Sharing is Caring: Ethnography

Ethnography? Huh?

Yeah… that’s exactly what I though when I first heard it too. So what is ethnography and why should we care? Well they are the questions that I’m answering today, and more specifically how collaborative ethnographic research can be used to analyse contemporary media used in the home.

As a media student, I hear a lot about and perform collaborative research often. For those of you who don’t know, collaborative research is the working and coming together with other people in order to achieve a shared result or outcome. Well as I now know, the term ‘ethnography’ plays a large role in this type of research.

Ethnography can be defined as the “study of social interactions, behaviours, and perceptions that occur within groups, teams, organisations, and communities.” The aim or goal of ethnography is to provide detailed insight into people’s views opinions and actions, as well as the culture, sights and sounds of the location that they live, through information from detailed observations and interviews (BMJ,2008)

Simplified definition: https://swelldiabetes.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/ethnography-simplified.png
Simplified definition: https://swelldiabetes.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/ethnography-simplified.png

To obtain the best results possible, researchers should aim to work collaboratively. Participating in collaborative ethnography helps bring in a qualitative or personal angle to research in order to compliment quantitative data and allows the audience to obtain more information to analyse results and findings.

But is ethnography a good form of research when discussing contemporary media used in the home? I will discuss this is relation to two articles that I analysed in class today.

tv-laptop-phone-mulitasking
Media use in homes: http://gadgetynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/tv-laptop-phone-mulitasking.jpg
Example Table in the Nile & Hillygus article
Example Table in the Nile & Hillygus article

Firstly, Nile & Hillygus (2005) conducted a research article ‘the impact of internet use on sociability: time- diary findings’. The article “explores the complex ways in which the Internet affects interpersonal communication and sociability.” (Nile & Hillygus, 2005) They use a ‘time-diary’ method to analyse whether internet usage in homes is in fact replacing face-to-face social time with others. This method of documenting was highly detailed, regularly recording participants online activity, but was quite impersonal and factual. It did not feature any ethnography research and was therefore lacking in the ‘why’ and ‘how’ elements of the article. An ethnographic approach to this article would allow audiences to understand their reasoning and cultural influences within the trends.

Example of OZTAM Table
Example of OZTAM Table

Secondly, OZTAM’s article, ‘The Australian Multiscreen report’  aims to update audiences of new household technologies and trends in major age groups who view media. This article is useful in demonstrating a broad view of contemporary media in the home through the use of quantitative data but leaves the audience asking questions and doesn’t add that personal approach. In this case, ethnographic research could add to the article by being able to question the age groups and their views behind the media devices that they use and why they use them, giving better insight into these trends.

Researchers can perform ethnographic research by conducting interviews both one-on-one and focus groups, conduct surveys or through observation.

From these articles, it can be seen that quantitative data provides accurate data but without the collaboration of ethnographic research fails to include a personal approach. It can be concluded that collaborative ethnographic research is an important component in research, as it considers the affects of cultural, social and lifestyle influences and how this can affect media usage in homes around Australia.


References:

BMJ 2008, ‘Qualitative research methodologies: ethnography’, thebmj.com, viewed on 19 August 2015, <http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1020&gt;

Nile, N.H., Hillygus, D.S. 2002, ‘The Impact of Internet Use on Sociability: Time-Diary Findings’,  IT&Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 01-20.

Regional TAM, OzTAM, Nielsen 2015, Australian Multi-Screen Report, OzTAM, viewed 19 August 2015,
http://www.oztam.com.au/documents/Other/MultiScreenReport_Q1-2015-Final%20amended%20P7.pdf

Terry’s Childhood: Growing up among TV’s major developments.

He squints his eyes and taps his fingers- thinking hard about the days of television that seem so long ago. Back to a time where the best entertainment meant wrestling with your siblings and talking to your friends meant meeting up at the local park. It’s hard for me to truly understand and appreciate what things were like back then when today we are all immersed in such a technologically advanced world. Television these days are a household standard and people of all ages are entertained by the increased television culture. Growing up alongside the major developments in the history of television, dad helps to paint the picture for me.

The 60’s were the childhood years where my dad lived in a little white home in Sydney’s Gymea Bay. He spent his time with his parents; June and Les, and 2 brothers; Gary and Lee, as well as a dog, 2 ducks and chickens. In the living room, parallel to the front door, features a chunky black television that is held up four legs. The TV buzzes on with the black and white static screen. Using the round dial, you would have the choice between 4 different channels that would display a black and white picture.

