BCM210 Research Proposal: Safe Spaces at Uni

For my project I propose to conduct first hand research surrounding safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ students in our university. The primary question of this research is: how effective are safe spaces in our university setting? The aim is to use a number of research questions to determine the effectiveness of these spaces. This will include building a definition of a safe space with the help of students who use and help actualise safe spaces in the university and determining the extent to which safe spaces around the university are easily identifiable and succeed in their aims. This will incorporate emphasis on stickers and signs that declare public spaces, such as the library, as safe spaces and whether this is a claim that can be supported. By asking students how they feel about such labels declaring safe spaces, as well as speaking to library staff about how they uphold the safety of those utilising the space, I aim to find out how reliable and appreciated safe spaces around the university are.

The research method will use qualitative questionnaires, preferably conducted through in person interviews although written answers would also be an effective collection method if coordinating interview time with people is not possible due to my limited time on campus. In addition to thoughts on the definition of safe space, questions that may be used include the influence of the university context on the effectiveness of the safe space, identifying safe spaces around the university and ascertaining which spaces students utilise.

I have found several articles about research surrounding safe spaces, especially in relation to LGBTQI+ youth and the importance of having a safe space in removing a sense of isolation and developing identity. One journal article focuses specifically on the importance of libraries as a place of free and equal access to information where LGBTQIA+ people can access information and be treated with respect while connecting to the wider community, especially in remote areas (Day, 2013). The article discusses the importance of providing people with the knowledge that they are not alone by providing posters and reading lists that support LGBTQIA+ people and attempt to educate the general public (Day, 2013). My research intention is to find out if strategies such as this are effective.

Two other articles outline the importance of alliances, peer support and safe spaces in high schools (Fetner et al, 2012; Ratts et al, 2013). These articles are focused on American and Canadian students that are obviously younger than university students but both highlight the importance of effective safe spaces in learning environments (Fetner et al, 2012; Ratts et al, 2013). A British study interviewed students about feeling different, isolated, and unable to find others like themselves as well as the positive effect a safe space can have (Crowley et al, 2007).

This range of articles show that research surrounding safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people is a vast area of interest to a range of people and qualitative research methods are common in finding the feelings of people that use these areas (Day, 2013; Fetner et al, 2012; Ratts et al, 2013; Crowley et al, 2007). I have not yet found research specific to Australian universities and am interested in developing my own understanding of this area through this research project. This could also have the potential of helping groups in the university who coordinate and promote safe spaces by increasing knowledge on how students view safe spaces and how to make safe spaces more noticeable and effective or continue to support existing spaces that already fulfil the goals of a safe space at university.

 

References

Day, S 2013, ‘Libraries as LGBTIQ Venues’, Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 46-50.

Fetner, T, Elafros, A, Bortolin, S & Drechsler, C 2012, ‘Safe spaces: gay-straight alliances in high school’, Canadian Review of Sociology, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 188-207.

Ratts, MJ, Kaloper, M, McReady, C, Tighe, L, Butler, SK, Dempsey, K & McCullough, J 2013, ‘Safe Space Programs in k-12 schools: creating a visible presence of LGBTQ allies’, Journal of LGBT Issues in Counselling, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 387-404.

Crowley, C, Harre, R & Lunt, I 2007, ‘Safe Spaces and Sense of Identity: Views and Experiences of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People’, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, vol. 11, no. ½, pp. 127-143.

 

 

 

Is it Time to Give Up on Australian Content?

This is a many faceted question, with even more possible answers. This blog supports the view that it is not time to give up on Australian content.

History shows some spectacular successes and spectacular failures from the Australian film industry. If industry leaders and new comers were to follow the ideas of the success stories then there would, in all likelihood, be less failures.

