The Wrong Side of the Tracks

In today’s interconnected society, many of us are so dependent on the Internet that we wouldn’t know how to function without having ready access it. According to the ABS Survey of Household Internet Use (2012-2013), 83% of households have home Internet access and 81% of these connected households use the Internet daily.

Until recently, my household had very limited internet access. When I first moved into my grandparents house, almost four years ago, all I had to browse the Internet was a portable Optus hotspot, with very limited data. Shock horror. It wasn’t until last year that I had the sweet taste of unlimited wireless in my own home. To give you an idea of what this meant to me, I could actually watch Youtube video’s that exceeded three minutes.

having-slow-internet-sucks_o_1920039

My grandparents scaled it back recently to about 100gb/ month, but I am managing.

Living with my Grandparents, I am the only person in my house under 70. I am the biggest user of the Internet in our household. I have my iPhone, iPad, and laptop constantly connected to the Internet. The only other person who uses the Internet on an ongoing basis is my Granddad. For the purpose of this exercise, I asked him what he thought about our internet access, and whether he was happy with it. Granddad’s primary use of the Internet consists of watching funny video clips on Facebook and downloading games, such as Minion Rush. However, even he had noticed our Internet’s tendency to lag. He is disappointed that he pays for ‘quality’ Telstra internet, and yet his videos keep buffering.

Bufferin

After talking about the NBN in class earlier this week, I have checked whether our household is eligible. Our area is being currently being prepared for the NBN network.

Because I spend a significant portion of my time at my boyfriend’s house, I also checked whether his household is eligible for the NBN. The rollout of the NBN has not yet started in his area.

So how do the powers-that-be decided who gets access to the sweet freedom of the NBN? Why is it that neighbouring suburbs have different access to the NBN? Why is it that one side of the road has access, but the other side does not?

Besides lagging videos, what impact does slow or limited Internet access mean for Australians?

According to the ABS survey (2012-2013), 72% of Australians use their home internet to pay bills or bank online; 66% use their Internet for social networking; 58% use their Internet to listen to music or to watch videos online; and 58% use their home Internet to access government services. Australian’s are becoming increasingly dependent on their access to fast, reliable to home Internet. So what does this mean for those who do not have this access? Issues that are raised by the uneven rollout of the NBN include higher costs, fewer opportunities, higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, and poverty, health & educational disadvantages (Bowles 2015).

When so many Australians are dependent on reliable Internet, why are only   selected suburbs, streets, or even house numbers given access when others are not? Feel free to leave me a comment down below on how you feel about the new NBN, and whether you have access to it, or will in the near future.

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References:

Bowles, K 2015 BCM240 Lecture 4 Locating the Networked Home: 2015 Lecture Slides 17th August 2015, UOW, Semester 1, 2015.

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Contemporary Media Spaces – Is Broadcast Television Still Relevant?

In the past few weeks, we have been exploring the media space. An interesting media space that we have been studying is that surrounding television. This has included conducting primary research into how television-watching has changed over time. In my previous post, I ‘interviewed’ my grandparents on what they remembered about how and where they watched television growing up. Through qualitative research, I learnt about the personal experiences of my Grandparents’ interaction with televisions, which unfolded during a very interesting time in Australian history.

It can be extremely difficult to conduct this type of research on complex social trends using quantitive methods. In this learning tool, Melissa Hurst explains the concept of ethnography and how it can be used as a qualitative research method to analyse and answer these complex questions. Ethnography is the study of cultures and cultural groups, from the perspective of the subject (Hurst, M). ‘Ethnographies’ literally translates to ‘writings about people groups’ (Hurst, M). Ethnographic research takes place in the natural setting of the subject (Hurst, M). This means that if we are studying people, then the research we are conducting takes place in their natural setting. We use ethnographies to observe cultural norms, behaviours, trends or interactions (Hurst, M).

When my grandparents were growing up, watching television was a family event. It was designated family time. The television took pride position in the living room, and the whole family would gathered around to watch.

Happy 1950's family

Happy 1950’s family

This is completely different to how I engage with the television sets in our household. We have a television, or device on which we watch television, in almost every room of the house. I rarely even my TV shows on an actual television set. Personally, I turn on the television set just to provide background noise, and watch TV shows on my laptop or iPad.

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

This trend, in how we now engage with physical televisions, should be the focus of analysis for contemporary media use in the home. Are people still watching TVs?

