The Likes & Swipes of Social Media Personas

 

 Meet Steve, on the left. He’s a 43-year-old chain smoker with a passion for collecting vintage car parts. Rhys, in the middle, is an 18-year-old high school DJ who hopes to record his own music someday. Renee, on the right, is an entry-level public relations worker who hopes that her long hours of work will pay off with a promotion. 

I’d like to raise several points from this (fake) case study. I grabbed these images off the internet myself and typed some random, stereotypical crap about them. If you saw these images or their subsequent accounts alone  on a social media site, you’d never guess that;

(a) they’re the same person (on the other side of the screen)

(b) that person is a 19-year-old female communications student who created fake profiles to demonstrate the ease of faking internet personas.

An online persona is a user-created identity which one performs on social media. This is something we (in particular, gen x and y) do intentionally. We effectively put on a performance to those who follow our social media constructs. When you add a pinch of personae with half a cup of the digital revolution, you end up with a magnitude of instagram models and micro famous vloggers earning six-figure salaries.

There’s all sorts of criticisms of people talking themselves up via their online personas and painting themselves as different to how they really are. This can be a problem when it comes to cat-fishing, stalking and online predators, however it happens on a large scale without criminal intent (think photo-shopped profile pictures, teens making themselves older etc.). Although the internet is thus seen as a tool for fake facets, it isn’t actually the fuel which started the fire. Do any of you act the same around your colleagues and your family? Your friends and your grandparents? Do you act the same in a night club as you would in church? No (I sincerely hope). Personas have existed for yonks, waaaay before the internet started.

Despite that, I do wish to pose the question of the impact of personas on the internet. I believe they have set the digital revolution alight and will continue to play a massive role in the prominence of the internet in our lives. Do you agree?

Claire

 

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Original Image

 

 

 

 

 

Images: 1 2 3

Murder on the Guardian Express

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Original Image

 

Citizen journalism and the legacy media strive to the same objectives; the collection, dissemination, analysis and distribution of content for the good of the general public (source). The extra weapon which sets legacy media at the advantage to citizen journalism is gatekeeping. Gatekeepers, in the legacy media, effectively place a stamp of approval over  information which is made available to the wider public. Information published by the legacy media is generally not questioned as it is seen to have been constructed by an authority. What is the role of gatekeepers in citizen journalism, you might ask? Uh, it’s kind of AWOL . . .

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Original Image

Citizen journalism can be seen as the complete absence of authority – the anarchy of the media world. It’s unreliable, it’s unchecked, it’s open-sourced . . . why does it work? It’s based on the premise that everybody knows something, but nobody knows everything. The days of the captive audience are gone, as each person now has the power to become a producer of content. Although the absence of gatekeepers has created the risk of non-legitimate and/or news content being ‘published’, there is also the opportunity for the production of valuable content, even if it is unauthorised (for example WikiLeaks).

The rise of the internet culture has enhanced the prosumer movement and thus excluded the legacy media from much of the content production and consumption cycle. Legacy news plants have been cutting jobs to cover subsequent losses, which only gives citizen journalism more power. The strength of legacy media is its quality, but the sheer quantity of citizen journalism channels has overcome the issue of bias and opened up a magnitude of doors and new opportunities!

Annotated Bibliography: The Adventures of Mindy Farmer

My Digital Artefact:  The story of a Sim, Mindy Farmer, who struggles with finding herself again after her partner’s tragic, premature death.

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A screen-portrait of Mindy Farmer, the protagonist in my Sim story.

 

#1 – Alice & Kev

This source is a WordPress site which details the story of Alice and Kev, two homeless Sims. I found the method of storytelling easy to follow and navigate through using chapters in one category to keep the story aligned, and the way the author used only two Sims to tell the story kept it focused. Although this site tells a detailed story and has links to various downloads for the Sims 3, it lacks a coherent view of the entire Sim world. This is a gap I’m aiming to fill in my own artefact. Instead of merely a story, I feel it would be more effective to include some ‘how-to’ videos and hacks for the game to accompany the narrative of my character. Similarly, this site is limited to photographic media for storytelling. I have expanded on this through using a combination of pictures and videos for maximum audience engagement.

# 2 – Drake Family Secrets

This site covers a much more detailed story of a Sims legacy. Although ‘Alice and Kev’ gave me the initial inspiration to do my own story, the layout and detail in this site is how I plan to structure mine. It includes a family tree and character bios, which I found really helpful in understanding the story. It also features a voting element whereby the audience chooses the character they wish to lead the story, for each generation. I found this to be a really effective way to reach out to an audience and I hope to adapt a similar traction via twitter. However I did find the content to be a little too dense; there was a lot of material that I felt required a very deep understanding of game design and development (of which I lack) and it hindered my ability to connect with the website as a whole. This is something I’ll attempt to avoid in my blog, to make it simple and accessible for a wider audience.

