Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

Archive for the ‘Identity’ Category

Gender, gadgets and Identity

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Wife as servant

Silly wife

This image was sent to my husband in one of those emails that has about 25 jpg attachments. All were ads from the 1960s and 1970s collated presumably because they all seem funny now. Each ad seems now being used to laugh at ‘the way we were’. Old ads depicting a different era, helping us to feel sophisticated and clever and think ‘ How naive we were’. And “so glad we are not like that now’. It’s all a bit smug really.

One way of reading this particular ad is the feminist way: the man is the wage earner and he has kindly bought his grateful wife a Kenwood Chef. She worships him; she is so happy. We the latter day feminists feel she is foolish; a dupe who is unknowingly her husband’s slave. We, in the present tense, are apparently superior.

Nowadays though, media representations of women and technology are more of this variety:

Here the technology is sexy and liberating. The dancing figure is clearly female, loving her life and feeling in control. She has leisure time and she has the cash to buy her own sleek, hold-in-the-hand mobile technology. She is able to dance. She is iPod woman. She is certainly not thinking about cooking (or eating). She only knows dance and fun.

I agree the ‘iPod girl’ seems to be a liberated woman. Not to put too fine a point on it though – she is sexy and a fat woman galumphing about woud not sell the product. All is not as liberated as we pretend. The detail of the graphics are like the gadget itself – cool, cool, super-cool and minimalist – pared down as a dramatic but sparse line drawing (in fact animation) against a dramatic coloured background. The background by the way, is the same as the colours available for the ipods … coming in pink, azure, lime green and whatnot. It is woman aligned with product – or even – woman as product . The marketing campaign did a great job. , (I really like the spoofs by the way). And these are not really about liberation but getting your cash one way or the other.

The Kenwood Chef is now seeing a revival and the whole cooking thing has been re-configured. We have all these TV programmes celebrating the frilly apron style of cooking again. It seems that the zeitgeist stuff of make do and mend; of home baking; of home grown; of ditsy cooky cutesy fashion, is also making a breakthrough and we need no longer feel ashamed of our cooking impulses.

Thank goodness because I wanted one and got one this last week. Yes dear readers. My husband bought it for me and I have been making bread, cakes, soups and even mashing potatoes in it. Because I love technology no matter what. And so we turn back again – is this a fresh look at feminism. I suspect not; I think it is a clever marketing move on the back of the recession, which pretends that if you make it yourself, you are doing it cheaper. But the love affair with technology lives on.

Just do this stuff with your eyes open. It is all consumerism. Whatever.

Written by DrJoolz

November 7th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Posted in everyday life,Identity

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No time to be my son (& distributed identities)

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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.

Written by DrJoolz

September 8th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Public / Private stuff

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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

see all the interesting comments under the photo. And then of course there are all the 365 groups which ask for one photo a day per year – and thousands of people commit to this. Fabulous, I say.

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:

Love 3>

Written by DrJoolz

January 13th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

wearable technology

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As if we really needed further signs that technology is overtaking our lives … one of the most traditional stores in the UK, Marks and Spencer, recently featured this suit with HIDDEN ipod pouch on its website. (You completely MUST click on the link and see the close up views … my friend told me that instore, this suit is held in the ‘gimp’ section. Oh dear.)

Here’s a screenshot:

(I am worried they will take off the image – tantalising though it is.)

The secrecy of the little thing means that you can hide the fact that you are listening to 2pac of Misteeq as you make your way across the city to the next hi powered meeting. But discretion is all a charade of course; minimalist is stylish and it is obligatory to arrive with earphones IN, but to hurriedly remove them. The great thing is that in fact you can either be listening to a podcast of The Archers, to good ol’ Melvyn on ‘In our Time’ or even Vegan Freaks.

I wonder though what was the sound when the “‘Muslim juror’ listened to iPod under hijab” as reported in The Times a coupla weeks ago. Apparently she now faces jail for this.

In the meantime I am delighted to announce that I too am giving the iPod another chance. After my long lasting railings and wailing about the demise of my first one way back in 2004 (after only using once) I took my courage in both hands and accepted a gift from TT

Actually I love it. I am just putting fast music on it as it will be my companion as I attempt to shift the lard from my body down at the gym. It can clip onto my great big trousers which I hope will get baggier and baggier.

So wearable technology for the naughty juror – subverting the image of the benign, pure, innocent , veiled and oppressed female; for the business man who wants to pretend to hide his funky identity under his suit … and then there’s me at the gym. Listening to music liked by the ‘woman of a certain age’ down the gym trying to stave off middle age. (Alongside rows of other wobbly ladies on a Sunday morning.)

