Will it contribute to our understanding of research?
  3. How does the video link into media methods?
  4. How long do we need to take on the tasks?
  5. Do you think its best to edit task by task or at the end?

Task 2

  • Audio Quality – record in locations with minimal background noise; perhaps use an external microphone
  • Also record landscape
  • Framing of camera needs to be pleasing
  • No distractions in the background
  • Different shot types; 2 angles of group
  • Footage from lectures/seminars (need permission)
  • Individual members of group talk about how things are going against a black background (talking heads)
  • Spilt videos in sections with titles for each
  • Similar length of time for each week
  • Genre: funny/serious
  • Spilt-screen
  • ‘B-roll’ footage; additional shots
  • Music: public domain
  • Credits
  • Roles for each person
  • Group logo

What is Ethnography?


  • Ethnography is the study of social interactions, behaviors, and perceptions that occur within groups, teams, organizations, and communities. Its roots can be traced back to anthropological studies of small, rural (and often remote) societies that were undertaken in the early 1900s, when researchers such as Bronislaw Malinowski and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown participated in these societies over long periods and documented their social arrangements and belief systems. This approach was later adopted by members of the Chicago School of Sociology (for example, Everett Hughes, Robert Park, Louis Wirth) and applied to a variety of urban settings in their studies of social life.
    • The central aim of ethnography is to provide rich, holistic insights into people’s views and actions, as well as the nature (that is, sights, sounds) of the location they inhabit, through the collection of detailed observations and interviews. As Hammersley states, “The task [of ethnographers] is to document the culture, the perspectives and practices, of the people in these settings. The aim is to ‘get inside’ the way each group of people sees the world.”
  • Ethnographers typically gather participant observations, necessitating direct engagement and involvement with the world they are studying. Owing to the complex nature of social life, ethnographers need to record a variety of elements in their field notes.
    • During their observations, ethnographers routinely use informal or conversational interviews, which allow them to discuss, probe emerging issues, or ask questions about unusual events in a naturalistic manner. Because of the “casual” nature of this type of interview technique it can be useful in eliciting highly candid accounts from individuals. Ethnographers also gather formal in-depth interviews and documentary data such as minutes of meetings, diaries, and photographs.
    • Participants or situations are sampled on an opportunistic or purposive basis. It is also usual for ethnographers to focus upon specific features (for example, medical ward rounds) that occur within a research setting.
    • Analysis of ethnographic data tends to be undertaken in an inductive thematic manner: data are examined to identify and to categorise themes and key issues that “emerge” from the data. Through a careful analysis of their data, using this inductive process, ethnographers generate tentative theoretical explanations from their empirical work.
    • Reflexivity (that is, the relationship a researcher shares with the world he or she is investigating) is a central element of ethnographic work, owing to the relationship the ethnographer shares with participants and the ethical issues that flow from this close relationship. Within research reports, reflexivity is presented in the form of a description of the ethnographer’s ideas and experiences, which can be used by readers to judge the possible impact of these influences on a study.
    • To enhance the quality of their work, ethnographers will often provide a detailed or “thick description” of the research setting and its participants, which will typically be based on many hours of direct observation and interviews with several key informants.
    • In addition, ethnographic work commonly uses methodological triangulation—a technique designed to compare and contrast different types of methods to help provide more comprehensive insights into the phenomenon under study. This type of triangulation can be very useful, as sometimes what people say about their actions can contrast with their actual behavior.
  • Ethnographers often draw upon social sciences theory (for example, interactionism, feminism, and postmodernism) to strengthen their research focus and analyses. (The use of theory within qualitative research is examined in more depth in another paper in this series).
  • Ethnographic research offers several advantages. For example, the use of participant observation enables ethnographers to “immerse” themselves in a setting, thereby generating a rich understanding of social action and its subtleties in different contexts.
  • Participant observation also gives ethnographers opportunities to gather empirical insights into social practices that are normally “hidden” from the public gaze. Additionally, since it aims to generate holistic social accounts, ethnographic research can identify, explore, and link social phenomena which, on the surface, have little connection with each other.
  • Ethnographic research can be problematic. Owing to the relatively long periods of time ethnographers spend talking to participants and observing actions, it can be difficult to secure repeated access, especially if institutional gatekeepers are concerned that the research may cast their organization in a poor light. Obtaining formal approval from research ethics committees can be complicated. The direct interaction that occurs between ethnographers and patients or clinicians during fieldwork can be regarded with suspicion, as traditional notions of health services research rest on researchers’ detachment rather than involvement. Comprehensively recording the multifaceted nature of social action that occurs within a clinic or ward is a difficult task, as a range of temporal, spatial, and behavioral elements needs to be documented. In addition, the unpredictability of social (and clinical) life often means that ethnographers have to be flexible, patient, and persistent in their work, as data collection activities can be disrupted or access withdrawn as local circumstances and politics change.

Digital Research Diary

Week 2: Researching Culture

Monday 18th January 2016

In today’s lecture and seminar we focused on Ethnography and learned about the different types of Ethnography in media.