#3 – Writing while the Rice Boils

This site is a source of inspiration for writers. It features a collection of generators to provide ideas on plot twists, titles, characters and more. The purpose of this site is to assist aspiring novelists with their creations. It was published by an author, Debbie Allen. Although it in no way is related to the Sims, I have used it regularly in the planning of my story and in naming my characters. It’s a source I will regularly come back to in the process of creating this story because it generates random ideas I can adapt to keep my story wacky and interesting. One downfall is that not all the great ideas the generators come up with are adaptable for the Sims (e.g. witnessing a murder), however this is something I can attempt to overcome through effective story-telling and manipulating or photo shopping pictures and videos to make the story happen outside of the Sims console.

#4  Life’s Stories

This source is a magazine article which explores the way in which people create narratives in their mind to describe their lives, or events with them. It explains how we picture ourselves as ‘actors’ in a particular role or stereotype and how we view people around us as having a particular purpose, for example the neighbour’s baby cries next door for the purpose of keeping someone awake. This insight heavily impacted upon how I formed the supporting characters of my story. Each person exists in a role and has a purpose surrounding the protagonist, Mindy. Under the premise discussed in the article, I feel I was able to create more realistic people with legitimate motives to enter and exit the story as I need. The true purpose of each character’s existence is much more explicit and relevant to the story.

#5 – Story Structure in Short Stories

This site, published by a successful author, details simple steps of writing a concise short story. It breaks down seven steps which are necessary for a circular narrative. Although it’s a very basic learning curve, it assisted me greatly in planning my DA. This is because I’ve never used the Sims to create a narrative and I was worried it would be easy for me to lose the essence of the story and merely end up posting what my Sims were/are doing. This source has ensured my strict plot will travel through the story and make sense at the end. It touches upon the notion of writing a short story about decisions and their consequences and argues that decisions are at the core of every effective story. I disagree with this conclusion; my story follows the aftermath of a horrifying event which no-one had any control over and although the decisions made after that incident continue the story, I feel that the core event had nothing to do with decision-making and thus that is not the basis of my story.

#6 – Are we all Sims?

Although I’ve seen many Facebook jokes on this topic, this article is the first I’ve come across that approaches the topic seriously. It focuses on the phenomenon of virtualisation and the work of philosopher Nick Bostram which suggests we may all be part of a large computer experiment whereby post-humans research their ancestry or use us for pure entertainment. Reading this article has actually changed the way I play the Sims. Viewing and creating a computerised world could in essence be what a post-human is doing to me, and Sims have the ability to play the Sims on their own computers. This paradox has impacted on my artefact through my treatment of it as more than a game. I aim to throw stimuli at my Sim to understand, through her given traits, how she acts. I am unsure of how much my thoughts on this issue will be apparent in my final artefact so therefore I will write a blog post to further discuss the issue, as part of it.

#7 – Eight types of Sims Players

This blog post discusses eight ways in which people play the Sims game and why. I found it to be particularly interesting on top of the previous source (above) in discussing why so many people make versions of themselves and their families on the Sims to reflect real lives. This is a concept I intend to build on in the tangent segment of my artefact blog. It assisted me in planning out my story; I used the motives of players to make my story relatable to a wide audience. However, I feel that this source was too finite. Although I agree with each motive presented, there are more ways in which to play this game and make these worlds. I will build upon the ideas discussed in this source to combat its lack of content.

#8 – Self-Portrayal in a Simulated Life: Projecting Personality and Values in The Sims 2

Even though this site is based on an older version of the Sims than I currently use, the ideas are still relevant to my artefact. It builds upon the ideas in the above source, namely that people ‘act out’ aspects of themselves and their own lives on the Sims. It argues that the gibberish language spoken by Sims accompanied by random, imaged speech bubbles when they talk encourage the player to ‘unconsciously fill in the missing details’. An experiment undertaken (detailed in the source) showed a correlation between physical appearance of the user and the appearance of the Sim they created, however the sample was very small so the results cannot be considered conclusive. This source helped me to understand the science around this video game. It helped me to realise that there’s so much more to the world of the Sims than just the game. This inspired me to go one step further than just blogging Mindy’s story; I have now created a category called tangents which I intend to fill with posts which relate to the Sims but are outside of my story.

#9 – Simself

This source is YouTube channel which tells the story If I had You via video episodes. The Sim characters have cleverly been crafted to tell an intense romance story, however the actual videos are merely stills put together with captions and music. It would have been more effective to have videos filmed on the Sims incorporated into the channel to make the story seem that little bit more real. I enjoyed how the source employed alternative entries to the world, such as Q and A’s and factual videos. I received the idea of using YouTube as a second platform from this source and also the power of using music to tell a story, from this source.