Statistics show that Australia does want a film industry. In 2011, Screen Australia commissioned qualitative research on how Australians of a range of ages and film consumption feel about Australian films. This research found that seventy five percent of respondents said they would miss the Australian film industry if it were to disappear. Seventy nine percent said the film industry contributed to Australian identity to some degree. The most popular reason that respondents felt for needing an Australian film industry was to ensure that Australia is not overwhelmed by American culture. This was closely followed by recognition of employment opportunities and the desire for Australian events and history to be recorded and passed on.

These findings indicate that it is not time to give up on Australian content, as keeping Australian identity prevalent providing employment opportunities as important. Unfortunately, it appears that Australians still do not want to pay for these films. This problem can be improved by the producers, however, as they try new ways to distribute films. Relying on traditional release has been a continuing issue for Australian content producers, as even critically acclaimed films that secure prestigious slots at film festivals such as Canne and Sundance such limited cinema release and empty theatres. There have been attempts at different release strategies such as television, DVD or digital download release, or by turning the release into an event with Q&As with cast and crew, intermissions and so forth.

The time to give up on Australian content has not yet come, but the time to change how Australian content is released to the public has. Improvements in this area by producers will improve the viability of Australian content. Research does indicate that Australians are not prepared to lose their film industry, which should be a strong reason for producers to not give up either.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things can be defined as a “computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.” Consumers and developers find this simultaneously exciting and terrifying. This article discusses a survey that asks how Americans react to the Internet of things. Three in four respondents had not heard of the term but once they had it explained it to them, they were excited by the idea. The survey found that the most highly anticipated products are cars and smart home appliances.

This blog offers the idea that by 2015, 75 percent of the world’s population have access to the internet, as will around six billion devices.

A major factor about the Internet of Things is that it provides a large amount of useful data. Consumers can see how they utilise their products and creators and marketors can see the same and find ways of bettering this service.

There are some less positive implications, however. There is some worries that security and privacy are being treated as an afterthought. Admittedly I find it slightly concerning that my phone may know more about me than I do. But then again, it already knows more phone numbers than I ever could remember and knows maths and computing information that I never could. So is it all that different when it is holding more personal information? I certainly do not see humanity becoming overly attached to our technology, like this article where it is predicted that objects will become first class citizens.

The Damage of Hacking

There is a difference between putting out information about the government who have killed innocent people (eg Wikileaks and the Collateral Murder video) and putting out the information of innocent internet users.

LulzSec is an example of hacking that had the intention and success of embarrassing commercial enterprises by taking users’ information and publishing it online. It is an example of not considering the consequences or impact on everyday people. However, it was the very humanising actions of LulzSec member, Monsegur, which brought the end of the group.

LulzSec was a group of hackers from across the world who did not know each other outside of virtual life. They hacked numerous commercial companies, including X Factor, PBS and the Sony PlayStation network. In each case, the identities and private information of those who had interacted with the site. While Lulzec claimed that the security of the companies should be able to protect them, it was still an unfair and expensive attack to fix.

Monsegur, a member of LulzSec, was caught by the FBI and cooperated so as to remain the carer of his nieces. The hacking largely performed by LulzSec was portrayed as uncaring and inconsiderate to individual human desires for privacy, yet, when faced with the choice of getting the other members of LulzSec caught and caring for family, Monsegur chose the latter. This is interesting to me, as it shows the divide between what was considered harmless in the virtual world and what was physically and tangibly important – in this case, the welfare of family.

Hacking can be seen as an important whistle blowing exercise where exposing information is considered to be beneficial (Wikileaks) or it can be damaging to innocent people (LulzSec). Both can have negative consequences, but both aim to find information, where they differ is what they choose to do with it.

Digital Resistance: Hacktivists

This New Yorker article was vital to my understanding of Wiki Leaks, As a media student Wiki Leaks is something that has always been discussed but also something I have generally avoided when choosing topics for further research as it just seems to complicated and conspiracy theory like for me to get truly interested.