Throughout the lecture we defined what Ethnography is, understanding the positive and negative principles. This allowed my group to get an understanding of the different types of Ethnography we can use in our behind the scenes. During the tutorial we asked the questions to our tutor to get are much clearer understanding on the whole concept of the course, which allowed us in the end to tell her what we understood on what to do during this module.

Throughout the lecture we defined what Ethnography is, understanding the positive and negative principles. This allowed my group to get an understanding of the different types of Ethnography we can use in our behind the scenes. During the tutorial we asked the questions to our tutor to get are much clearer understanding on the whole concept of the course, which allowed us in the end to tell her what we understood on what to do during this module.

After the tutorial my group then decided when we would next meet to do the task we decided Wednesday morning to film, plan and start editing. If we don’t finish the editing then we will meet over the weekend to finish it.

During our break between tutorial and the seminar Emma Lawson and I decided to be productive and film some technology in the basement. We got shots of another group filming which showed us that everyone uses technology. We also got shots of the use of the printer and how it only works with the cards and we decided to get a shot of using the cards to enter a room which we cannot get into showing that technology can control us. We also got a shot of a disable lift opening up just by pressing a button.

Even though these shots are only a couple of seconds long, it just allowed us to get a feeling on what we have to film and it made us think if we wanted it to be close up or from a distance.

We thought it would be cool if we edited it now and added in some slow motion effects and fast motion effects to give our ‘Behind the scenes’ something more interesting instead of it being the same motion and the same boring continuous effects.

The seminar consisted of us working together on learning different Ethnology in more depth. My group got ‘Feminist Ethnology’. This Ethnology makes you think about gender and equality.

Learning about this Ethnology allowed our group decide if we wanted to include it in our ‘behind the scenes’. We eventually decided that it could work with other tasks but for technology it wont work. The Ethnology we do want to incorporate is Visual Ethnology as it allows us to focus on non-verbal communication and movement not just visualizing what is going on in the shot.

Before we started off filming on the rooms on Wednesday we decided what we could actually film. We decided the reception, some rooms we cant enter but some we can. We want to focus on as much as possible but we don’t want to over run on it being too boring. We thought it be best to use Prior consent as then people will not make a scene about us filming and everyone will understand what is going on, however it does come to a disadvantage as people then might not act normal with a camera in the room they might make it very un-natural when we want it to be natural, so we are also thinking of using post consent as then we film them but ask at the end if it is okay however again this comes as a disadvantage as people then might not want them in the film so we thought we could blur them out however this made the discussion interesting as people in the group don’t like blurring people out as to them it seems tacky.

We also came up with the idea of giving people things to do, for example 2 cameramen. These cameramen film one person filming the action in each room and the other person behind filming them film. Another person scouting for consent. Then the other two people writing down notes of what you can hear but cant see allowing a reflection of notes.

On Wednesday, we decided to start with the plan. In this plan we wanted to use the four bullet points as our guideline, at first we were going to discuss which theories and concept methods we wanted to use throughout the film processing. In this discussion we all came up with good ideas, for example the idea that technology isn’t just laptops/phones its also pens and papers, allowing us to see that technology is things we don’t even think is technology. We then went on to talk about how we were going to apply them as filming technology can be boring if we don’t use some sort of theory or process. In the end we decided that using visual ethnography, auto ethnography and performance ethnography would be the best theory to use as it all gives different aspects for when we film.

After we finished discussing this we went onto to film parts of the Ellen Terry Building. This filming helped us notice that most of our shots were ether Pan or a Tracking shot. As we all noticed that we thought it be best to do a ‘interview’ like shot, were one person sits and the camera focuses on them whilst they discuss what we filmed and what they see around them. This allowed our ‘Behind the Scenes’ to be different and we felt it would be less boring.

After we finished filming we went back and started discussing as a group what we found. This led into a discussion about how technology is everywhere and used in everyday life. As even when we were in discussion people were on their phones or laptops. This discussion also led into what we learnt and experienced, which was already in the discussion before but we just alliterated it a bit more clearly for everyone to understand.

At the weekend on Sunday, we met up and started editing everything we had filmed. Emma and Peter wanted to edit as they felt it was their strong point so the rest of us gave the second opinion on if we thought it was good or not. We also decided to plan ahead and think about next weeks task and where we would film for the space. This made us feel more prepared and understand more about what is going to happen in Monday’s lecture.

Analysis of Reality and Space


  • Cultural studies have recently been attacked for focusing on culture and identity, at the expense of global economic inequality. How does the analysis of ‘space’ help to answer this criticism?
  • What are the advantages and blind spots embedded in realist/materialist approaches to studying space, such as manual Castell’s treatise on the information society?
  • How does the multimethodological analysis of material, discursive and lived dimensions of space enrich more tradition analyses of globalization?
  • Why is ‘network’ a better metaphor for studying space then a ‘map’? What are the pitfalls off the network-metaphor?

Cultural studies has also been challenged by a broad materialist ‘rainbow’ front, criticizing that it has turned issues of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality into questions of identity, style and difference, bypassing the grim material forms of inequality and discrimination facing women, gays and black and brown people in the south and in the north. (Ebert, 1993; Dirlik, 1994; Morton, 1996; Walby, 2001)

Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are identical with material interactions.