The traditional way to monitor television viewing habits has been through the use of a ratings system (Ellis-Christensen, 2015). In many countries, companies use in-house devices that track viewing habits, and use the sample data to estimate the average viewing habits of people of a certain age, gender and demographic (Ellis-Christensen, 2015). If you are interested in how this process works, check out Tricia Ellis-Christensen’s article. It gave my a better understanding of how the process actually works. These numbers, or ‘ratings’, give us an idea of how many people tune in to the television shows, but it doesn’t necessarily give us a clear picture of how that media is engaged with in the home.

“Media audience research is content-focused, and skews towards quantitative research.” Kate Bowles (2015), Coordinator, Lecturer and Tutor.

Quantitative data has been used to explain how people watch television. If you interested in this type of information, check out the Q1 2015 edition of the Australian Multi-Screen Report.

This type of data doesn’t explain the number of televisions left on purely to provide background noise. It doesn’t show the different levels of engagement with the televisions in the bedroom and those in the lounge room. This type of quantitative data doesn’t explain how people engage with television. What about the people who use their laptop, tablet or phone, or are on social media, while watching television? Approximately 3 in 4 Australians browse the internet while watching TV (A.C., Nielsen 2015, cited in Bowles, K 2015). How are these people engaging with their TV’s?

With this revolution in contemporary media usage, commercial researchers should be considering the individual stories of media space experiences. Researchers should be considering how people actually engage with the televisions in their households. But is this actually feasible?

Commercial research has such a strong preference for percentages, charts and graphs, which don’t have the same respect for the individual stories of the media spaces. What do these numbers and statistics actually mean in regards to the individual experiences in media spaces? Will traditional televisions soon become just big boxes of background noise? Or will they forever remain a dominant feature in the living and lounge room? Commercial researchers need to develop a better appreciation of individual’s media spaces to gauge a better understanding of the media space.

Feel free to leave me a comment down below on whether you believe physical televisions still maintain their relevance. Do you believe that new technologies for viewing TV shows are taking over?

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References:

Bowles, K 2015 BCM240 Lecture 3 Measuring the Audience: 2015 Lecture Slides 10th August 2015, UOW, Semester 1, 2015.

Ellis-Christensen, T 2015, How do Networks Know How Many People are Watching a TV Program?, wiseGEEK, viewed 22/08/2015, <http://www.wisegeek.org/how-do-networks-know-how-many-people-are-watching-a-tv-program.htm&gt;.

Hurst, M Date Not Specified, What is Ethnography? – Studying Cultural Phenomena, Study.com, viewed 22/08/2015, <http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-ethnography-studying-cultural-phenomena.html&gt;.

‘Good evening and welcome to television.’

Instead of having a television in every room of the house, there was only one, and it was shared between the whole family. Watching television was a communal event, that brought the whole family together. Nowadays, it is common for a household to have more televisions than people. For the majority of the time, the televisions in my house are there to provide background noise. I spend majority of my time watching television shows on anything other than a television. The media space in which I watch television shows, usually doesn’t even involve a TV; I watch these shows, usually alone, in my bedroom, on my iPad or laptop.

This is a vastly different media experience then when television was first introduced.

I am very fortunate that I still have my grandparents, and even more so that we are very close. So close even that we live in the same house. More than a few of their conversations have began with, “in my day” or, “when I was growing up”, but today I actually asked them to recall their experiences of a pretty monumental event in Australia – the introduction of television.

For the sake of this task, and in the spirit of legitimate research, I reminded them that I was a UOW student, studying Communications and Media, even though they are far from senile and still in full capacity of their wits, and already knew this.

Both of my grandparents were fifteen when television was introduced in Australia, in 1956. My Nan’s first experience with television wasn’t until she was at least seventeen, after she had moved from the country to the big city lights of Wollongong. In her neighborhood, it was her family that owned the television. Her father had bought a Chrysler, and the neighbors would come over after dinner to watch the Dramas.

My Granddad’s experience was somewhat different. His family didn’t own a television set until he was seventeen and had started working. He bought the family a television (also a Chrysler), which he paid off. Both my Nan and Granddad could tell me the brand of the televisions they owned almost 50 years ago – I don’t think I could even tell you the television playing in my lounge room right now.

Before my Granddad’s family owned a television, he and the other kids in the neighborhood would go to a house with a television in the front room. The family who owned the television would open the curtain and face the television out the window so all of the kids could sit on their brick fence and watch. Granddad said they couldn’t hear anything, but they were too busy being amazed at the whole concept.

Both Nan and Granddad could recall sitting down and watching television with the family. They said it was a family activity to sit down, all together in the living room, and watch the dramas – many of which were produced by Crawfords Production.

