Archive for the ‘everyday life’ Category
Oh I so hate it when supermarket staff try and make you check out your own shopping at the supermarket. This is one area of technology I cannot STAND. If you have a bag of golden plums to weigh, they will not have a picture of them to press and the ‘lady’ has to come and help you. If you buy pre-packed stuff, the bar code won’t scan properly. If you pick up something reduced it freaks out. But the worst thing is when you put something in the bag, it starts screaming that ‘there is an unexpected item in the bagging area’ and no matter what you do it keeps freaking. What does it expect anyway? I won’t even begin to tell you what happens if you don’t want to use their cruddy carrier bags but use your own environmentally friendly (and more stylish) bag.
I think I prefer old fashioned shops where you get served; where you don’t have the moral dilemma of all the buy one get one free offers (and the pain of throwing half of it away too); and in general where you don’t have to buy vast quantities. I also like to have a chat with the shopkeepers and they rarely want to say much when they are sitting at the till with a massive queue of people to deal with.
I wonder though, what technology would improve the shopping experience in supermarkets. Any ideas?
Yesterday my daughter sent me a link to a video on YouTube. I thought it was brilliant and decided to send it to my husband the next day. But he beat me to it and sent me the link this morning. And so did a colleague. It was this:
It really made me laugh and is of course up my street as it showed how people learn to use new technologies – even older people who feel nervous – by just twiddling about with stuff and experimenting. (Actually the guy in this does a bit too much twiddling imo). I remember I accidentally filmed myself when I got a video camera about 12 years ago … it was recording and I did not realise. Can be quite comedic. But anyhow putting this kind of thing on YouTube etc gives us rare insights into how people learn at home . there is a lot of this stuff online – but not always as funny as this (remember the one when the guy slings the Wii controller into the telly?)
But I do also love how these things go viral so quickly – and this couple is very sweet. I think they warmed the hearts of people all over the world and that is a very new thing brought to us courtesy of web 2.0 technologies. Who said social networking was a bad thing? This couple is totally heart warming!
At the same time as Rosa sent me the link to this, she also sent me a link to a meme that really made e laugh. It began with this rather innocuous image here:
It has been spoofed by lots of people here and it has really made me laugh. This is what I think of as a true meme. I have more stuff on memes in this blog – type ‘meme’ in the search box on the right and see more examples.
I was telling some friends of mine about the next stage for my Facebook research. One of them was immediately excited about this, saying how much she hates Facebok … ‘I think it’s terrible. Even when he is at home with us, he has to keep up appearances with is friends. They are forever commenting and LOLing. I just wish he could sometimes just relax, be a kid with us and not be forever on call. It’s like he has no time just to be my son.’
A very interesting insight I thought. It made me wonder. I suppose it means he is ‘enacting being a friend ‘ when he is in a context away from his friends. He is ‘doing’ an identity that belongs to another context. But to him, he feels he is with friends when he is on Facebook.
This is Clare after she had taken a photo of me. She emailed the shot to my husband. (Dobbing me in for bad behaviour). So sometimes in real life, you can’t get away from the fact that your behaviour is reflected out elsewhere. These days, we have distributed identities.
For me, films come and go and I so often only remember them very sketchily a week or so later. However I saw Never Let Me Go more than three weeks ago now and I still think about it most days. Similarly I saw Oranges and Sunshine about a fortnight ago and it it haunts me.
I have not yet read Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel but will do before long. Oranges and Sunshine was not a novel but a social-worker’s account (originally published as Empty Cradles) of how up to 150,000 children were deported from the UK to Australia between the 1940s and 1970s. The children, once in Australia were treated very cruelly – often involved in child labour, and often being lied to that their parents were dead. This all seems pretty incredible and more so that no -one seemed to know about it until the mid 80s. It was one of those things that was whispered about by those involved. Why did no -one blow the whistle? Amazing.
Never Let Me Go, on the other hand, a work of fiction, describes the relationship between three children brought up together in a boarding school for cloned children. Their destiny is to become donors of organs until ‘completion’ (ie till they die). The setting seems to be around the 1970s – 1990s. I think maybe because I was at school in the 1970s this seemed so resonant and so real. In some ways it seemed more real than Oranges and Sunshine. Perhaps it was the way most of the setting of the film is totally credible; set in a very authentic past that stayed true to the era throughout. Mixing in fiction with historical ‘reality’ in this way makes the thing ’stand up’.
So much of this weird scenario rang true, especially looked at beside Oranges and Sunshine – which exemplifies how whole scale mistreatment of people can become condoned by those who may at first object. We very quickly turn away from human rights issues when they seem to happen on a grand scale, thinking that is the way it must be. If some people behave as if there is nothing wrong, then others seem to fall in with that way of behaving; it is normalised.