1950's Television: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Music/Pix/pictures/2011/8/25/1314286928097/1950s-television-set-006.jpg
1950’s Television: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Music/Pix/pictures/2011/8/25/1314286928097/1950s-television-set-006.jpg

Dad recalls his fondest memories around the television, his brothers and himself would lay on the floor in-front of the lounge (since when is the floor comfier than the couch?) and watch cartoons like Bugs Bunny. He also watched shows like Get Smart and Gilligan’s Island but only when his parents didn’t watch TV. He says “My parents always chose what to watch- it was usually educational stuff but when they weren’t there we would always fight over what me and my brothers wanted to watch. We would always pick cartoons though”.

“Television was such a novelty, imagine not having your phone or your computer, you literally have nothing but the television for entertainment.” Dad says as he explains what it was like to have a TV when he was younger. “It was so popular and we wanted to watch it all the time but mum and dad were strict about it”. Trends in the times where dad watched television showed that he was only allowed to watch it at nighttime after dinner and definitely not while they ate dinner (doesn’t that suck!).  “Sunday night was always Disney. We would watch it for hours”, says dad about his favourite moments watching TV.

Most of dad’s childhood was seeing life through a black and white screen, until late teenage years when colour television began rolling out. “It was magic”, he says. “Thinking back now I can’t believe how long I was watching black and white television for. When it came out in colour, it was like everything came to life and the television was even more exciting”.

Back then, the importance that our culture placed on television was not nearly as high as it is now. Going from one household television to six, dad loves the new ease of entertainment although he does miss rolling around in the backyard and playing catch with his dog, Trixie.

Thanks dad, you’ve given me so much to think about! I guess I’ll go sit in front of the flat screen now and watch gossip girl.

For you 50’s babies, heres a blast from the past!

Heeeeeeeellllooo World! (well… bloggers)

Hello Blogosphere I’ve missed you!

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately but I’m back at it again! The next couple of months I’ll be talking a lot about media and media audiences.

For those of you who don’t know who I am yet…. my name is Tessa, or Tess. I’m 20 years old and currently studying a double degree of Journalism and Media and Communication Studies majoring in Marketing and Advertising. Phew that’s a mouthful. I’m in my second year and still have two and a half years to go (yeah i know what you’re  thinking…. ew).

I’m very involved in the media space and culture and have been for quite some years. It’s just one of those places where you can be everywhere at once and still be in your undies in bed at the same time. I’m constantly checking my phone. Even if there’s nothing new it’s just a habit. Like when you open the fridge and there’s nothing to eat and yet you keep opening the fridge. I check it when I wake up in the morning, before I go to sleep for an extended period of time and throughout the day I give it a heck every half hour or so to catch up on well… Life! So yeah, my life is definitely influence by media and the media space.

Through use of Facebook, Instagram, blogging, Snapchat, Tumblr and other forms of media I am regularly in a media ‘headspace’. Not only does social media play a dominant role in my life, so does television and more specifically TV shows and movies. I’m obsessed!!

I think media is extremely important in today’s society. It allows you to make connection to friends and family and with other people all over the world, is a quick and easy information source, allows you to express yourself and is a great form of entertainment!

The media has a broad effect in a lot of daily elements so stay tuned and join in the conversation!

Source: http://cdn.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/iStock_000009399688XSmall.jpg
Source: http://cdn.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/iStock_000009399688XSmall.jpg

Interview who?

In my tutorial, we did an exercise in which my had to conduct interviews with another class mate in groups of three. The main aim of the exercise was to learn how to develop a hypothesis, design related question while withholding the hypothesis and how to draw conclusions from the answers that were given. The other main aim was the present your information to the class in a way with keeps the interviewee’s identity hidden.

I was given a sheet with my research question on it. It related to the work ethics of students at UOW. From there I had to think about a hypothesis in which was specific, opinionated and inquisitive.

Fig 1. 'Work Ethic': http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_299/1218681184cUnRMT.jpg
Fig 1. ‘Work Ethic’: http://bit.ly/1bfFvtm

My hypothesis was:

“A student’s work ethic is subject to their attitudes towards the university work – If the student is interested in the topic than they will be more productive.”

I then did some research on the topic to help me decide on some of the questions that I was going to ask. I wanted to make sure that I had both qualitative and quantitative aspects in the questions to gather a well rounded research report. We had decide on a minimum of 6 questions. The questions that I constructed for my interview were:

  1. How much time do you dedicate to study?
  2. What behaviours do you believe determines a good work ethic?
  3. Do you place a high importance on study? How high is it on your list of priorities?
  4. When is your work ethic more productive?
  5. Do you believe being engaged in your study is an important aspect in succeeding at uni?
  6. How does your attitude towards the work affect your work ethic?

