The Homeless Youth Team

If you were to google ‘youth homelessness’ upwards of 21 million results would be found in under a second. If you were to then limit your search to just ‘news’ in order to get a small idea of media coverage you’d have over 200,000 stories covering the issue at your fingertips. Just the first page of news results hits the international scale. This is not just a national issue, but a global one. However the issue hits closer to home than we might realise. Many have spoken out about the issue, however Ed Sheeran provides a shining example that comes to mind for many.

Ed Sheeran – The A-team

The song above, arguably launched Ed’s rise to fame. The song won him numerous awards and essentially, established him as an artist. The fact that this song had such a crucial role in his early success demonstrates it’s importance itself. The song created it’s own audience in those who could sympathise with the issues presented. Primarily issues of homelessness and drug abuse. The songs inspiration, as told by Ed surrounds his own experience spending time at a temporary hostel for homeless youth. He met a young woman there and her story really struck a cord with him (no pun intended). The song in it’s essence a campaign to bring awareness about the dangers of youth homelessness and the lifestyles they potentially could lead.

Ed was once quoted as saying “I’ve made a song about a homeless prostitute who has been able to get on A-list radio“. This clearly demonstrates the songs reach and the ways in which it has impacted the global community. In sharing his song worldwide, Sheeran has continued the debate surrounding this issue. He has also made it publicly known there was times he too was homeless. With such a global celebrity highlighting this issue it can not be ignored. Without any direct attempts, he has stimulated international debate and conversation on how to correct this issue.

The video demonstrates the lifestyle lead by homeless youth and evokes emotion from its viewers. By evoking emotion and putting it in simple black and white (again, no pun intended) how dangerous living this way can be it can be assumed Ed wants to make major changes. Whilst ed makes no formal debate arguments through his video, his intentions are clear.

The issue remains in the forefront of many political agendas. International examples of the debate more formally within the various public sphere settings can be found below.

Australia (Podcast) – ABC Ending Youth Homelessness in Australia

U.S.A – Youth Quake Teens Debate Youth Homelessness

Canada – Hiring Homeless Youth

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The world we live in today is one of participation. We no longer sit, nod and accept things or simply appreciate art. We go, we do, we watch, we listen, we create. We appreciate then we break it down and we mimic. We live in an interactive world where the things we see around us can be recreated with a simple google of ‘how to’. In this modern technological age, we not only ask why but we ask how. We are at the point where we have crafted almost the whole wide world to suit us. Even nature has been manipulated in such a way to answer our every beck and call. We predict the weather, demolish forests, create lakes have dogs bring us our newspapers. We are so in control that when we see something new, we need to understand and control that too.

It amuses me how as such a technologically advanced society, we can find and create so much beauty in our past mistakes. The process of art and the way it advances and develops is so obviously non-linear nor is it trying to be. Where we once would have rolled our eyes and hit the VCR or changed the TV channel we now sit and fiddle and jerk so meticulously to create what we once despised.

The example that fascinated me the most, especially when considering McLuhan and his ideas surrounding mediums developing and moving forward was the glitch art rugs. They provide the perfect example of a medium mutating in a very non-linear way.The varied nature of them and the different ways they converged with often glitchy issues was fascinating. The rugs were to me, the perfect example of a way in which tradition and media converge in such a way they intertwine and become one. The also perfectly demonstrate the ways in which tradition influences technology but conversely technology is also influencing tradition.

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My personal favourite example pictured above

 

I spent a whole day so fascinated with glitch art I had to try my hand at it. I started my day watching Mondays’ lecture, leave it up to Ted to inspire a whole days work! I tried to refresh my memory with lecture content, however it didn’t want to play along giving me error after error… coincidence? I took the lecture slides not loading as an excuse to just listen and make some glitch art for myself. The gif below is the error message on echo360 which took me next to no time! The soundcloud however took quite a bit longer and considering it was my first shot i’m proud of it.

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I gave glitch art my best shot, like I do most things because like i mentioned earlier, we live in a world of mass participation so i’d be crazy not to.

Context is (the) Key.