Strangely, these films were not the best acted, nor the best produced films I have seen lately. But they have really penetrated my thoughts in a disturbing way. Each one is so different, one is based on fiction, one on non-fiction. Both are about children and we often see children as a subset of people, who have not got rights yet; who will become people to take account of when they are adults – kids as ‘people in the making’. . Across the world there are groups of people who seem to be seen as subsets of humanity and we do not recognise their rights in the way we should – often to do with where they are born, or when. These films place human rights squarely in the frame and while one may seem surreal, it has very strong roots in the real world.
I love the way technology insinuates itself into so many areas of our lives. It helps to make everything join up together – making all these connections between people, things, activities , interests.
One example is the website walk, jog, run. My neighbour told me about it. You can use it to plot your running routes so others can follow. But you can read other people’s routes and follow them. You can use the site to hook up with other runners and find out about local events. I did this run designed by someone else. It was quite exciting as I hoped to see the designer of the run – I may have done as I saw a few people jogging along. It makes the whole affair companionable. I like the way I can use this software in such a local way. It is yet another example of how we use the WORLDWIDE web to usually do stuff in our neighbourhood (preferring LOCAL to GLOBAL).. (I have written more about this kind of stuff here ).
Perhaps better still are sites like this one which connects with wearable computers you run with – equipped for example with a GPS and heartrate monitor and so on. It taps into all the obsessions of so many runners (cyclists etc) and allows them to display everything on Facebook – for example. here is another example, where someone can log a run and show all the details of their run, their heartrate and speed etc.
I think it is amazing that some people hate that we are constantly being monitored n the street by cameras, yet others (or maybe the same people) , show the most intimate (I think) details about how their body works, (and more) to all their friends (and more) online. This is not just about tracking our performance, but inviting others to do so as well. Some would say this was showing off, some would say it is about sharing.
More info here. Note the 340++ reviews
Ah the blog. I am coming back to it – driven by a pact with Eve that we will write weekly because we think it will help our thinking. Maybe this will also pave the way back for me to Twitter. A long gap of not writing here, partly caused by the fear that things may get personal when I did not want to mix up thoughts about heart attacks, cancer and research into Web 2.0. But in fact they are inextricably mixed as they weave through my life and so I guess will all at some point emerge somehow here. Why? Because web 2.0 technologies somehow bring together the public and the private, and maybe that is because web 2.0 is so much a part of our personal lives. Perhaps this is what is scary to so many people and thrilling to others. The Internet (and especially social networking sites) weaves around us, mediates and constructs, pushes and pulls as we push and pull at it.
That’s all. I am being vague & mysterious this week as there is time later to be profound and clear.
So below is a mash up from the beach – whose relevance is vaguely that this blog will bring you all the stuff that has washed up during my week.
We all now know that poor old Gordon got caught unawares talking about a prospective voter in unflattering terms. After a walkie talkie stroll a couple of weeks ago, he had to try and be diplomatic with a woman who had (at best) some seriously strange views and weird questions to ask. At worst, she was a bigot – and maybe many of us would agree.
I think it is very normal to do what Gordon did; grin and bear it, be polite to her face, and slag her off afterward. This according to most linguistic ethnographers is normal; Ron Carter found that the most common topic of everyday talk is about other people. Also sociologist Erving Gofmann would say that Gordon just wanted to save the woman’s face and not attack her in public; so was polite to HER, but then slagged her off after. I know we all pretend we don’t do this; but you and I know, that this is what we all do.
The advent of new technologies meant that Gordon got caught being normal. He thought he was talking in private, but his comments were broadcast publicly because he left his microphone switched on. So he attempted to talk privately; journalists overheard, and then publicized it across worldwide media. Gordon was revealed saying something in private, and the reaction given was outrage. He was slated in the press for this incident days and weeks after. I anticipate it will be re-called repeatedly in years to come. Poor Gordon.
Technology broadcast the words of Paul Chambers also, in ways he had not anticipated. Tweeting in exasperation about the closure of Robin Hood airport, he joked to his friends (he thought) that he would blow up the place:
“Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”
Poor old Paul; his tweet got read by a wider audience than he imagined, and he was contacted by the police … then done for time wasting.
How many of us tweet away; rabbit on on Facebook; blather on our blogs; (etc) without ever dreaming that more than our envisaged readership is reading?
We often forget how technology can make what we think of as a private space, a public one. By the same token, we sometimes confuse a public space with a private one.
We have to learn to be careful with new technologies. (Even when we remember their power most of the time …. sometimes we forget).
Here’s some nice technology for teachers:
I have been interested to see that the British tv and radio have had quite a lot of stuff about diaries recently. Richad E Grant hosting something, ‘Dear Diary’ for example. This documentary features diaries kept by a number of people over many years… the iplayer info explains:
Richard E Grant, a diarist since childhood, uncovers the power of the diary. He considers the diaries of Joe Orton, Kenneth Williams, Erwin James, John Diamond and Rosemary Ackland and asks whether a diary should, or could, ever be totally honest, wholly accurate and absolutely true.