I then interviewed my subject and collected their answers. I was quite surprised with the answers as they were not quite as I expected.

The conclusions I drew from the interview were:

I have found the work ethic of my interviewee is subject to the amount of work that is to be done. If there is a major assignment or assessment that is due the interviewee will be more productive and dedicate more time to completing it. The amount of effort that they put into their study is equal among all subjects although they receive better marks for subjects they enjoy and understand.

Fig 2. 'Anonymous Interview': http://www.rmsresults.com/uploads/images/QualiSight/anonymous%20interview.jpg
Fig 2. ‘Anonymous Interview’: http://bit.ly/1OWIm8M

This exercise helped me personally in prepared for Assignment 2 and understand how connections are drawn. I was happy with what my results showed as it allowed me to have a better understand of my research question and indicates that I in fact got a accurate response from my interviewee as they were not swayed from knowing my hypothesis. The use of confidentiality really helped in developing accurate end results as it allowed the interviewee to be more accurate and inquisitive with their answers.

Counter-mapping: The community’s protester

Mapping is usually something that people use to get from one place to another. You type in Google Maps where you want to go and ‘wallah’ it tells you how to get there. You can also use maps to look for certain destinations or landmarks. The power of maps has been recently discovered and people are expanding their uses of them.

Counter-mapping.

What is counter-mapping? (That’s exactly what I was thinking). Well its a technique that challenges the perspectives of a place, space, or people. It is often created through collaborative community process and can also be called the ‘bottom-up’ method of protest. Counter-mapping techniques usually focus on political dilemmas, this caninclude:

  • territory and representation
  • surveillance
  • land rights
  • environmental and social justice
Fig 1. 'Counter-mapping within the community': http://newmedialab.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/CM-R-workshop1.jpg
Fig 1. ‘Counter-mapping within the community’: http://newmedialab.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/CM-R-workshop1.jpg

“It’s the new attitudes, visions, and radical philosophies of the counter-mappers that are really taking maps and mapmaking in a whole new direction, a direction with the potential to free maps at last from the tyranny of the state.” (Wood, 2010)

article-1272921-0979CB2C000005DC-799_634x433Google Earth is a system of virtual mapping. Counter-mapping on Google Earth is a way of systematically organising social change. Google Earth is used for place-framing and organising process where space can be transformed into a place to motivate action among citizens.

Google Earth works with Google Earth’s Outreach program to assist initiatives for different corporations. For example, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Google Earth work together to promote the cause of refugee aid. (Ewalt, 2010)

“Together with Google, UNHCR is putting refugees on the map – a virtual map – with a new Google Earth tour that shows UNHCR’s refugee camps across the globe. Claudia Gonzalez-Gisiger from UNHCR says the tour is a powerful way for everyone to get an insight into the desperate conditions in which refugees live” (Anderson & Lamy, 2009).


References:

Ewalt J, 2010, ‘Counter-Mapping as Place-Framing: Naturalized Injustice, De-Naturalized Community and Organizing for Social Change on Google Earth, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, viewed April 15th, <http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=commstuddiss&gt;

Anderson, H. F., & Lamy, F, 2007, A picture is worth millions of voices, <http://google-latlong.blogspot.com&gt;

Ethics: It’s the right choice ✓

Ethics are important. Even more so for those engaging in media research.  Its one of those things that people dread hearing about and is often something that people just look past.

Fig 1. 'Ethics': http://www.legalcheek.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ethics-meme.jpg
Fig 1. ‘Ethics’: http://www.legalcheek.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ethics-meme.jpg

This week, I have been investigating ethics and the importance that it has in media research.  The definition of the word ‘ethics’ is described as a moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity. To put it simply, it is the rules that determine wrong and right.

McCutcheon (2015) explains that one of the most significant things regarding ethics is its subjectivity. Ethics are controlled by different ideas and standards across differing political, legal and social systems, and can change drastically over time. She states that the purpose of these ethical  guidelines is to protect the welfare and rights of the participants in the research as well as to facilitate research of benefit to the wider community.