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This image struck me. It evoked emotions of shock and horror yet also deep sadness and helplessness. Whether you are aware of the context or not, this picture is powerful. However it is the images context that makes it complex. This image has been placed in a gallery as one of the images that define 2016 yet again, if you are unaware of exactly what is going on you’ll struggle to understand why. Context is key.
An almost apocalyptic scene. A child in front of a burning city, an ash black sky. There are few signifiers to place the image in a specific place or time. At first sight my eyes were drawn immediately to the red bike. I was struck by the fact a child would be in what appeared to be such a dangerous situation. When you look closer you can see his lack of shoes and filthy feet. The still burning city leaves so many questions unanswered. His face doesn’t give a lot a way, yet still resides with me. All in all, the image to me suggested a child living in a war torn country confused where to turn next. Rather than explain semiotics to be the study of signs and symbols, I’m going to put it into practice for you.
 
The image has been titled ‘A child in war-torn Mosul’. Immediately placing the image and explaining the fire. What the image can’t tell us but the context can, is that the facial expression on the child is actually one of pain and fear. During the Mosul Offensive retreating ISIS fighters had set the pictured oil field and near by sulfur plants on fire creating toxic black smoke that was painful to breathe. Possibly up to 1000 people were hospitalised because of those thick dark clouds. The image was taken at noon yet the sun is nowhere to be seen. It has been spread internationally perhaps to showcase and humanise the effects of an ongoing war. The child’s face against the smouldering background is not one you are likely to forget.
Like I mentioned earlier, when reading this image it’s context is key. One’s own context also comes into play. They way I read this image as opposed to someone who supports ISIS would be very vastly different. We would both see a child in front of burning oil fields but have extraordinarily different reactions.  Reactions I would rather not delve into. Without context, you could imagine so many different scenarios, so many different wars, so many different countries. The denotations of the image do not offer much without it’s connotations based in fact. The connotations of this image almost act like a code or key to a map in the way that you need to apply them to understand and properly read this image.
Sources:
Nydailynews.com. (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/powerful-photos-defined-2016-gallery-1.2917821?pmSlide=1.2917801 [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].

When I finally at long last broke down this paradoxical statement and series of ambiguous ideas I understood it to mean, that the medium through which any message is transmitted, influences the message itself. In some cases the medium, especially if it is new or developing not only influences the message it transmits but also society as a whole.  For example, If one was to send a message in a bottle rather than a text it would come with a completely different set of connotations. Perhaps they lived inside a Disney movie because messages in bottles are works of fiction and everyone you need to reach has a phone, don’t be dramatic.

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The fact I now automatically jump to the conclusion that a message in a bottle is an overly dramatic method of communication is the perfect example of how text messages as a medium have transformed the ways in which we communicate. Who now days would prefer the long intensive labour of putting pen to paper and finding the most appropriate way to physically send the one hard copy of a message when they can just zap in into the interweb or the cloud or wherever it goes and have it delivered momentarily. My point is, the effect this one specific medium has had on our society and the global community at large is irreversible, astounding and beyond what anyone would once have thought capable. This is just one example of  hundreds that demonstrate the profound effect the medium so often has on the message and later society as a whole.

Sometimes it’s good to stop. Look back. Even though the processes are so often non-linear and perhaps more so as pictured below… Consider how various mediums have exerted so much power over their message to build our world today. Whether it’s someones Greenpeace t-shirt reminding us how horrible we are as a human race or sending a snapchat of a message in a bottle to your cousin in Austria because thats now the more practical way to communicate.

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Maybe the medium isn’t ALWAYS the message, but it’s undeniable how deeply they affect one another.

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Medium in a Bottle

Where does our media really come from?

People have a tendency to speak about ‘the media’ as something out of their control, beyond their grasp, almost non-human and now, it is.  Software  has been created to mimic and manipulate their own work in order to satisfy the ever increasing demand for news. Yet it is still creeping under  the skin of journalists’ and members of the public alike.