I was surprised to find the first in this treble episode series to be quite riveting; Richard is quite posh so I found it fun watching him amble about poshly and awkwardly asking nosey questions (pretending not to be famous and giggling like a kid) – there is this great part where his wife calls him while he is doing a webcam thing and he answers ‘I’m just doing the diary programme’ or some such. Anyhow this is all quite weird as we watch him question diarists about why they keep diaries all their lives. He asks whether people should be totally honest – and I thought that interesting as paper based diaries tend to be thought of as quintessentially private writings – unlike blogs, of course. So it is strange to ask whether people should be honest – when there seems to be moral outrage if blogs do not seem to be honest. Why would you be less than honest in a private diary? Today the radio mentioned that the Green Goddess has kept a diary since she was a kid (and is now 70) . Then (Lady) Antonia Fraser was on book of the week reading her diary about her life with Harold Pinter.
So all this stuff about writing in a private way and going public with it is totally age old and I just find it fascinating that there seems to be this widespread interest … also Dr Irving Finkel is assistant keeper in The Middle Eastern Department of the British Museum and his collection of private diaries, written by ‘ordinary people’ appears in the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition ‘Identity: Eight rooms, nine lives’ which runs until April. (I would like to go) It was funny as he was talking about how apparently boring diaries are interesting as they show us things about ourselves. On the radio he read excerpts which included things like ‘ I really hate Lindsay; I hate her hate her” etc…. showing that teenagers have always been the same! But I will be very interested to see if any critics slate this exhibition for being banal – in the same way as they often slate Twitter, or blogs for being so. Or will the fact that they are written on paper (and are a bit less than contemporary) save them this fiercesome criticism? I think that we love to see traces of people – and I like to see the lives of ORDINARY people. There is something that immediately makes things seem special if you put them in a museum – maybe it is the glass cabinet effect that CHANGES the meanings.
Fascinating also, is the stuff you find on Flickr that is so diary -ike. Check out this custom made diary from Traveliter
Interesting this desire to leave traces of ourselves everywhere; the web allows us to distribute the narrative across spaces and time and to share aspects of our lives and to provide a particular version (or brand) of ourselves.
The Guardian reported today on someone who one day, scarily, burned every photo he ever took …a professional photographer who had had ENOUGH. he said ‘Photography was dead by 1972′
I am so glad he is less right; i.e. wrong.
Here are some traces of people doing identity work:
It seems to be taking ages to get the year off to a start. The snow is still slowing everythng down and so I hardly feel I am off the starting blocks. In January there always remain a few post-Christmas traces…. not just the extra weight on my scales… but also stuff like unfinished chocolates:
and bits of tinsel still stuck between the carpet tufts. Beautiful as it sometimes is, the snow has been making it hard to get about. It seems quiet everywhere.
As I have been mentioning the last few weeks, I have been getting into Flickr again and been thinking about good shots to take and enjoying looking at things others are taking. I really love Sophies’ Photos and was interested in how this particular image draws on the book by Annette Kuhn – something I have used in an article I wrote for Discourse. What I have started to become interested in now, is images which show traces of what has been; which show a history. You have to be like an archeologist and look for clues – look at the layers of meaning, at the traces of what is there. This idea relates in some way to palimpsest; there is a good definition(illustrated) in the Palimpsest Flickr group here. Palimpsest might be this kind of thing:
this paring away of text is something that appeals to me and reminds me of the research process which involves tracings and the discernment of patterns – making sense from little things you gather. I am looking forward to February when I will FINALLY have the space to write my article on Streetart and spaces and how narratives can travel across time and space – often aided by online technologies. I talked about this kind of thing in Toronto – July 2008; details here.
And then I will focus on Facebook, where I will be researching how multimodal narratives travel across spaces via multiple, dispersed authors. Yes. That is what I will be doing soon.
Davies, J. (2007) ‘Display; Identity and the Everyday: Self-presentation through online image sharing’. In Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education. Vol. 28, No. 4, December 2007, pp. 549_564.
Aaaaahhh. That feels a lot better now.
It seems that it is becoming much more common place to accept that social media is OK; that the big media people are coming along with us. That journalists and social commentators are getting stuff published which says that we can carry on Tweeting, blogging, facebooking, YouTubing … etc. Cory Doctorow has this in The Guardian. He argues that:
Criticising social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook is as pointless as knocking people who discuss the weather.
Such a relief to read this kind of stuff which recognises the social function of online activity. You never know, one day people may no longer have to defend the fact that they watch Coronation Street (or deny that they do). It seems that it is still not the case that television has ever totally shaken the ‘chewing gum for the eyes’ type of snobbery it attracted when I was at school (some 33 or more years ago). If things get popular really quickly then it seems that there is always some kind of backlash which assumes that just because the masses love it, it must be bad. There is an assumption that mass consumption means mass idiocy. But maybe, just maybe, lots of people can recognise a good thing when they see it.
Anyhow, here’s a tree which looks vaguely rhizomatic and networky: