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In these last 2 weeks of the Unit we are really focusing on the production of our research portfolios and I have finally decided on an overall question which covers all my research:

How has Myspace created new opportunites for self-representation?

I think that’s pretty clear and allows me the scope to talk about all the areas I’ve looked at, including my main area, self portraiture (and the digital image). I must now concentrate on getting my blog up-to-date and filling in all the missing sections.

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Last Thursday Andrea Rota spoke to us about issues of copyright and creative commons. As a result we all added a Creative Commons license to our blogs to protect our ideas without restricting their use for others research. There seem to be mixed feeling towards the ideas of copyrighting in the Blogsphere. Full copyright, i would seem to many, goes against the nature of blogging and the idea of sharing information, copy and pasting from one blog to another. There seems to be more support for Creative Commons where the user is able to choose the level of protection and ideas can be shared as long as there is adequate attribuition to the author. This is particularly relevant for a research blog, such as this.

Over the Easter break i created a FaceBook account all in the name of social networking research and have sadly become slightly adddicted. While Myspace is customisable via HTML and focused on creating personality within pages, FaceBook has taken the opposite route with it’s standard, non-editable profiles.

The key feature i’m interested within FaceBook however is the way it incorprates photos and tagging. While MySpace allows us to upload our images to our individual ‘pics’ page or create slide shows to embedd in profiles, it lacks the sharing aspect you would expect of Web 2.0. With FaceBook, when an image is uploaded the owner is asked to tag who ever appears in a picture. If the other subjects in the photo also have a FaceBook account, a message will appear in their profile telling them they have been tagged in a photo and the photo will be added to their “Photos” section. I really like this way of sharing and collecting photos and is partly one of the reasons I’m hooked on FaceBook.

With Easter nearly over it’s probably time to catch up with my blog and research before the final research document needs to be handed in.

My presentation went well and got some useful feedback and links to more research. In terms of actually defining a specific question that my research should focus on I feel i should move away from focusing so strongly on Representation and look more into Web 2.0 and how sites such as MySpace with it photo sharing facilites has changed our attitudes towards the way we use photos and who we share them with. But for now i can’t decide on the actual question so any help would be appreciated!

While unrelated to my own project I found this article in the Daily Telegraph today and found it relevant to the ideas of blogging and Web 2.0. There were 2 articles in the paper, both focusing on the difference in opinion over proposed ‘code of conduct’ that should be used to regulate the blogging community. In the first article on the front page it says that while some support this idea, others are less than happy to be controlled in such a way and feel that the freedom of expression offered by blogging will be lost. The idea, started by Tim O’Reilly is being dismissed as “well meaning but misguided”. The code is said to ask people not to post anonymous comments and also to not say anything that they would not be able to say in person. This initiative comes after a blogger started to recieve death threats via her blog.

In the second article on page 13 “Bloggers divided over call to be ‘civil in Cyberspace’ elaborates on the previous article showing the difference in opinion surrounding the proposed code. While many high profile bloggers support the code, others say the code would be unenforcable and restrict free speech. As one technology journalist states, the appeal of the blogosphere is in it’s freedom to express your ideas but with that comes the risk of unpleasant behaviour. As mentioned in the prevoius article many dismiss the code as misguided and say it will be very difficult to enforce and control.

There has been a gap in my postings, but rest assured I have been working hard to combine all my ideas and findings into a presentation to be given tomorrow.

I’ve tried to include as much theory as possible without making it too dull, but was sure to include Danah Boyd, Jill Walker and Heather Champs ideas as i think they were most influential in the shaping of my research. I also included several of the images i recieved via MySpace and tried to analysis them using the theory and ideas i have come across. Asides from the the actual standing up and speaking, i am confident that i have succinctly presented all the key points.

If you look in the reading and comments section i have also added a more detailed write up on Boyd’s and Walker’s essay and will add further comments soon. Once my presentation has been given i will also add my notes to this sections as they act as a good summary of all the ideas.

After showing my research in progress to the group I’m now aware that I have found a large amount of information covering a range of ideas all focusing around the idea of online representation and identity construction. I must now start reading through it all, narrowing my focus and drawing some conclusions in preparation for my presentation on the 28th March.

While I want the majority of my focus to be on the self-portraits and images we post for all to see on MySpace, I also want to provide some background to the social networking phenomenon and also look, in general, at how we represent ourself and construct our identity through the profiles we create and the text we add. I think this approach will give a better overview to my ideas and put my self-portrait research into context.

For now, I’m going to focus on going over all the essays, links and blog entries I have cited, picking out relevant information that I can use in my presentation and honing my research.

I have started collecting and posting the self portraits that have been sent to me through MySpace. The comments people have proivided are very insightful and offer good explanations to the photographs.

Common themes I have identified are that people will often take multiple photographs, allowing them to choose from the best ones, so these images are carefully planned, rather than ‘off the cuff’ snap shots. In this sense the image, and therefore the representation of identity, is constructed. For those who ‘photoshop’ their images, it is used as a tool for removing features they would like to edit in real life, such as spots or blemishes. These photos cannot be said to be true representations, but this begs the question, can any photo be said to be a 100% accurate representation?

For all the images and comments click on my Self Portrait section

Searching through Google and others blogs I found some relevant news articles which can be found here.

These articles talk about the importance of the self portrait as a form of representation online, and how and why people use certain photographs to show their personality to others. There are several references to the emergence of cheap and accessible digital technology that has led to the up-surge in online self portraits.

In order to fully engage with my project and understand social networking sites, I must first understand Web 2.0 and it’s emergening practices and concepts. For a full, indepth summary of Bryan Alexanders article Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning? see my Readings and Comments section.

This reading looks at Web 2.0, not as a brand new phenomenon, but rather a gradual evolving from more traditional web pratices and concepts. He looks at:

social softwaree.g sites that allow the sharing of thoughts and information such as blogs, wiki’s and Myspace
microcontente.g the move away from the ‘book/page’ structure of the web, such as blogs, podcasts, rss
openesse.g the 2-way flow of information found in collaborative projects such as Wikipedia and P-2-P file sharing and RSS
folksonomye.g photo tagging, for example the type used in Flickr

All of these concepts, which i have discussed in more detail in my reading summary, are concepts which have emerged and developed through original Web practices, but, unlike more traditional webpages, encourage the 2-way sharing, editing and consuming of information.

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