One recent case in of ethics in the media, is that of ‘Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge’. There has been uproar in the media after “at least 10 recipes from Bines’s online products have been identified as being exactly the same or slightly changed from those found on other food blogs with earlier dates- even one with the same photo” (Skene, 2015)

687233-ashy-bines
Fig 2.’Ashy Bines’: http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2013/12/13/1226782/687233-ashy-bines.jpg

This has been reported as a case of dishonest business ethics in which buyers of the program have been lead to believe it is all her work.
A wordpress has been set up called ‘Ashy Bines Exposed’, in which the author has created to expose her deficient ethics.
Hestia, the author of the blog states that “Yes Ashy is right, the more fitness professionals in the industry who help the public with their health and wellbeing the better. However there is one thing Ashy is missing, and that is being completely honest in her business, including doing the right things and taking responsibility.”

Ashy Bines has since spoken out in this video, relating to her ethics:


References:

McCutcheon, M. 2015, ‘Research ethics’, Lecture Week 3, BCM210: Research Practices in Media and Communication, UOW, 18/03/15

Skene, K. 2015, ‘Ashy Bines fearing trolls after discovery of at least 10 ripped-off recipes in her clean-eating plan’, The Courier Mail, viewed 8th April, <http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/ashy-bines-fearing-trolls-after-discovery-of-at-least-10-ripped-off-recipes-in-her-clean-eating-plan/story-fnihsrk2-1227293428768&gt;

Analysis: Social Media in the Arab World

The article that I am analysing, is one that relates to my research report- activism within social media. It is titled; Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011. The report discusses the use of social media in the Arab world and how this contributes to the events that were unfolding during the time as well as the challenges and limitation imposed by the authoritarian governments.

The report takes a close look at the online presence of the Arab World and how the social media sites, in particular Facebook, are starting to make changes in the way people are discovering, sharing and communicating information.
The report is split into many sections of research, covering the areas of:

  • Social Media and Challenges to Free Expression
  • Online News Gaining Readers
  • Social Media’s Youth Focus
  • Social Media and Social Unrest
  • The Debate About U.S. Support of Social Media
  • Tweeting Royals and Digital Ministers
  • Social Media’s Long-Term Impact

The research report is conducted by Jeffrey Ghannam and is a report that is directed towards the Center for International Media Assistance who work for evolution and change in the fields of news media and communications.

Fig 1. 'Social media use in the Arab world': http://onmedia.dw-akademie.de/english/files/tahrir-handy.jpeg
Fig 1. ‘Social media use in the Arab world’: http://onmedia.dw-akademie.de/english/files/tahrir-handy.jpeg

“From Morocco to Bahrain, the Arab world has witnessed the rise of an independent vibrant social media and steadily increasing citizen engagement on the Internet.” (Ghannam, 2011)

Although the report was initially developed for media development it has also been helpful for many academics and researchers who are interested in the topic. It also informs the general public, allowing them to see the effects and power that social media use had on bringing about social and political change in the Arab world. It provides relevant and interesting information that allows the reader to gain knowledge on the issue and think about the effect that social media has on the world around them.
The report was published at a time where the Arab countries were rapidly uprising, with events such as the ‘Arab Springs‘. A topic in which many people were interested in.

Fig 2. 'Social media statistics': http://snd1.splashpress1.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/4.png
Fig 2. ‘Social media statistics’: http://snd1.splashpress1.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/4.png

The research used was mainly qualitative data. They used this for findings of social media usage in the Arab World and used these statistics to draw conclusions and make predictions for the future. The basis of the report relays many statistics  that contribute to the research question. It is an element in which they can measure and create results from.  Qualitative data is assessed through the use of case studies within the report. Using both these elements creates a report that is factual and accurate. Although, the report could contain more qualitative data in the form of research.

The report includes a key findings page in which goes into detail through analysing and evaluating the data that had been collected. It also includes an appendix where the raw statistics are presented. The report draws on events that are occurring during the period of times and uses the statistics to relate to these.

“Just as Arab satellite channels helped revolutionize broadcast news, social media is arguably changing the nature of news and community engagement.” Ghannam (2011)

Overall, the report is very informative and interesting. Ghannam touches on many different topics throughout the report in which a reader can easily navigate. It provides a good general overview of many aspects of social media activism in the Middle East.

For those of you who are interested in the topic, there are many complimentary articles that can be found on the internet. Here is also a video, explain a lot about activism and social media in the Arab World:


References

Ghannam J, 2011, ‘Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011’, The Center for International Media Assistance, viewed 25th March, <http://www.databank.com.lb/docs/Social%20Media%20in%20the%20Arab%20World%20Leading%20up%20to%20the%20Uprisings%20of%202011.pdf&gt;