#10 – The Sims 3 Community (Official Site)

This is the official page of the Sims 3. It has an abundance of content, including information, tutorials, discussion forums, polls and links to YouTube videos. The many interfaces into the Sims world inspired me to use a variety of platforms (such as Twitter and YouTube) to sell Mindy’s world. Despite all the effective content in this source, it’s very impersonal and generic, which I feel limits the audience’s experience. I strive for my blog to be relatable, which I intend to do using Mindy’s persona. Although it provides me with an abundance of resources and inspiration, it’s not the style of artefact I wish to produce.

Down with the Woollies DJ

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original image

Are you one of those people who will drive around the block one more time to hear the end of their favourite song? I sure am! Supermarkets thrive off and take advantage of this tendency of ours; the rationale being that the longer we spend in that supermarket, the more of its products we’ll be exposed to and the more we will potentially purchase (source).

Everything in a supermarket is carefully and deliberately constructed in order to stretch out the amount of time (and dosh) we spend there, including the music. In this week’s lecture Andrew Whelan spoke about the paradigms of music remixes, but he also touched upon the power of music to control our behaviours, alluding to “the Woolworths DJ”.

Music in supermarkets is designed to produce particular attitudes and behaviours in its consumers (source), namely the desire to purchase. This same source outlines a study which suggested that 76% of customers buy more (and 63% admit to it) when exposed to background music and 82% experienced a mood increase – who doesn’t buy more when they’re happy? The music tends to be relaxing, to make us want to stay and not focus on outside stresses. All we need to worry about is the lush display of some 44 000 grocery items (source) planted strategically and slyly in the aisles in front of us – what heaven!

A few Woolworths employees are in my tutorial, and they talked about how late on Friday and Saturday nights, more upbeat ‘young people’ music is played, because for some downright odd reason, teens and young adults make up the main demographic of stupid-o’clock grocery sprees.

So next time you’re in a grocery store, notice the background tunes – they were put there for you, after all – and ‘if it doesn’t make you go “oh! this takes me back to when I fit into jeans!” – you are not the target market’ (sincerely, my year 12 English teacher) – so does that mean you’re defying science? 😉

 

-Claire xD

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Interfaces to Transmedia Narrative

 

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original image source

 

This post is the first destination of several this week; join me on an epic adventure around the internet (who knew floo powder worked on hyperlinks as well as fireplaces?) to discover the meaning of transmedia narrative!

Nowadays, a novel isn’t the only way to enter another universe. The notion of transmedia allows an audience to experience a narrative world through various different points of entry, known as interfaces. This blog post will be a remediation of this idea.

Pop quiz, BCM112 friends! The correct response is a portkey which will transport you to the next destination for transmedia information . . . but beware of choosing the wrong answer *warning music* . . .

Transmedia is best defined as:

(a) a medium of expression

(b) the use of analog media 

(c) the use of multiple media platforms to create a narrative world across time

 

Goodbye & Good luck!

 

 

 

NB: If, for whatever reason, you cannot get all the way around this internet track or find yourself splinched, here are the hyperlinks (in order) for the destinations:

Incorrect quiz answer: Meme

Correct quiz answer: Podcast

Prezi

YouTube Video/Remediation 

End of Journey WP Page

 

Artificial Intelligence has #nochill

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Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft: Original Image

What differentiates craftsmanship from industrialism is that the ending quality of the project is not determined (David Pye). The risk involved in crafting has caused many, uh, interesting projects to be developed and tested. As we morph into the post-industrial world, the rise of digital aesthetics in crafting has led to even more diverse and vulnerable projects being created.

A recent example of digital craftsmanship going catastrophic is Microsoft’s artificial intelligence chatbot, known as Tay AI. It’s effectively a persona that exists only online and is targeted at people aged 18-24. Microsoft hoped to test and improve their knowledge and use of ‘teen’ language and slang. Tay was marketed with the slogan ‘zero chill’, and was designed to act like a 19 year old girl to adopt the speaking habits of her online followers. However this ability turned into a fatal flaw as a result of internet trolls, who taught her racist and sexual phrases. This caused Microsoft to shut down the experiment only a day after it began.

At first, things went quite smoothly; Tay was kind and happy and seemed to be into world joy and stuff.

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Source

After Tay had spent some time with her online following, things took a darker twist;

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Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Despite the epic failure of Tay AI, another AI chatbot exists successfully. Xiaoice is a Chinese version which people turn to for comfort in hard times. It remembers previous exchanges with a person, such as details of a break up with a partner, and follows up. It’s become a huge success in China and has a wide database of words, expressions and emojis it has picked up from its audience. However, despite the success of this chatbot, it has created ethically-questionable addictions as people are now forging relationships with someone who does not exist.

So there’s nothing wrong with digital craftsmanship . . . just the people who use it! Nah – Jokes aside, the contrasting success of these two chatbots demonstrates clearly the risk of   quality control when it comes to craftsmanship. In the example of Xiaoice, it paid off – but not so much with Tay. We are all aggregators of these chatbots in that we create what they know and what they say – and that’s the real message of this medium!

 

-Claire xD