Student Life

A Round Up

So, on my blog I started talking about a module I’d been taking at University: Media Tech. I wrote about it for two reasons if I am honest. Firstly, it wasn’t like any other module I’d ever taken and so, as a way to understand what I was learning I thought blogging about it would help. It is like the saying you hear throughout education.

“If you want to understand, then teach it to someone else and you’ll see how easy it is to learn…”  

And secondly, it seemed interesting enough to add on my blog because, it is diary-like, I wanted to show my interest and my struggle. But, as assignments wore on I had less time to blog which led to me dropping the ball…sorry. So, I’ve decided to write a conclusion to the module to finish my little blogging post off which, with my nature, leaving something half-finished is annoying!

So, the last thing I wrote about was FRED week and I could summarize each class but, that will take ages but, if you want to see the assignments I completed then please click here  and you’ll be taken to my blog posts but, I will reflect on the assignments as well!

The Assignments- the first assignment, I can admit was hard and stressful and with other personal issues-draining. But, I managed to complete the assignment which I was very happy with overall. Because if I’m honest I thought I’d fail this module after I sat through the first class. My brain was over-loaded. We had to create a working prototype, then a presentation to sell our working prototypes, and then two blog posts- one on reflection and the other on the product- again selling it to the world. Alongside, that we had other assignments for other modules which were equally as stressful as I had to work with new people, and write in ways I never had before. We created ShakeItUp with the idea that different cultures and countries could mix around the world, joining forces to play drinking games or create mocktails. There were times when I felt like giving up but, it made me believe in my ability to create something and see that I could do more than I thought I was capable of!

Now the second assignment was due after Christmas and we just received the marks for it. I was pleasantly surprised with what I achieved. But, I did really enjoy the assignment. I chose to write about Hybrid Cloud Computing for a couple of reasons- firstly as a self-admitted untechy person I wanted to learn about something I knew nothing of, but it had to be interesting and we all have cloud software. As I found a network of articles, I believed I could write this assignment. And I did. My parents read over most of my work- I hope they learnt something- to tell me if my work makes sense. My aim is if they can understand the idea, then it is something I will submit. It was the easier of the two assignments I attempted over Christmas and at times I struggled, and at one point I cried! (my computer stopped responding, closed everything down and I had to rewrite about 900 words as it went to the save where I had my introduction written and nothing else). Now, there is some irony-maybe I should have backed up to the cloud! Or on a memory stick. It taught me something new, it challenged me and that is why I enjoyed the assignment.

The Module- I’m going to be honest, it was not my favourite module-moral panics took that spot- and at times I felt like a breakdown was needed but, I stuck by the module and my guns-raising my issues- AND I’m happy I did. There were time I was lost, I had a week off due to illness and came back thinking I was in an alien world but, there were times where I was proud of myself because I had grasped a theory, or achieved something I didn’t think was possible. And I guess, that is what a module is supposed to do! It’s supposed to push you further, otherwise why am I paying this money. Would I have preferred this module in a less stressful year-not dissertation year? Yes, it wouldn’t have stressed me out as much. You see it is impossible to say this module was bad, it could have been better but, I can see the merit of learning about technology and how this applies to Media. Its an interesting perspective, and I’m glad I took it despite all the stress because it pushed me, it forced myself to learn in a new way-although I like my old way better- and although I dragged my feet, I enjoyed the second assignment immensely.

Here comes my funny little anecdote…

So, my dad was reading my Hybrid Cloud Computing work and I speak about the Panopticon- a symbolic representation of surveillance society…you’ll have to read my blog posts to understand it. Anyway, he read that part about a surveillance society and bluntly announced- and that’s why I don’t like Cloud technology, you don’t know who is looking and what they read. Let me make myself clear, despite this my dad is the person in my family who wants to understand how his tech works? Well, I find out and then write instructions but, then I also sit and explain to him how it works…

To read about hybrid cloud computing click here, here, and here!

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Student Life

Hidden Treasures!

I have stumbled upon a hidden gem while, doing research for a university assignment. Imagine yourself sat down, getting ready to perform research into a topic you have no idea about. Where is the first place you go? Me, Wikipedia but only for the references. If you look in the references you’ll discover millions of academic articles that people may have used and/or find useful with the topic. I’m not saying that you should use the actual Wikipedia page, except maybe to get a slight overview but always look in the references. This is for two reasons; firstly, if you find something that states what is being said then use that as it’ll be a more legitimate source and secondly, you never know what you’ll find.

So, onto this hidden gem. It was near the top of the references but, as I’m looking into privacy on social networking sites and in the title it had Facebook, I thought it would be useful. It also caught my eye because of the end of the hyperlink .edu which means normally this is associated with education so, if an institution can have it on their site then it should be something you look at. In order, to make this post ‘easy reading’ I’m going to break the article down into sections and then I’ll provide the link-referenced of course if you find yourself wanting to have a look.