Analyzing the information society

 To start discussing how to analyze the global space from a political and economic point of view, I will turn to the, perhaps, most authoritative statement in that area; Manuel Castell’s three-volume treatise on The information society (Castells, 1996, 1997, 1998)

 An information society is a society where the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity.

 Castells distinguishes the terms “information” and “informational”. He says that information has been an essential component of all societies, whether capitalist or not. In the new “network economy”, information becomes a key factor in economic productivity. Today, for example, for example, the flow of capital into currencies, commodities, and stocks is based upon access to information about relevant topics, from international politics to climate change, weather predictions, and social trends. In that sense, the importance of information in contemporary society is not new. What is new, he claims, is the informational shift to the manipulation of information itself: the “action of knowledge upon knowledge itself” (Castells, 2000b, p. 17) is now the basis to increased productivity. 

The flexible women

This new environment requires skilled flexible workers: the organization man gives way to the flexible woman (Castells, 2000a, p. 12). This leads to a binary process of inclusion and exclusion from the network. The people at the bottom are those who, with nothing to offer the network, are excluded.


The Third Space is a postcolonial sociolinguistic theory of identity and community realized through language or enunciation. It is attributed to Homioppo K. Bhabha. Third Space Theory explains the uniqueness of each person, actor or context as a “hybrid”.

In order to begin to think how to combine a ‘materialist’ analysis of global, social space and an acknowledgement of the political nature of the concepts we use to describe or constitute it one may resort to Edward Soja’s (1996, 2000) notion of ‘Thirdspace.

Soja refers to its material qualities that render certain actions impossible and facilitate others, so that, for example, the process of urbanization fuels itself by making certain nodal or rich regions capable of fomenting interaction and wealthy and increase their importance, power and attraction.

Feminist geographies

Gendered spaces

  • Masculine spaces
  • Feminine spaces

Feminist geography has been paradigmatically and politically positioned in a way that has made it likely to both draw on theories of space and to challenge traditional concepts of space and modes of studying it, This is because male geographers’ notion of space has often reflected a very masculine understanding of the world. For example, in urban geography women’s spaces such as suburbs and home s are usually understood in terms of private, consumptions and reproductions (Wilson, 1991).

Feminist scholars have challenged this real-and-imagined gendered geography by both criticizing women’s confinement in the suburban ‘safe’ space as well as drawing attention to the fact that the home is not simply the private sphere of reproductions but also a locus of often exhausting production or work as well as politics.

Flexible economy, flexible theory

To illustrate, in more detail, how to analyze and understand global developments, the political nature of discourses that describe them, and the ‘from the ground’ views that challenge them I will look at a recent study on Filipina contract workers (Gibson et al., 2001)

  • Labour market flexibilityrefers to the speed with which labour markets adapt to fluctuations and changes in society, the economy or production.
  • Leadership, strategy, and organizational performance are closely interlinked subjects, and not enough has been done to integrate them in the past.  Flexible Leadership Theory (FLT) provides some of the necessary integration.  We wanted to test a key premise of the theory with empirical research on reasons why some large firms have much better financial performance than others?

From maps to networks

Castells’ way of studying the global space is close to the traditional geographic endeavor of ‘mapping’ which aims to get an ‘accurate’ overview of cast stretches of space and thereby, yield ‘knowledge’ of or facilitate control over them.

The concept of the network society is closely associated with interpretation of the social implications of globalization and the role of electronic communications technologies in society. The definition of a network society given by the foremost theorist of the concept, Manuel Castells (2004 p. 3) is that it is ‘a society whose social structure is made up of networks powered by micro-electronics-based information and communications technologies.’ As Castells shows in his book, historically, there have always been social networks: the key factor that distinguishes the network society is that the use of ICTs helps to create and sustain far-flung networks in which new kinds of social relationships are created

According to Castells, three processes led to the emergence of this new social structure in the late 20th century:

  • The restructuring of industrial economies to accommodate an open market approach
  • The freedom-oriented cultural movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the civil rights movement, the feminist movement and the environmental movement
  • The revolution in information and communication technologies

Digital Research Diary

Week 3 – Researching Space

Monday 25th January 2016

In today’s lecture we learnt about the study of space, whether it is physical, virtual or representing it. We discovered we study pace for its power that allowed us to structure our experience of the world, which is around us.

Throughout the lecture we defined why we research space and how proving that the way we represent space is not just common sense but the dynamics of power and space as well. During the tutorial we spoke about last weeks task and Ginnie gave us a few pointers on which we should focus on more with this weeks task. She said we demonstrate basic skills very well and understand what we need to do well but we should focus on understand the differences between specific values of various research methods, and utilize key research methods in our approach.

This week’s task was to uncover the history of a space that we have chosen and find our what is it, where it comes from, how it is mapped and how we can produce cartography of the space. The second task is to disrupt the space.

We decided to meet over the weekend as most of my group had commitments with the other module due to the presentation. We met on Thursday Afternoon and discussed which space we wanted to do, we decided to go with Far Gosford Street as we thought it would have a lot of history for us to talk about. On Friday we met up and planned what our disruption would be and then went and filmed it.

Learning about Far Gosford Street’s history was probably the most interesting bit of the task for myself. As I found out that the street is one of the main streets, which survived WW1/2, the Blitz etc. It is also one of the many few streets, which actually still look the same to when it did 100 years ago as they just refurbished it to look nearly identical. This made me feel very lucky to live in such a wonderful city especially with all the history behind every street. Learning about Far Gosford Street’s history made me wonder what every other streets history is like not just in Coventry but all over the world, as you don’t really think that a street can have so much history but when you start learning about it, it really makes you think.

We decided that when people walk down the street and suddenly stop it is really annoying, so we thought that would be a great disruption of space as then other people walking by would have to go around us or even push past us.

We also thought if we stopped in a line and almost froze then it would also give a better effect of showing the disruption.

When we started filming we thought it would be good to show the road so we walked from Callice Court all the way up to Envisage. This footage is to show what we where filming and to help our audience understand where we where filming.

After we had got the footage of the street, we decided it was time to disrupt our space. Emma walked further down the street with the camera and we waited for people to be behind us for us to start walking, when we stopped we stopped in a line and froze. Emma said that she found it funny when the people behind stopped and then moved around us. We repeated this 4 times. The last go we were outside Callice Court and decided instead of walking to just block the pavement. We heard one girl say “what are they doing, this is so uncalled for” which was the reaction we wanted because it meant we were disrupting their space.

Most of the shots we used where focusing on one thing for example the camera focused on us walking down and stopping to then focus on how people reacted.

After we had finished filming we stopped and talked a bit to figure out what we were next going to do. Peter decided he wanted to edit everything from task 1 to task 2 but to get us to have a group discussion for task 2. I thought it be best if we had a voiceover of the history of Far Gosford Street and to have writing at the beginning of this task explaining our outcome, so then our ‘Behind the Scenes’ would be different. In the end we decided we would film a discussion to add at the end of this task.

Throughout the discussion we as a group all gave our thoughts on how the task went, if we portrayed disrupting a space well. It ended up with a good discussion of all of us speaking overt the top of one another due to all of us wanting to have a say on how we thought it went. In the end we all decided that we were focused and planned well with getting the job done well.

Between Democracy and Spectacle – The Front-end and Back-end of the Social Web


Techno-Utopia vs. Techno-Dystopia 


  • Analysis focuses on front-end

People control technology – for example when new technology comes out


  • Analysis focuses on back-end

Technology controls people – for example the effects of technology have on people.

Promise of “Web 2.0”

  • More Equality
  • More access
  • More collaboration

Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” (BOOK)

  • Before social media it was hard to get a community
  • Its so much more easier to communicate thanks to social media

“The web is what you make of it”

  • The advert suggests that the platforms are stable – you can set up a general account and a YouTube account, and years later it will still exist. But we all know this isn’t completely true, there is no guarantee that what you put up on the web now can exist in 5 years time.

“The characteristic limitations of this type of analysis are present in the four assertions that run through the book (by Shirky)”

The downsides of Web 2.0

  • Crowdsourcing as free labor (e.g. Yelp is a reviewing company) – people contribute their knowledge and perform an activity which could be called ‘free labor”
  • “Authentic” participation has hidden goals –
  • Wikipedia bias – for example companies go onto the page and try to edit it.

“If we take the creation of voluntary communities and the provision of new infrastructures as the twin dimensions of the social web, we can see that the phenomenon as a whole is characterized by two contradictory dynamics”

“One is decentralized, ad hoc, cheap, easy to use, community oriented and transparent – for example twitter you can ether show your tweets to the world or keep them private.”

“The other is centralized, based on long-term planning, very expensive, difficult to run, corporate and opaque “

“If the personal blog symbolizes one side, the data center represents the other.”

  • Without data meant there would be no blogs

“All the trappings of conventional organizations, with their hierarchies, formal policies, and orientation toward money, which are supposed to be irrelevant on the front end and dominant on the back end”

“Thus, there is a tension at the core of the social web created by the uneasy (mis) match of the commercial interests that rule the back-end and community interests advanced through the front-end. The communities are embedded within privately owned environments so that users, usually unaware of the problem, are faced with a take-it-or-leave-it decision” (249)

The surveillance economy

  • You are the product – for example Facebook is free but uses your details to promote their product to other people your age.

“Every activity online generates a trace that can be gathered and compiled, and companies go to great length making sure that traces are generated in a manner that they can gather” (250)

Real-time tracking is a new form of power.

  • Should it remain in private hands?

“Code is law” Lawrence Lessig

 Conclusion and Solutions

  • Neither Utopia nor dystopia
  • Always consider front and back end
  • Ask for
    • New legislation
    • More access to the back end

“We must own the goddamn server” if you want to ensure that your community is stable, you have to control the back-end as much as you can. If you own your own server, you have some control over the stability – you can set your own terms of service – you can give some sort of security to the content, which is being stored.

Digital Research Diary

Week 4 – Researching the Digital

Monday 1st February 2016


In today’s lecture we learnt about the study of the digital between the front end and back end of the social web. We learnt that Techno-utopia focuses on the front-end; this is where people control technology where as the techno-dystopia focuses on the back-end, which allows technology to control people.

Throughout the lecture we defined what researching the digital is and which one people more focus on. We discovered that many people just focus on the front end of the social web because it is the most easiest to remember however if you want to get the full potential of the social web you would have to focus on both aspects as then you get a different momentum.

After the lecture we went to our tutorial session, which was focusing on researching space. Ginnie said that our idea was very simplistic which is good because stopping in front of people isn’t a big change but it is a common change which people do every day so our idea focuses on how people react to the situation.

This week’s task was to make a vlog about “being a media student”. We would have to focus on the technical aspects, the content and the structure.
My group decided to do our vlogs individually, to then have group discussions over what we did and why we did that. We also thought that doing them individually would be interesting because it would show all our different interpretations on what we think a vlog is.

I did some research into vlogs and YouTuber’s, my main Youtuber was Zoella as I know she is a popular Youtuber and that she is very much looked up to, to the younger generation. As our topic was “being a media student” I thought if I aimed my audience to a younger audience who wanted an upbeat and casual vlogger that I would gain a much bigger interest as I am almost giving advice to them about why to take Media and Communications.

I focused on talking about all the positive things such as only having uni twice a week or the tasks we do such as filming and writing or the fact you get a free laptop at the beginning of term. I thought if I aimed it positively more people would be interested so then my viewers would be diverse.

I also showed them some work that we had to do and the blog we had to make at the beginning of term, which focuses on having all the work, I have done throughout the year.

Before we all went away to do our filming we decided after our seminar on Monday to film the idea of what we wanted to do. For example we had a group discussion about why we decided to do it individually and what we think will come out of doing it individually.

We then met up over the weekend to have a final discussion over how we thought it went doing it individually. The only challenge what how we were going to incorporate theory into the final discussion as we thought it would be best to have the theory in the end of the discussion to sum up the whole idea of this task.

We also decided to do a challenge, as a group because we thought it would be fun and interesting. The challenge was called ‘say anything challenge’. This challenge we linked back to Media so we focused on just using media terms such as social media we would link to Facebook or twitter or a theorist such as Judith Butler. This was a fun exercise and we thought it would show us having a entertaining vlog together.

This weeks task was very fun as it allowed us to all use premier pro and use our set of skills to our highest advantage and it also allowed us to focus on being on our own instead of relying on the group.

Researching the Visual: Television


Analyzing Television:

  • A multifaceted medium needs
  • A multifaceted approach

Circuit of Culture Model

Commercial Industry:

  • An enormously profitable industry, grossing over $100 billion annually through advertising, cable fees, DVD, sales and other sources of revenue.

Democratic Institution:

  • Part of democracy, informing America citizens and serving their public interests through news and electoral coverage, and governed by public policy divisions and regulations.

Textual Form and Technology:

  • A unique creative form, with a distinct narrative structure and set of genres that distinguish it from other media
  • A technology, serving as the central screen for a number of digital entertainment and information media in the home, from DVDs to videogames.

Sit of Cultural Representation:

  • A mirror of our world, offering an often-distorted vision of national identity, as well as shaping our perceptions of various groups of people.
  • This is simplified idea of representation; a more in depth theory of representation goes beyond thinking of media images as mirroring the world.

Aspect of Everyday Life:

  • A part of our lives, as viewing and talking about television plays a central but under examined role in our everyday routine.

A Note on History

The Classic Network Era, 1940s – 1980s

  • Became a mass medium
  • Network system – 3 networks – audience watched shows together as a mass audience.

The Multi-Channel era, 1980s – 1990s

  • Cable network – Ted Turner
  • People TV came about
  • VCR – taping a TV show if you couldn’t watch it live

The Convergence Era, 2000 – today

  • A range of digital technologies – laptops etc
  • TV in the U.S. has always been a commercial era

Representation and Reality

  • Present or depict
    • Process of construction of media images
  • Stand in or Mirror
    • Stereotypes
    • Positive/negative images
    • Insufficiently complex

Reality and representation are mutually constitutive.

“Reality is slippery, not fixed or known at all”

“Representation does not occur after the event, but becomes part of (constitutive) of the event itself”


  • TV can project an image of reality that not only doesn’t match up with reality but that obscures the important parts of everyday, lived experience.
  • Task of TV/Media analysis is NOT to measure the gap between reality and representation but to understand how meaning is produced through representation.
    • All the conventions and demands TV adheres to remove it even further from reality: camera placement, editing genre, FCC regulations, and advertising.
    • TV is a medium: it can always only re-present reality, but never capture it.
      • That’s why it is problematic to make statements like ‘This show is real” or “This show is so realistic”
      • Instead ask, “Who is being represented in what ways? Who is being left out of the picture? What is portrayed as “normal”? What counts as “everyday life”?

Analyzing Representation: Diversity

  • Meaningful Diversity: Yes or No?
    • Are the characters of colour fully realized individuals?
      • Whose families, home life, or inner worlds do we get to know? Whose motivations and development are we meant to follow?
    • Do the writers and producers appear knowledgeable about and interested in the worlds and perspectives of the non-white characters?
    • Does the diversity of the cast appear natural?
      • Given that cities and neighborhoods still are racially divided in the U.S. more often than not, giving every white lead a best friend of colour without realistic explanation typically comes across as unrealistic and gimmicky
    • Do the series of film producers exploit natural diversity of a story’s setting or subject matter?
      • This could take the form of populating the cast in accordance with the diversity of the region or of the career the characters engage in.

Digital Research Diary

Week 5 – Researching the Visual

Monday 8th February 2016

In today’s lecture and seminar we focused on the visualization of television and learned that television can have a multifaceted medium needs and a multifaceted approach. This comes from the Circle of Culture Model, which consists of commercial industry, democratic institution, textual form and technology; sit of cultural representation and the aspect of everyday life.

Throughout the lecture we defined what the visual representation of television is. TV can project an image of reality that not only doesn’t match up with reality but that obscures the important parts of everyday, lived experience. Further conventions and demands on TV adhere to remove it even further from reality. TV is a medium it can always only represent reality but never capture it.

During the tutorial we talked about our vlogs last week and how we all captured different ideas. Ginnie said our idea was good but would like to obviously see the technology side of it instead of having a discussion, however she said a discussion is good as well.

Throughout the seminar we focused on rewriting the Circle of Culture Model sub titles into our own work. Which lead into a group discussion and how we all saw the visualization of TV. We also focused on broadcasts on TV; we had to pick a topic that has happened on TV. My group decided to choose Madonna falling down the stairs at the Brit Awards, it was broadcasted on ITV and it was happening live so they could edit it out or stops the show.

This week’s group task is too analyzing a fictional TV program of our choice. My group decided to look at Skins. Skins is a British TV Series, which is aired on E4. With this we had to determine whether its representation of diversity could be considered meaningful based on Mary Beltran’s theory. We decided to look up a bit of background research on diversity in Skins, for example Series 4 – Emily comes out as a lesbian and when Thomas is introduced from him travelling from Congo both of these are diversity just different. Sexual diversity as Emily is gay and Racial Diversity. We found that series 1 and 3 are very similar with the sense they follow Tony and his friends then Effy and his friends as if the director wants to stay with the family and that series 5 was an different cast, almost brand new start with the characters who were very strange and we would have to follow to understand them.

With this task we all read through the theory from Mary Beltran and wrote down notes, we got this on record as we were discussing what were reading as well which made it more clearer for us as students. We then decided to watch a bit of the program; we watched the introduction and how it was shown. This then was stopped and led into a further discussion about how it works and doesn’t work. I felt it didn’t represent the diversity of Mary Beltrans theory because the program focuses on an interesting beginning which grabs the audience’s attention. This is only because the episode we first looked at just focused on the main character ‘Effy’ who is a young white girl, which obviously stereotypes young females.

After this episode we stopped it to have a full discussion on how we thought it worked etc. I said that the programme is focused on main issues for example mental illness however you don’t see this problem at the first season with each new cast it’s the second season with them where the problems begin. With the programme focusing on mental illness it allows the audience to see the problems and for the programme to bring awareness for the illness. The melodramatic performances makes the illnesses look 10 times worse then they actually are, thus showing how the illness can develop over time.

As we went onto to film parts of the programme with discussion over the top and discussion being shown we noticed that the program does focus on Mary Beltran’s theory, allowing a narration over the top of the programme allows the audience to see what we are discussing straight away.

This task was really fun as I love the programme skins and discussing it and breaking it down allowed me to see the problems people can face in real life

The Great Interview



The number one characteristic of a great interview, above and beyond all else, is that it is like a conversation. Great conversations, like great interviews are rare. But when they happen, you come away having learned something beneath the surface of the person with whom you are talking.


Great interviewers are able to “hear” data. By this it is meant that they have an “ear” for what respondents are saying; they follow and concentrate on what is said and not sad and they pick out clues for what other questions to ask.

Find all that your ate finds important:

A great interview explores meaning. What meaning do your respondents assign to what they are saying?


The only way to uncover meaning is through detail – the fourth characteristic of a great interview. Great interviews are very detailed. Not so good interviews are general. The great interviewer compels interviewees to be doggedly detailed – this is the only way true understanding will emerge.

Sometimes remain quiet when your date is quiet:

This is also known as the “silent probe”. In response to (often sensitive) questions that merit an extended response, respondents will be brief again the inclination is to speak in generalities not in detail. One of the best strategies to follow when this occurs is to re-state or re-phrase the questions, and then sit quietly until your date opens up.


The practice of probing and finding one’s way to someone else’s “core” develops form-cultivated persistence. An interviewer will routinely need to ask sub-questions. At other times an interviewer will need to ask questions in different tones of voice.

Play the innocent sometimes:

An instrumental manifestation of persistence that often opens people up is the practice of playing the innocent, also known as appealing to their altruism – making people want to help you. Most people want to be helpful – they have agreed to be interviewed – and they especially want to be helpful if you appeal to their altruistic tendencies.

Don’t stay out all night; don’t come home too early:

Great interviews are not short nor are they excessively long. If one executes all of these strategies well, a great interview normally runs no shorter than an hour. The outer limit of great interviews is more difficult to gauge but the level of meaning and detail achieved through responses are a testable guide.