This new technology is being presented in a positive light. Business’ are implementing the ‘robot journalists’ in order to “free journalists to do more journalism”(Lee, 2014). Surely this is questionable, people are spending time creating software to manipulate the media, in order to spend more time creating media which will in turn be manipulated and churned through software to be re-printed? The demand now for news is greater than ever as it is so easily accessible across so many platforms, people consume media content rapidly. The robot journalists in this sense are greatly assisting the mass consumption people are demanding. An example of this can be found through the aforementioned business which was producing 300 corporate earning stories before implementing the new software and is now printing 4400 “4,100 of these would not exist”(Lee, 2014) without the robot journalist software.  In my eyes, it’s a double edged sword. The software is a great step forward in the sense that it is assisting greatly in trying to meet the constant demand and is an innovative new way for people to use and manipulate the media. However it can not be denied that this software will eventually be used to replace human beings, it will no longer be assisting and learning from them but taking over their jobs.

Humans are curious creatures when it comes to their use and understanding of the media. For example, John C Dvorak has written an entire piece on ‘the myth of the robot journalist’ the title itself denying the existence of the centrepiece of his own article! It can not be forgotten that journalists make up part of the robot journalism audience too and they certainly have a lot to say. Comments like “what a crock”(Dvorak, 2017) and calling their work simply “regurgitation”(Oakley, 2017) make the overall feeling of journalist blatantly obvious. Research into the opinions of the general public shows they are more concerned with the credibility of the work more so than who wrote it. This is demonstrated through research which states “the public gave higher scores to the algorithm’s work when it was notified as the real author, but they gave lower scores to the algorithm’s work when the author was notified as a journalist”(Jung et al., 2017).

Robot journalists have arisen recently and are currently being perceived in both positive and negative light in terms of the ways in which they are used and the content they are creating. Current media audience research surrounding this software appears inconclusive.

Reference List:

Dvorak, J. (2017). The Myth of the Robot Writer. PC Magazine, [online] pp.138 – 139. Available at: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=0bcc3b32-4b39-4123-ba94-c798d094b274%40sessionmgr4009&hid=4102&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#AN=121501645&db=f6h [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Jung, J., Song, H., Kim, Y., Im, H. and Oh, S. (2017). Intrusion of software robots into journalism: The public’s and journalists’ perceptions of news written by algorithms and human journalists. Computers in Human Behavior, [online] 71, pp.291-298. Available at: https://www.scopus.com/record/display.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85012096207&origin=inward&txGid=B68A2CF730512557620551DC5B2CFD6D.wsnAw8kcdt7IPYLO0V48gA%3a1 [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Lee, M. (2014). Delayed Gratification – Rise of the robot journalist. [online] Slow-journalism.com. Available at: http://www.slow-journalism.com/rise-of-the-robot-journalist [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Rise of robot writers?. (2017). Micro Mart, [online] 26(1307), pp.26-28. Available at: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?sid=ab645960-fd36-4d4a-b9b3-b9b0411908e3%40sessionmgr120&vid=0&hid=122&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#AN=95649784&db=f6h [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Light Bulb Moment

“Starting in week 2, you will begin work on conceptualizing and rapidly prototyping ideas for the digital artefact on which you will be working for the remainder of the subject.” A scary thought after just 1 lecture! I had little to no, closer to no than little idea of what I could possibly create.. I spent a lot of time thinking about things I love, tennis, my dogs, reading, writing, exercising… still nothing. No prototyping let alone rapidly. Rapidly increasing breathing from overthinking, possibly? Lecture 2 helped me a lot listening to people talk about what they had achieved and how they had just followed their passion.

I am very much an animal person and nothing makes me happier than my dogs, so the real thinking began. Was there anyway I could share this love? Perhaps a platform on which people could share their dog story’s? An online forum? A series of photos to cheer people up?

It was the comment about using the communities you are already apart of that set off my light bulb moment. The most active and sociable community I am apart of with my dogs is “Figtree Dog Walking Group”. Essentially it’s a facebook page created to connect owners and dogs that spend time at the Figtree off-leash dog park. Everyone loves to socialize at the park and uses the group to tell people about their dogs and what’s been happening at the park. Every group member has their own unique story and I want to showcase all of these on a webpage, profiling all the dogs whose can spare some time to share! I won’t be completely relying on them to share, as I will be regularly heading down the the park with my camera and note pad to capture photos and jot down stories to start building my website piece by piece, paw by paw!

Feels great to feel overwhelmed with excitement rather than anxiety! Can’t wait to get started.

Mar-15-2017 21-04-11