A tidbit that I just learned is that this article was this article is one of the first discussions upon Facebook and Privacy, as it was created in 2005 (this tidbit is thanks to my lecturer).  However, do not dismiss the article due to age. The older ones provide a framework for newer works but also, they breakdown the subjects a lot better as it was (when it was produced) a new subject academics were commentating upon.

Introduction

Back in 2005, we’d seen a boom in social networking, with thousands flooding to sign up. No longer were the days of MYSPACE and BEBO etc considered to be aimed at a niche market. This article comments upon “Online Privacy and Social Networking” using, Facebook within a study they conducted. But, firstly they breakdown social networking. Every social networking site has one basic, core feature in common- a user profile. It’s on every website, most dating apps and social networking sites in particular.

A Breakdown of Online Privacy and Social Networking 

As there are so many of these social networking sites, they can have different functions so, dependent upon that, we reveal a wide range of details about our personal life. Some networking sites allow you to use pseudonyms thus, maintaining some privacy but is this really true? We are creatures of habit and that means we will use the same pictures allowing people to create connections and find personal information out before you even talk. We all have a small circle of friends that we share our inner most personal details with, but this article asks how many strangers (the friends of friends, random people) we have accepted upon our social networking sites also know this personal information too. Social networks allow us to ‘air’ our personal problems, celebrations etc but who sees it? But, we are happy to display ourselves so happily to the world. Privacy is dependent upon the person, possible receivers and the millions of uses of the site. Most sites have a privacy policy, as you should all be aware which some experts believe to be enough to combat privacy issues as well as how we as users, use the sites themselves.

The Study

* CMU stands for Carnegie Mellon University.

*SO’s stands for Significant Others.

They took 4000 users of a site (Facebook) aimed at college students. If I haven’t mentioned it enough already its Facebook. The study shows how relaxed we are within the site, referring to online privacy. The demographic of most social network sites is college students thus, that is why they created a study using 4000 people from a college as their sample. Furthermore, when sign up to social networking sites there is a privacy policy, for which we must agree too which clearly states what they will do with your information, and how the you personally use the site in order to ‘cater’ to you better. The participants are all from “Carnegie Mellon University” (CMU).

Findings

They went online and searched for male and female students separately that attended CMU using the sites advanced search feature. On whole they downloaded 4500 profiles and the students ranged from under graduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty members. Here are some facts and figures for you;

  • 90.8% of profiles contained an image.
  • 87.8% of users had revealed their birth dates
  • 39.9% had revealed their phone number
  • 50.8% had revealed their current residence.
  • Also, the majority of users had revealed sexual orientation, relationship status, political views and their various interests.
  • And 62.9% had revealed who they were in a relationship with and a link to their SO’s profile.

They found that the usage of Facebook was relatively similar between males and females except with relationship status. Males shared their phone numbers more than women, in an attempt to attract someone.

Next they selected 100 out of the 4500 participants profiles at random to analyse the accuracy of information provided analysing profile names, identifiability of images on profile and friends networks discovering;

  • 89% of people used their real names, 8% used fake names and only 3% partially revealed their first names.
  • 61% of images identified the users clearly, 80% of images revealed some useful information to make an identification and 12% of images were clearly not related to the user.
  • 78.2% of people on the users friends list were attending CMU, 54.9% of people were friends at other schools. Also, 76.6% of users have 25 or more CMU friends whereas 68.6% of profiles show 25 or more non- CMU friends.

Findings surrounding privacy suggests only a minimal amount of people made use of the privacy setting around search-ability of the profile. Even more so, only 0.06% had taken advantage of the profile visibility privacy setting. They state that by simply searching on Facebook, it is possible to find a digital dossier of the participants within the study. Clearly, those within the study are simply not bothered about the information they put out there on the internet. Thus, with just the figures above it is clear to see how open many people are to a possible attack online or physically.

Conclusion

Why do we make ourselves such an open book? Are we so irresponsible with our privacy through creating social networking profiles? How can we control what information can be seen via the rest of the world? Are you now looking at your own profiles privacy settings? In today’s society, we are now using networking sites constantly and many employers search for you on google to make sure your ideals and views align with the image of their companies.We are so open in the information we give, it can be dangerous to an extent and open you up to dangers. But, privacy settings exist so you can limit those who see your profiles. We can choose what information is out in the universe of social networking. Maybe to attain anonymity people should use separate images so, to make yourself less identifiable. And who knows as you get older, and wiser maybe you’ll restrict your profiles and make them private.

This article raises a lot of questions surrounding social networks, online privacy and how we as users, use them. It’s useful in providing a beginning to the debate of online privacy as well as, helping you understand the views already out there.

References

GROSS, R. and ACQUISTI, A. (2005) Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Social Networks (The Facebook case). Available at: http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~acquisti/papers/privacy-facebook-gross-acquisti.pdf (Accessed: 22 October 2016).