Well. Technology does help blend the boundaries of our lives in many different ways. The ‘digital divide does exist, but it is certainly not a clear cut line through society and as participation widens and uses become more complex, theorists need to stop trying to put forward simple arguments about the impact on society and the self.

Written by DrJoolz

July 25th, 2007 at 5:59 am

identity kits

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Vic mentioned this wonderful new project, which takes the ‘What’s in my bag’ idea a bit further.

A long time ago I contributed this to the pool:


(Showing a bag I continue to use and will be using again this weekend when I go to this conference.)

It is clear that people do not reveal ‘all’ but construct images in a manner so that they represnt themselves in a way that they feel OK about going online. To do this, they need to think about how people might read the images – (what will they think? what associations do the objects have? what do they ‘connote’?); they need to know something about how objects represent aspects of their persona; they need to consider what to leave out as well as what to include. Maybe they arrange things so they look smart/show their label/hide their label/ look casual/ appear expensive/cheap. And the inclusion of images of faces taken on a scanner connotes something ludic; maybe a cross-reference to office parties and ‘parts of the body image making’ and a presentation of self that says @I am game’ ‘I am fun’ – ‘I live life madly’.

I am really interested in the ways in which we display online identities and have noticed the continuities in the ways some people present themselves across sites. For example they may begin a persona on a flickr stream and then deepen it through displays in other spaces… like Niznoz’s stream and his two blogs here and here; or Gamma’s stream and his blog. They are serious reporters of the city; they show something of ‘life as it is’; of the history and the way things are changing. NizNoz has two blogs, each with a different function.

People often use their blogs as a way of SPECIALISING. People use different parts of the web, different types of software to perform different tasks. And they are getting good at working out what is good for what task. This is a digital literacy skill; not everyone will ‘GET IT’ intuitively and so there is a role for researchers in working out what the conventions are and a role for educators in teaching about these things.

It has recently become trendy to represent oneself as a Simpson on Flickr and use the image as an icon of identity. YOu can get one via a new gadget available over at The Simpsons new movie website here. Obviously a lot to be written about re avatars and icons people use on websites, but no time here… must go.

But I’ll just leave you with the image my dear partner in life made of himself on Sunday. What kind of impression does he give here? (Answers on a postcard please).

Written by DrJoolz

July 2nd, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Girls – nattering on the net

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Want One?

Wow Thursday already. Time for an update. How about a trip to a website to see other people with the same name as you?
Go here.

Funny way to network… you can link up with others who share your name . It’s quite fun to see what’s there.

Maybe you are more interested in finding out that if you are in Britain now and reading this (which you are) you are more likely to be a woman between the ages of 18 and 34 than any other type of person… see here.

I am amazed by this:

They now account for 38% of game players. Women over 18 represent a significantly greater portion of game players compared to boys under 17.

This sounds whizzy and all counter intuitive, but then there ia also this list here:

  • iVillage Parenting Network
  • Huggies
  • The Full Experience Company
  • BBC Parenting
  • Galaxy Radio
  • Foxtons
  • La Senza
  • FCUK

which provides details of where most women are going online. Not so funky, huh?

The original report is here.

For those who are just getting into social networking online, you could do worse than start on Club Penguin … and to entice you …

Dress up your penguin, decorate your igloo, be the first to discover new areas and lots more, when you become a member!

But what is NOT mentioned here is the introduction to capitalist practices through networking – the poor little penguins have to work to earn money in order to do anything much on the site – by making pizzas…

Written by DrJoolz

June 21st, 2007 at 7:16 am

Blending Identities

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Originally uploaded by Trois Têtes (TT)

Went to Peace in the Park on Saturday. Some interesting stuff to photograph and saw a wonderful band Just Potatoes. The lead singer had the most beautiful rich Blues voice but could also belt out Waits’ Chocolate Jesus, giving a momentous performance.

Just Potatoes

(This is the singer from Just Potatoes.)

I found out about the event in several ways – all of which were to do with my ‘life online’ Firstly I took a photo last week of a a performer advertising the event – but only found out about the event after I took the shot for my Flickr stream (not yet uploaded); secondly I heard about the event on a discussion thread on Flickr; thirdly I heard about it via a contact on Ian Jones came up to me and said ‘Hi you’re DrJoolz aren’t you? I recognise you from Flickr …

So I went to an event prompted by online stuff… and when I was there I did stuff just so I could enhance my online activities… life online and off line have blurred boundaries …. and all this stuff about DrJoolz… Am I DrJoolz?? There is this thing about a textual self that I present … am I becoming it? (Or is it vice versa)

Life Online, huh? Blending Identities.

(Thanks to TT for the images.)

Written by DrJoolz

June 4th, 2007 at 7:20 am