Word questions clearly:

You want your date to understand you, insofar as the questions you ask are concerned. The interviewer who is verbose on the one hand or truncated on the other is confusing. On the part of the interview, such confusion can create uncertainty, ill-confidence and even annoyance – a date-gone bad.

Sequence your move:

A great interview, like a great time out with a date, is structured by questions that are well sequenced. A great interview is not a random mix of questions in which the last question can be asked first the first last and so on; the great interview is strategically organized and planned.

Divide conversations into topical stages:

Questions are sequenced and are larger, more encompassing topical area among which they should ideally be divided. An interview with twenty questions might have five sections each with four questions. The subject that there questions address, and these sections follow a progression of heating up and then cooling down can label the sections.

Be Balanced:

If we were more often balanced in the questions we asked of the people we have studied Goffman would have had no need to encourage sleeping around. Its those difficult to reach, hidden sides that are undoubtedly large and consequential, not only for the individual but also for the social order that too easily escape inspection, even by those whose professional business it is to inspect society.

Be Candid:

While many questions in an interview will be easy to answer, we must develop the muscle to ask the hard questions. If we fail to be candid we will not get to the detail and meaning that make up people’s lives. Great conversations are not all about pleasantries and niceties.

Preserve the integrity of meeting someone new:

Candor is made possible by integrity. In the case of interviews, this involves the exercise of conduct, formal and informal, spoken and unspoken that works to preserve functional orderliness to the interview.

Show respect:

While the interviewer preserves the integrity of interviews by possessing authority over how they are run, the interviewer at the same time shows respect for the respondent, what the respondent says the setting in which the respondent speaks, and all other aspects of the interview.

Embody detached concern:

You want to get to know your dat4e deeply and minimizing the amount of unproductive influence, or interview bias moves you closer to accomplishing that goal. Interviews are does into a metaphoric sense of divulging personal intimacies and are “cared for” in the course of revealing them.

Test your questions beforehand:

Great interviewing involves piloting. Try out the questions to be used on some sample of people before moving ahead with the research.


Anticipate how your date will go, and what you will say and do. This means: know your questions, a great interviewer has a very good sense of the questions both main and probe comprises the interview.

Don’t date members of your own family:

Avoid interviewing people you know, expect if a very particular kind of research design calls for it. Talk to strangers because they are more apt to share their secrets then re the people you know.

Start off on a strong note:

Part of sequencing involved having a good introduction.

End on a positive note:

Conclude questions or set questions that “cool down” the respondent can follow by an effusive, sincere thank you are the end.

Bring the memory of your date home:

Many insights are readily available during and immediately after interviewing; they are also readily lost is not noted. Note taking during an interview is often distracting for the respondent and disrupts the natural flow of the conversation.

Tape recorded:

All kinds of data are lost without tape-recording: the narrative itself, intonation, nuance, and meaning, sequence. Some people will claim that in some instances tape recording is obtrusive or is not feasible given the type of interview you are giving.

Carry on long distance only as a last resort:

Telephone interviews are difficult to manage; the situation is not easy to control as when face to face with a date; breakdowns and misunderstanding in communication easily arise simply by being apart.

Practice, practice, practice:

A good interviewer comes with PRACTICE.

Digital Research Diary

Week 6 – Researching People

Monday 15th February 2016

In todays lecture we learnt about types of interviews people use in everyday life. We learnt that an interview is a special type of conversation; it differs from survey research, which has fixed questions, to interviews, which can be practiced to random.

Interviews can consist of being unscripted or structure however the role of an interview is to be the one who is talking whereas the one who taking the interview is just listening.

We learnt how to build a topic guide which consists of “topic” based questions whilst expanding the questions to other questions allowing the interviewee to get into more depth whilst talking.

During the Tutorial we spoke about the last task, which Ginnie said we did really well however we need to record less footage and to be bit more brutal with the editing.

This week’s task is to focus on social media and friendships we have to decide to make a focus group or interview people.
With my group we wanted to do a focus group as we felt it would better and people will be much more comfortable talking with other people in the room as well plus we thought it would gain a great discussion however finding people was very difficult and nobody wanted to help out and come to the time we had set so the focus group didn’t work.

We advertised it on Facebook and word and mouth however nobody commented on any of our posts or agreed via word and mouth. Honestly we didn’t work that hard to gain a focus group however we didn’t know what the task was till Monday and we booked a library room for Tuesday in preparation for the task.

Whilst wanting to do a focus group, we agreed it would be easier to do an interview with this we all went out to find a person to interview. We created a set of questions to ask the interviewee in which we felt they would not get embarrassed or feel uncomfortable to then want to stop the interview. Whilst we were in the library we interviewed one of Hazels friends. He spoke about using mainly Facebook to get connections, and that he hasn’t had any bad experiences. Hazel’s interview was very stop start, it didn’t really flow.

After we met up I went back home and interviewed one of my friends. We got into a conversation; we allowed the interview to flow instead of it being question after question. This let us go more into depth with the conversation instead of it being stop start.

Having more then one interview allowed us to compare and contrast on the topic which allowed us as a group to get into a conversation about interviews and what we think worked best.

Sensory Notes

What are our senses?

What is sensory?