1950s FAMILY SITTING IN EASY CHAIRS WATCHING TELEVISION

1950s FAMILY SITTING IN EASY CHAIRS WATCHING TELEVISION                  http://tommytoy.typepad.com/tommy-toy-pbt-consultin/television/page/3/

Television was not just a communal event in the home, but a means to bring the public together. Many of the nation’s greatest historical events were shared through this new form of media. My grandparents recalled standing, in the David Jones store in Wollongong in 1969, with a crowd of people to watch the historic moon landing.

A television screen grab from a CBS News Special Report: shows an Apollo 11 astronaut on the moon, July 1969. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images) Credit: CBS/Getty Images

A television screen grab from a CBS News Special Report: shows an Apollo 11 astronaut on the moon, July 1969. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Credit: CBS/Getty Images

In recent times, media spaces have become much more individualized. People no longer need to be in the same physical space to share the same media. Nowadays, my grandparents will sit in two different living spaces of the house to watch the exact same TV show, simply because they both have a favourite TV-watching chairs in different rooms. Because neither will forfeit their own lounge room to move their chair, there is an almost constant echo through the house.

Typical television spaces are no longer confined to the living room, and people are no longer restricted to one television show per media space. Thanks to technology such as Netflix, “television” is no longer just the television set. TV shows can be watched any time, anywhere, on almost any device. The television-watching “space” has evolved. With maybe the exception of sports, which Australians adamantly preserve as a communal television-watching experience, many people would rather watch Dance Moms alone, without fear of judgment.

My Place in the Media Space

Hello friends! If you are new to my blog, then welcome, welcome. Come on in. I have been running this blog, off and on for about a year and half, to document my journey through the BCMS degree. If you want to scroll all the way back to March, 7 2014 (my very first attempt at formal blog writing) then you can read my introduction… Or I could just link it here. However, to reiterate, my name is Chelsea Tagg and I am currently a second year UOW student, studying a Double Bachelor of Communication & Media Studies and Commerce.

Until quite recently, I would have considered myself to be quite passive in the media space. My primary source of media is of the Social variety. I was a member of the Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Pinterest communities, but more often than not, I was an observer. I would post the odd photo, pin some pins, but really, I was there to observe, and to scroll.

Although I was passive, I was a teeny bit obsessive. My Macbook, iPhone and iPad (no, I’m not sponsored by Apple) are all extensions of my hands – extra limbs that are necessary for daily functioning. I feel like my social media use is engrained into my daily routine deeper than brushing my teeth – and I have very good oral hygiene.

Just last night, my boyfriend and I were watching TV. While watching TV, I had my Macbook next to me with Facebook going, my iPad in my lap and my iPhone in my hand. At one point, I was not only watching TV, but also watching TWO separate Youtube videos – one on my iPhone and one on my iPad. But let’s face it. This is not an anomaly. These devices, and their access to social media, are like the new security blanket for those of the twenty-first century.

Moral of the story – passive, but obsessive.

Recently, I started a Youtube channel, and this all changed. I went from being quite a private user in a public space, to deliberately utilising social media’s full capabilities. I have created all new social media accounts on Youtube, Gmail, Instagram, and Pinterest, all with public settings. I am now deliberately placing myself in the public media space across a number of mediums.

I now have the opportunity to interact and engage with people, essentially strangers, from all over the world who watch my videos or follow my Instagram account. And this all starts with me, sitting alone in my room talking to a camera. This concept absolutely amazes me. This notion of an invisible audience is what Youtube is based upon; people sitting in their rooms, often alone, talking to a camera. Although Youtubers cannot see who they are talking to, those audiences are there, and sometimes in tremendous numbers. Although I haven’t quite reached the success of Zoella or Jaclyn Hill… yet 😏… I know that each time one of my video’s goes live, it is reaching an audience. These people are in different countries, times, spaces but are all watching my video, and that’s pretty cool.

However, this can have it’s downsides. At times you are in fact talking to this audience, to real people, and not just the camera in your room. Today I received my first negative comment on one of my videos. A stranger had gone out of their way to deliberately insult me. This is the risk associated with participating in the public media space. The Internet is a big place with lots of opinionated people.

Aren't you glad that I didn't use the Taylor Swift meme.

Aren’t you glad that I didn’t use the Taylor Swift meme.

So, anyway, that is a little about me and my relationship (yes, a serious and committed relationship) with social media, and the media space in which I operate.

Lastly, I am just going to add in here a shameless plug – if you are interested, please check out my channel, Chelsea Belle, and my Instagram page.