As a starting point i posted this bulletin via MySpace this morning and also posted it as a blog entry on my profile:

“hands up who wants to help me with my social networking project???

I’m looking at MySpace and the way we represent ourselves for all the world to see through our profiles and, in particular, our self portrait photographs. If you’d like to get involved then all you have to do is send me the photo (preferably one you’ve taken yourself) that says the most about you, and maybe a few sentences about how it represents your personality. This photo may be used in my final presentation and possibly posted on my blog

I’ve got a blog entry on my page about the project and also a research blog which is
https://digitalizzie.wordpress.com/. Who would have thought that i’d make something academic out of all my time on myspace??

Any questions, just message or comment me”

I hope that people will offer some photographs and comments that will help me reach some conclusions about self portraiture and representation.

I’ve decided to focus the majority of my MySpace research project on Photography and the way we represent oursleves through photographs and in particular, self portraits.

This idea developed from talking to a Digital Photography student at my university who created a collection of photographs taken from MySpace members who defined themselves as ‘depressed’. He used the photographs, as well as extracts from their blogs. I find this concept really interesting and like the idea that photographs can be used to express personality and character.

I was told of an article called Mirror and Shadows: The Digital Aestheticisation of Oneself’ by Jill Walker. In this paper she looks at the digital self portrait and how we use it to represent ourselves alongside autographical online narratives and weblogs. One particular site that is of interest is The Mirror Project , a collection of photographs that show self portraits taken in a range of reflective surfaces. Walker suggests that images of ourselves that we show the world are “not about trying to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about oneself”, and so we can alter and manipulate our images before we make them public.

In this sense, the photos we choose to post on sites such as MySpace are very important, as they are an opportunity to demonstrate and show others our personality. The photo must show elements of our character, and we can choose whether these elements are truthful characteristics or ones we would like to have.

Heres some possible questions that i’ve come up with in narrowing my focus on such a huge potential topic such as myspace. These questions come from others research projects i have looked at:

With our myspace profiles, are we creating a ‘real’ representation of ourselves?

Are our profiles an extenstion of ourselves? Or do we alter the ‘real’ via our photos or written thoughts?

Do we put as much time and effort into our layouts and backgrounds as we do, the clothes we put on in the morning?

These questions all relate to the production of identity and it would seem that social networking has provided us with options about the way we are able to produce and shape our online identity.

I’ve begun looking into others research surrounding social networking and have found it to be a popular topic. One particular site Apophenia, the personal blog of social networking scienctist Danah Boyd. This is a great resource for ideas and avenues to explore. She encourages collaboration and sharing of ideas between all those carrying out social networking research I particulaly like the work of Danah Boyd herself, the site has links Boyd’s papers. In Why Youth ♥ Myspace she talks about how American youths use Myspace and social networking sites for “identity production and socialisation in contempoary American society”, talking about the phenomenon since it’s beginnings in 2003 to present day where it has more ‘hits’ a day that any page on the Internet, asides from Yahoo. For a review of this paper see my Readings and Comments section.

As I mentioned in my previous posts i’m keen to find out how and why people are using MySpace, the age range of it’s users and what they hope to gain from their experience, so i may begin my own research by posting a bulletin out to my personal ‘friends’ (a some might say measly 71) asking specific questions such as:

1. A/S/L?
2. Total of Friends?
3. How many of those Friends do you actually know in person (approx)?
4. Do you use MySpace Video, MySpace Music etc?
5. Do you use it in a Proffessional capacity?

These sorts of questions will allow me to gather my own statistics and data.

In this lesson we looked at Podcasting and were asked to open an account with Odeo or Switchpod , 2 podcast hosting sites. A podcast is a media file that can be searched and downloaded, the contents of which can vary from informative news stories to fictional or autobiographical podcasts or music.

As an example, i have uploaded a song available at Odeo

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/2001528/players]

For information on embedding flash players in WordPress go to this blog post

Thinking about possible project ideas focusing around the ways in which people socialise and network using the features synonomous with Web 2.0, I was taken with the idea of looking at MySpace.com. The social phenomenon that is MySpace combines a wide range of social computing and networking tools. Primarily, as their slogan suggests, MySpace is “A place for friends” and utilises the networking features of interlinked, searchable profiles. As well as this the profiles can include blogs, photos, videos and music, all hyperlinked and connected to outside, associated websites.

I think it would be interesting, as a user of MySpace, to research how others use this site for their own personal or professional motives, possibly focusing on the way in which bands can use it as a promotional tool and how some, such as The Arctic Monkeys, achieved mainstream success from an intial cult following from a MySpace profile created by fans.

I will begin by finding other peoples research into myspace and social networking sites, gathering statistics and trying to find a specific angle or question that interests me.

Aside from simple text, blogs can include sound, photographs and video. Stairwell Anyone from the amatuer presenting their holiday pictures, to the professional artist getting their work to the masses, the inclusion of media in a blog allows greater expression of your thoughts. Sites such as Flickr and Photobucket allow us to easy store and share our photographs.

Sites such as YouTube allow us to upload and share our videos, animations and tutorials with the world. Here is an example aiming to teach us about Web 2.0

Taking the Wikipedia definition “RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts.”

Using an aggregator system such as Bloglines, a free service, a user can chose the blogs, news sites or publishers of podcasts that are of interest, save the URL and receive regular upadate when the contents of the site is updated.

RSS feeds encourage the flow of information, and as opposed to hyperlinks, the information is delivered to us, rather than us having to click the link to take us to the information. RSS feeds are particulary useful for subscribing to a blog or special interest, as you recieve the new updates as and when the author posts.

Blogs are a way of making your personal thoughts and opinions private, for all the world to see and comment on. You can start your own blog for free from a range of websites, for example:

www.wordpress.com

www.blogger.com

www.livejournal.com

Once you’ve chosen your site, follow the simple instructions to create your own blog. From there you can customise and personalise your blogging space, create and publish your own posts as well as start looking at other peoples blogs, leaving comments and maybe creating an online social network. As well as text, blogs can also contain images, videos and sounds.

There are now thought to be an estimated 60 million blog owners across the world each offering individual thoughts and views on a vast range of subjects. While a blog can be a personal account of ones life, they can also be group owned and edited, maximising the collaborative potential. Corporations and proffesionals alike will use blogs to promote their businesses or ideas, and artists and designers can benefit from the feedback and criticisms available. Paquet (2003) highlights 5 main features of the blog:

1) The personal editorship and personal censorship
2) The Hyperlinked structure allowing for maximum interactivity
3) Frequent updates
4) Free and public access, making it available all
5) The chronological ordering process

Aside from being an online journal of your own thoughts, blogs can be used in an educational way and much research had been done in this area, looking at the effect the inclusion of blogging has on the teaching evironment. In Anne Bartlett-Bragg’s article Blogging to Learn she talk of the benefits that blogging can have for both students and teachers. She suggests that the inclusion of blogging encourages ‘deep learning’ whereby a student activley explores the material and seeks out further links and areas of interest, seeking out connections between concepts and ideas. She also points out that it allows student to collaborate and publish their thoughts and ideas, receiving feedback and criticisms from a wider, diverse audience.

This is my Practice in Context blog for my Digital Media Arts degree. Over the next 12 weeks I will use it to compile my research into social computing and new media practices. For more information on this see the Research Aim page in the right-hand column

August 2017
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