What astounded me was the efforts gone to keep the collateral murder video online once it was publicly known. The use of multiple servers across the world and mirror sites, all running off donations.

While hackers work anonymously and wiki leak largely works off this anonymity, the need to give the hackivism a face is quite important. Wiki leaks gained major attention with the release of the Collateral Murder video. And with that, Julian Assange became a household name.

“Under the studio lights, he can seem—with his spectral white hair, pallid skin, cool eyes, and expansive
forehead— like a rail-thin being who has rocketed to Earth to deliver humanity some hidden truth.
This impression is magnified by his rigid demeanor and his baritone voice, which he deploys slowly,
at low volume.”

This description from the New Yorker article shows how important image can be, even in hacktivism which is a totally online operation.

Whistle blowing and hactivism are illegal activities. However, it is certainly true that bringing things, like the collateral murder video to light is important and hugely beneficial in maintaining and developing a society of freedom and free speech.

Perspective is hugely important when it comes to issues of hacktivism. This cartoon sums up how little damage hackers see themselves as causing. In the real world, as opposed to the virtual world, taking something because you do not want to pay for it is illegal, and tangibly so. The lack of tangibility is, I think, what makes hacking seem so harmless.

The Value of Citizen Journalism

This article by ABC News is an informative discussion about citizen journalism. While it is a topic usually talked about in regards to big events in far away places, such as the crisis in Syria and, although an older example, Hurricane Katrina, citizen journalism is alive and well among communities large and small across Australia as well as the world.

Like Josh Lynagh in the ABC article, local Facebook pages are often utilized to share news quickly among communities. From local events, traffic obstructions and police radar spots, citizen journalism is used to connect and inform people in specific geographic locations.

ABC itself often tweets asking for input in stories or asking for photos of weather events. In the case of a particularly spectacular sunset over the west coast credibility is not really an issue. However, when it comes to offering written or video documentation of big events, opinion and emotional engagement from being ‘close’ to the event can mean that the journalism presented is not ‘credible’ in the sense that it is not an objective account of events by someone who is trained in the field of journalism.

But does this it any less valuable? I think not. It is perhaps the difference between a primary source and a secondary source. Not exactly the same but the primary source (citizen journalism) is greatly influenced by their surroundings and offers different insights than someone who is separate from events.

Citizen journalism comes in many forms, this video is an example of a citizen journalist who found a way to empower herself through her journalism. This shows that citizen journalism has value, at the very least in helping people understanding their surroundings and finding their voice.

iOS versus Android

iOS and Android are opposing forces in our network society. iOS operate a closed system while Android have an open one. Android holds 84.6% of the market while iOS has just 11.9%. Android does have an advantage in the market however, as almost every phone manufacturer runs Android, while only Apple runs iOS.

[http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary/]

The iPhone was first released in 2007 and original had a completely closed operating system. A year later the app store was introduced which allowed users some control over what their phone had to offer, however, Apple still had the final say about what programs were allowed to be available in the app store and apps such as ‘I am Rich’ were removed after Apple deemed them not good publicity. This closed system is a good idea, however, as it means that Apple can only ever offer great quality. Everything that is offered is in working order and if something goes wrong they tend to just replace it quickly and quietly. This creates strong brand loyalty.

Android was created as a competitor to the iPhone. As it was starting from the beginning, the plan was to join with google and create a completely open operating system that is available to anyone. As a direct contrast to the iOS system, as well as being able to offer far cheaper phones meant that Android could build a serious competitive position in the market.

Seven years later and iOS and Android are finally slightly altering their systems. This week Apple announced the iPhone 6, 6 plus and watch and iOS 8. However, they also have allowed two keypad apps into their app store as an alternative to their design. This is the beginning of open software and a step against Android in an area in which they have always been vastly superior. Android, on the other hand, has slowly been closing its system. This article explains what and how.

It is unknown what these changes will lead to, in software development or market share, but I think that customers will always be either completely attached to iOS or Android and it will take a very big change to stop that.

