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.

Image result for information is beautiful

Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communications // FMP

“Communication technologies and global interconnectedness provide people with ready direct access to information worldwide independent of time and place and unfettered by institutional and moneyed gatekeepers.  The public is less dependent on a mediated filter-down system of persuasion and enlightenment.  These vastly expanded opportunities for self-directedness underscore the growing primacy of agentic initiative in human adaptation and change in the electronic era.  Ready access to communication technologies will not necessarily enlist active participation unless people believe they can achieve desired results by this means.  Perceived personal and collective efficacy partly determines the extent to which people use this resource and the purposes to which they put it.” – Albert Bandura, Stanford University.

“The media play an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy. Without mass media, openness and accountability are very tough to reach in contemporary democracies. The media can inform the public of how effectively the current government or candidates have performed in the past and help to them to account. Nevertheless, mass media can also hinder political transparency as well as help it. Politicians and political operatives can simulate the political virtues of transparency through rhetorical and media manipulation. There are three major societal functions that mass media perform to the political decisions raised by the political scientist Harold Lasswell: surveillance of the world to report ongoing events, interpretation of the meaning of events, and socialization of individuals into their cultural settings. The mass media regularly present politically crucial information on huge audience and it also represents the reaction from the audience rapidly through the mass media. The government or the political decision makers have the chance to have a better understanding of the real reaction from the public of those decisions they have made.”

 

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.

Image result for journey under the sea ra montgomery

42 possible endings – limitless fun!

Something to Think About // FMP

Societal norms and how this impacts our decision making process in relation to how we project ourselves and assess our self-worth.

“Social norms or mores are the rules of behaviour that are considered acceptable in a group or society. People who do not follow these norms may be shunned or suffer some kind of consequence. Norms change according to the environment or situation and may change or be modified over time.”

Mass media and its impact on our understanding and collective consciousness – how are we impacted by what we see around us?  Do we make conscious decisions based on this or are we ‘groomed’ into thinking a certain way?

How does a Culture of Fear in modern media impact our general well-being and how we perceive the world around us.  Is it positive or negative?  What is the impact?

In what ways do we ‘choose’ a path.  Are we simply pin-balled between ideas and information at random, eventually finding a path that is linear in line with social norms and what is ‘expected’.  How much of our actions are choice?  How much is inaction?

How does the media influence our perception of what is normal?  What would happen if we were left to our own devices and encouraged to make decisions for ourselves, free from the influence of what is being told to us?

Media provides new information that persuades individuals to accept it (individual channel), but also, media informs listeners about what others learn, thus facilitating coordination (social channel).

https://wp.nyu.edu/ericarias/wp-content/uploads/sites/641/2016/04/AriasCommonKnowledge.pdf

Pessimism, Optimism, empathy and sympathy.

Is the media responsible for the dissemination of facts, or as an influential tool of governments and organisations to impact what is considered normal?

“Social norms marketing includes marketing techniques, such as mass media and face-to-face campaigns, that are designed to alter individuals’ perceptions of social norms, specifically perceptions of attitudes and behaviours that are typical or desirable in their community.”

“Public information not only causes individuals to update their personal beliefs, but
also allows them to update their beliefs about how widely these beliefs are shared (Morris
and Shin, 2002). That is, public information is used to know that others received the information, and that everyone who received the information knows that everybody else that received the information knows this, and so on, creating common knowledge. In this vein, some authors argue that “attempts to change public behaviours by changing private attitudes will not be effective unless some effort is also made to bridge the boundary between the public and the private.”

http://www.personal.psu.edu/bfr3/blogs/applied_social_psychology/2011/11/medias-influence-on-social-norms-and-identity-development-of-youth.html

“So what is identity? For starters, we technically are not born with identity; it is a socially constructed attribute.  The self-concept, which is the knowledge of who we are, combines with self awareness to develop a cognitive representation of the self, called identity (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010, p.118).  In other words, who we are is controlled by internal and external factors that combine to make us who we become. Add in new media outlets, such as the internet, and media is now considered an “extension of everyday life and a tool of cultural change” (Singh, 2010).  Thus, identity formation, as a social concept, is being transformed in new and even more global ways.”

Cause and effect between Social Norms and Mass Media.
Does Mass Media simply act as a mirror to our social norms, or are our social norms dictated to us by the media?

https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=firefox-b-ab&biw=1280&bih=721&q=impact+of+social+media+on+identity&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjri5fIiLTSAhViIMAKHU35ASoQ1QIIVCgA

https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/rsa-blogs/2013/01/is-social-networking-redefining-identity

https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=firefox-b-ab&biw=1280&bih=721&q=media+influence+on+identity+formation&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjri5fIiLTSAhViIMAKHU35ASoQ1QIIWSgF

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.

HP World on Wheels

So I’ve just discovered about this project being run by HP in India.  Current estimates put about 4 billion of the world’s population without access to internet.  This really stumps my solution, but this is a solution for a world ten years from now, so it still feels appropriate.  With this HP initiative on my mind, I’ve thought about how I could marry this in with my idea.  It does say on the brief about how could brands/companies tie into the role of education in the future, and this is something I really want to explore further.

Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 22.30.50.png

Read the rest of the article here.

Real World – Clients, Stakeholders and Mentors

Well and truly thrown it at the deep end on our first Monday back.  We were briefed on our first project, ‘Real World’, which as it says on the tin is a real life, real client, real outcomes project.  The brief from Wendy included telling us about what sorts of things past years have done, what the project would entail and sort of how to tackle it.  Our clients then came in at 11 to fully explain what it is they want.

Our client is the University itself which I think is quite different than how it’s been in past years – I don’t know if this will make it easier or harder…  We’ll see.  Essentially they University wants to implement a ‘Healthy University’ initiative, which needs to be a lot more three dimensional than perhaps typically expected.  We, the students, have been split up into several teams which are each responsible for a different aspect of the initiative.  My team have been given the Environment, and our target audience is other students.  There is a central premise to the idea of a ‘healthy’ university, and the idea is to promote well-being issues, environmental issues, equality/diversity, and create an atmosphere within the university of acceptance and ‘health’ (whatever that may be, as we are of course aware that this means different things to different people at different times, depending on their cultural backgrounds and lifestyle choices.  This is the first of many problems I feel we might encounter on this journey of finding a ‘healthy’ university).

The briefing from the client was exceptionally vague, with our team listening out for the environment team discussing their plans within the Healthy University scheme.  We got our turn, but were left wondering what was expected of us.  The environment slide had three bullet points on it, along with a vague explanation of what the University may or may not think would be useful.  We were told of some things already put in place by the University, for example that Cardiff Met sends no waste to landfill, which of course is positive, but that the students tend not to engage with this message, or in fact any environmental message from the University.  We, as students, are aware of this, and discussed with each other how there is a massive disconnect between the business-like university, and the student population.  The University runs green initiatives and hosts ‘green’ days, etc, but these are all very corporate feeling, and disseminating this information to students tends to be via email which inevitably gets lost in the sea of emails we receive each week.

It’s hard to see at this point where we’ll go, or what even is being asked of us.  I’m sure we’ll figure it out.