Information Is Beautiful // FMP

I’ve been looking at how best to display information, and remember seeing the ‘Information Is Beautiful’ book a few years ago.  I think displaying factual information in an interesting way is something I’d like to do with this project as a way of communicating a wider meaning would be something to try.  Particularly with respect to media and newsworthy information, I think displaying peoples’ distrust of the media would be really impactful.

I need to put a survey together to ask some proper questions so that I can get some proper answers. Things like “Do you trust the media?”

It’s an incredibly loaded question with so, so many shades of grey, but we’re often expected by the media to make binary choices like this in every day life.  For example during the pre-Brexit pantomime, forcing people to arbitrarily pick to stay or to leave, when it was just never that simple.  The real meat of the things that go on around us are impacted by our personal bias, our socio-economic background, and various other factors.

By getting people to be more aware of their personal bias and its influence and impact on their decision making process would be something I’d be really interested in looking at.

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Choose Your Own Adventure // FMP

After another tutorial with Matt, I’ve surmised that life is one great ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.  In essence, our lives are made up of the choices we make and the allegiances we take, but also the things we didn’t do or the choices we didn’t want to take.  Each one altering the outcome and the journey together – each choice altering the next choice, or the next hurdle, and so on and so forth.

The stories themselves are formatted so that, after a couple of pages of reading, the protagonist faces a number of options, each of which leads to more options, and then to one of many endings.  The number of endings is not set, and varies from as many as 44 in the early titles, to as few as 8 in later adventures. There is no clear pattern among the various titles regarding the number of pages per ending, the ratio of good to bad endings, or the reader’s progression backwards and forwards through the pages of the book. This allows for a realistic sense of unpredictability, and leads to the possibility of repeat readings, which is one of the distinguishing features of the books.

The idea that our choices effect outcomes is something I really want to convey in this project, as with a lot of what goes on around us it can be more subliminal than people are aware of.  It’s that old analogy of “blink and you’ll miss it” with regards to a life well lived for example, but that’s no good to me if I want to create an awareness in people that they needn’t shuffle around with their eyes closed.  It’s also whether this is done purposefully or not.  That’s not to say that nobody has any idea of anything, but I would feel confident in suggesting that a lot of things tend to go unnoticed or ignored until it’s rather too late.  Communicating the aspect of choice in this whole scenario is really important to the project, but I need to pick something that encourages the viewers to make that choice.

With the current political climate (i.e. Brexit, Trump, & Terrorism), it’s easy to pick a polarising subject and get people to fight about which one is the best.  That’s easy.  Getting people to understand their viewpoints, that their opinions are more nuanced than a binary yes or no.  Stay or Leave in Brexit’s case.  That’s harder.  The way in which the mass media works is that it often capitalises on fear, or populist subjects that usually cause passionate responses.  Post a factual article with no buzzwords and people might take notice.  Post some sensationalistic and scandalous tale about terrorism, or plotting some MP against her UKIP rival because they were arguing about the EU and all of a sudden people are baying for blood and it’s far, far more interesting.  Then they can report on that instead, call out someone for being too Right or too Left, and the cycle goes around and around and around.

How do you get people to pause?  How do you get people to notice?  Perhaps most importantly, how do you get people to understand the affect that this has on them?  It’s cause and effect, but at the moment I can’t figure out in which direction it goes in.

Does the mass media reflect society, or are we a reflection of it?  Is it a commentary on us and our lives, or is it a command?

Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.” – Noam Chomsky.

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42 possible endings – limitless fun!

Fake News vs Real News // FMP

It’s quite hard to tell.  I’ll be honest.  Some of them are so, so bad that it’s almost unbelievable that they are true.  Some of them however, are fake – this is damaging, and back to one of my initial thoughts during this project that fake news and mass media communications are actually altering our collective consciousness, and the way in which we perceive the world is changing.

Here are some fake sounding REAL news stories.

  • ‘Black Hitler’ to stand for election for far-right party in Finland
  • Loose Women dropped on International Women’s Day
  • Pizza Hut has invented shoes that order pizza for you
  • Russia Bans Children From Watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Because of Gay Scene
  • Police: Man says he stabbed mother to death because she is vampire, he is werewolf
  • Barbara Streisand: Donald Trump is making me fat
  • Russian MP offers solution to hooligan violence: make it a spectator sport
  • Nuclear submarine plans found in Welsh charity shop
  • ‘I’m Spider-Man’ yells man jumping out window after being dumped by girlfriend
  • Sex wearable is coming to track your performance and judge you
  • Police say they were ‘authorized by McDonald’s’ to arrest protesters, suit claims
  • 67-year-old man dies from heart attack after catching prized Pokemon ‘Lapras’
  • Woman mistakes town meeting for Donald Trump rally and smears 30 cars with smooth peanut butter in protest
  • Chimp Who Smokes a Pack a Day ‘Doesn’t Inhale’ Pyongyang Zoo Officials Say
  • Fight on UK train after people kept placing bagels on travellers’ heads
  • Man Arrested After Stabbing Himself To Get A Day Off Work

Please find more of these on a sub Reddit page called ‘Sadly This Is Not The Onion‘.

And now though for some actual FAKE news, but are they really that different?

  • Woman arrested for defecating on boss’ desk after lottery win
  • Pope Francis Shocks World By Endorsing Trump for President
  • Rage Against The Machine to Reunite and Release Anti-Trump Album
  • Woman Murders College Roommate for Sending Too Many Candy Crush Requests
  • President Obama Confirms He Will Refuse To Leave Office If Trump Gets Elected
  • Man Shoots Off Own Penis After Taking Selfies With Gun
  • Pro-Lifers Declare: Ejaculation is Murder!  Every Sperm Is A Life
  • Saudi Arabia Panel of Scientists Admits Women Are Mammals But Not Yet Human
  • Woman Infects 586 Men With HIV and Plans To Infect 2000 More Before 2017
  • Morgue Worker Arrested After Giving Birth To Dead Man’s Baby
  • Trump Claims America Should Never Have Given Canada Its Independence
  • Woman puts poison on her vagina to kill husband when performing oral sex on her
  • Donald Trump Announces He Will Make Singing The National Anthem At Start of Work Compulsory For All Government Employees
  • Alt-Right Leader Wins Right to Donate Blood On Condition It Isn’t Given To Black People
  • Mohammed Ali’s Home To Be Turned Into Brothel By Developers

All legitimate things seen online, some of which received the most traffic through Facebook in all of 2016.  The list was compiled by Buzzfeed based on interactions with Fake News stories in 2016, some of which receiving upwards of 1.5 million interactions.

It would be quite hard to argue against the idea that this is altering our collective understanding.  How then do we sift through this?  How do we resolve this and how do we position ourselves in relation to it?  I think that’s the most important aspect of my project.  Not necessarily to make people aware of the mass media, because most people already are.  Its purpose is not to tell people what they already know.  I think the biggest thing I’d like to achieve is give people a greater sense of themselves in relation to what goes on around us all the time.  Our abilities to self-regulate are arguably quite compromised from being surrounded by so much uncertainty.  The prevalence of ‘fake news’ ensures that people don’t know what to believe, whether it’s true or not, from a reputable source or not.  It feels like we’ve got more information than ever before on such a multitude of topics, but we’re managing to be more uninformed than ever.

It could even be argued that this is some new form of propaganda.  By flooding the information sphere with fake news and sensationalistic articles, people are unsure of what to follow, or which things to believe.  This creates fear and resentment, and the lack of knowing breeds bias and discomfort.  Our lack of ability to judge what’s real or fake is quickly turning from news articles to a general distrust of the world around us, and of the other people on it.