Other references:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3Di2dO5dH

http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android?currentPage=all

Needing Permission

The idea that we can own images and sounds and less tangible things like ideas has been around for a while. From the early days of Disney with parody to today’s torrenting, people have always found a way around this ownership. A lot of information about Disney in this blog comes from the first chapter of Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture, focusing on Disney’s use of other’s ideas .

Many of Disney’s stories come from fairy tales such as those by the Brothers Grimm (eg Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella). This is because they are part of the public domain and outside of copyright regulations. No one looks at this and calls it stealing. But if we were to watch the movie without paying for it (ie torrenting) then this would be considered stealing. Why is this?

Take this article on the Lego movie. The Lego movie was realeased so long after the rest of the world you cant really blame Australians for stealing it. I know that public holidays and whatnot are important to release dates but does it really matter when many have already seen it in HD for free? Game of Thrones is another good example where Australians pirate the show incessantly. In 2013 the American Ambassador to Australia pleaded with us to stop, claiming stealing is stealing. What is ignored by the creators and HBO (the creators of GOT) is the major cultural difference of Australia in that we aren’t huge users of pay tv. You cant justify a large subscrtopion for a single show when we have a multitude of free to air stations and the internet.

Perhaps Australians run with the view that someone else more able or someone with better access can pay for it (I know I do). But is this so different from Disney appropriating the ideas of others and letting us pay them big money for it? Probably, since there is still a huge amount of creativity involved. But I think the point I am trying to make is that we have always wanted access to idea (eg Disney early last century up til now) and the more digital access we have the more we want to be able to view these ideas at our own convenience. Basically, the increase in technology has made us spoilt. So instead of being amazed at having synchronized sound with our movie we want to watch the movie for free and complain about it if the special effects are not up to scratch.

In any case, creative appropriation will always be around:

DIGC202

Hello DIGC202!

My name is Paris, I’m studying media and communication but have in past switched between arts and commerce. I’m from Jervis Bay, which has much better beaches than Wollongong. 

This subject is my second subject that involves blogging and it still feels pretty new and confusing! I also have not used Reddit before because, in all honesty, I find it displeasing aesthetically. I have, however, been a long time user of Twitter, mostly as a way of following road cycling in Europe because it is such a great way to keep up with new information in races that are not broadcast on Australian free television.  

In DIGC202 I am looking forward to learning about a range of things that I have never considered before. Such as how Reddit can be used as an informative and interesting tool. I don’t know what I’m interested in researching yet, but I am looking forward to seeing the ideas of fellow students. 

Bye for now! 

Blogging for BCM110: A Reflection

Over the past few weeks I have been blogging about what we have been learning in BCM110 and I have to say, it has been a pretty interesting experience. To begin with, my blogging skills were abysmal – my first blog post contained a single hyperlink. By the end, however, I found myself confident in using a combination of hyperlinks, videos and images along with my text.

From my first post I really enjoyed writing about something, researching it and forming an opinion. Ordinarily, I sit on the fence and when it came to taking a side I proclaim that it was ‘too hard’ or that I ‘didn’t care anyway.’ Blogging for BCM110 has largely removed this apathy as I have enjoyed thinking about media theory and forming opinions about what I have been studying each week.

I have learnt about such things as the suitability of the media effects model, semiotics, media ownership, the public sphere and surveillance. I found writing about semiotics and controversial images especially interesting as it opened up questions to me about why the media chooses to use images that can be interpreted so negatively, especially when they can have such a damaging message about women. This led me look further at women in the media where I found this clip of the Hamster Wheel.

I have also been reading the blogs of other students in my tutorial and have been very interested and impressed by the things they have come up with. When it came to commenting on blogs I came across a few technical difficulties but did find a way around the issues.

I think the best and most useful part of this experience has been learning to research a topic and develop and voice and opinion about it. Thanks for listening.