The Aristotelian Hierarchical order of the senses:

  • Sight – human
  • Hearing – human
  • Smell – human
  • Taste – animal
  • Touch – animal

We have more then 5 senses:

  • Thermoceptions – sense of temperature
  • Equilibrioception – sense of balance
  • Proprioception – sense of where our limbs are
  • Interception – sense of what our organs are doing and/or need
  • Temporal Perception – sense of time
  • Nociception – sense of pain

The Western bias

  • Sight is seen as ‘the most formative’ and intellectual of the sense

What position do you think the other senses have in the hierarchy?

Senses in a cultural context (Classen, 1991)

  • Critique of visual reductionism
  • Is there a natural order of sense?
  • Is that order historically specific
  • Do human beings naturally prefer some colours or taste or sounds to others?
  • Are all of our likes and dislikes conditioned by culture?

Habitus and Taste

  • Pierre Bourdieu says family background/upbringing combines with education too produce a ‘habitus’
  • A habitus is ‘a system of durable acquired schemes of perception’ (Bourdieu, Distinction, p. 171)
  • The concept of habitus shows how early, learned dispositions become embodied. We literally see, taste and feel things in particular ways because of it.

Sensory Ethnography

Recognizes the researcher as part of a ‘social, sensory and material environment’ (Pink, 25)

Sensory research has considered how sensorial experiences interact with and influence…

  • Social Interactions (Simmel 1997, Howes 2003: Low 2005)
  • Physical environments (Porteous 1990: Ingold 2000)
  • Memories (Seremtakis, 1994: Suon 2001)

What do we mean by sensory experience?

Bodily Experience

Unplanned and naturally occurring

The feeling of the fibers of the soft woolen banket (Turan 1993)

Mental Experience

A conscious creation

‘Mere’ Experience

The stuff that is generally happening

  • I wake up, check my phone, go to work etc

‘An’ Experience

An event with a start and an end

  • My 18th Birthday
  • Prom

Embodiment: Moving away from dichotomous thinking

  • Concept of embodiment tried to remove this perceived divide between body and mind.
  • The body is more than a source of experience that is then rationalized and understood by the mind.
  • The body as a source of knowledge and agency.
  • However, according to Csordas ‘our bodies may become objectified through processes of reflection’

Embodiment is a process

When we say experiences are ‘embodied’ we mean that we both learn and discover things through our entire bodies. We learn things bodily not just mentally. For example you can be able to drive a car but cant play a violin.


Embodiment – integration of body and mind

Emplacement – integration of body-mind-environment

When conducting sensory ethnography we should acknowledge our own emplacement and the emplacement of others in the fieldsite.

So, sensory ethnography is based upon an understanding of the senses as interconnected and interrelated.

Ethnographic fieldwork takes place within a space and is a matter of embodied/emplaced experiences.

Sensory ‘ethnographic practice entails our multisensoial embodied engagements with others’ (perhaps through participation in activates, or exploring their understanding in part verbally) and with their social, material, discursive and sensory environment. It also requires us to reflect on those engagements, to conceptualize their meanings theoretically and to seek ways to communicate the relatedness of experiential and intellectual meanings to others’ (Pink 25-26)


Knowledge acquisition is a social, participatory and embodied practice

  • e. learning how to do something is about watching people, being taught, trying things our, practicing etc.

Knowledge is gained through participation and so knowledge is not brought about from within

Thus to ‘know’ what others ‘know’ we must ‘do’ what they ‘do’.

Digital Research Diary

Week 7 – Researching the Sensory

Monday 22nd February 2016

In today’s lecture we focused on the senses and got told that we have more than 5 senses. We learnt that sight is seen as ‘the most formative’ and intellectual of the sense. Throughout the lecture we defined what the different senses where and how we can tell when they are happening. We also learned about the Embodiment which meanswe mean that we both learn and discover things through our entire bodies. We learn things bodily not just mentally. For example you can be able to drive a car but cant play the violin.

During the tutorial we talked about last week’s task aGinnie said our idea was good but would like to obviously see the technology side of it instead of having a discussion, however she said a discussion is good as well.

Throughout the seminar we focused on participating in a bodily way. For example if we looked at what types of people do drag racing actually getting into a drag car will give us an understanding of what it feels like to do drag racing. We learnt that sensory ethnographers are trying to find out what people really feel like. In order to do this they need to be with them so they can understand their environment. There is a level of bias with this. Where is the limit? (studying cocaine use, it would be harmful to take part in drug use).

This weeks group task is to identify ‘a smell’ that is significant and meaningful. My group decided to focus on coins/cash. This is because we thought the smell is very coopery and that everyone needs money in life because money helps you survive. We also though that money is very culturally diverse due to every country having their own currency.

We had a discussion on how it made us feel, why it makes us feel like that etc. I explained that money makes me happy because i feel like I am rich even though I am in my over draft when I have money out in my purse I feel good. However, money to me smells dirty due to me knowing that everyone has touched the coins or cash.

We created a visual representation of the money by dropping them on the table and letting it make the noise of dropping coins. We then span the coins which was really amusing. We thought the noise would be a visual representation of money to everyone as the sound of dropping coins does simplify coins.

This task was really fun as our whole group explained how they felt about money/what they think the smell of money is like.