 

Student Life

Final Year: 1 Month in…

Can you believe it? Final year is just flying by at the moment. We are already four weeks into the year and in just under three weeks my first assignment needs to be handed in. But, I did it! I’ve gone straight from school, to sixth form, to university with no breaks and soon I’ll be out in the real world. But, while I’m back here pretending that’s not happening I’ll fill you in on this weeks classes. I’ve spent most of my time in the library this week so, I’ve been on top of getting work done. In fact, I’m here now catching up on blogging, deciding essay questions and soon I’ll be looking into privacy settings for social media sites.

I’ll start at the beginning of the week with Media Technologies as per usual and talk you through my week. When the notification came up to tell me the PowerPoint was available, I was already intrigued when it read ‘Power, Policies and Governance’. I have a confession to make-whenever we look at this part of a topic I’m always quite interested. I’ve never really understood, I just am! So, when I got to the lecture we first went through ‘housekeeping’ and by that I mean quite a few people had raised concerns so, the lecturer was settling us. Also, there was a change in the assignment grading which is another story entirely. Anyway, one we got past all of that, it was time to start the lecture which encompassed two videos and the introduction of two very influential people in creating a more open internet; Aaron Swartz and Larry Lessig. Both, I found out fight for freedom of speech, a change to piracy laws among other things. Unfortunately, Swartz is no longer with us but, Lessig who is the founder of something you all may have heard of; Creative Commons is still very much a political activist.

In one of the videos, he was presenting at a conference in which he told three stories and then by using those three stories, he simplified the idea of internet freedom and piracy and then brought it all together at the end. I was entranced by the way he did this, it’s such a genius way of teaching people to understand what is being said. Next, we went off to the seminar largely discussing project ideas and raising concerns.

Next, I had Moral Panics and we’ve started to look at case studies. This week it was the ‘video nastie’. This moral panic is based around the idea that particularly graphic games and horror movies inspire vulnerable groups to copy and re-create particular death scenes. For example, the Bulger Murder. We analysed the two apparent episodes of ‘video nasties’, the first appearing in 1984-84 before it disappeared an reoccurred in 1994. But, it’s not the lecture I want to speak about, instead its the seminar. Our seminar is always quite interesting because everyone joins in, they all have an opinion the subject. Overall, the discussion came down to our increasing de-sensitisation of horror movies, the idea that we know it’s fiction and not real even if the films nowadays are more realistic and the rising concern of the younger generation who are being brought up on games and screens. But, we could all agree on one thing there isn’t enough information out there to say there’s a huge link between the people involved in killings that re-create/are inspired by on-screen killings and scenes. However, we can’t disregard a tiny link but, we all thought there were other reasons behind why someone would commit such a gruesome act. Also, the fabrication of a ‘video nastie’ sensationalising the crime more than it needed. Giving it unwarranted attention.

On the same day, I also had a very productive dissertation meeting with my tutor. We decided to narrow down the episodes to four, found a few more articles for myself to look into and she assigned me to come up with sections for my dissertation to write under so, that it simplified the situation. So, my next few weeks will be watching New Tricks and Vera; two programmes I adore. It’s always good if you are going to enjoy your dissertation. Furthermore, she’s also my tutor for the year so she needs to know how I am in general and she advised me to go to careers which, I have already done. She thought I was an on-the-ball student! It’s been decided that I will research this semester thus, leaving me to draft and re-draft next semester. Honestly, I’m feeling very confident about this now. And as I asked, she’s setting me deadlines to get the assigned stuff done.

Finally, we had globalisation and the media. This week we looked at Latin America. It was interesting to see their media development because I always thought they were developing quite well however, in the lecture I found that was not the case at all. For the screening, we watch Storyville: Inside the Coup which is about Chavez in Venezuela and a Coup that was staged against him. It demonstrated how the use of the media was used to convince people he was bad for their country but, it was also used positively through him. He wanted his MP’s and himself, to use all the media. So, if you visit another place go on the local radio stations and get his message and ideas across. If I’m honest, I found myself entranced in this documentary and would watch it again!

Overall, it’s been such an interesting week. Next week is a sort of professional development week in which, we have to sign up to classes. I’ve signed up to three classes including a grad talk so, lets see how that goes and who knows it may give me and inkling of what I would like to do.

Student Life

Final Year: Week Three

So, this week was an interesting week of classes. Although, I’d heard of some of the theorists and ideas before, I enjoyed learning more about them in detail and how they applied to this semesters modules. Also, some assignments became clearer making myself feel more confident about completing them. Anyway, that is the overview of my week so, its time to get into detail about all three as well as discuss my dissertation progress.

Media Technologies entailed reading about McLuhan, a rock star theorist known for providing revolutionary ideas about the media. McLuhan believes that the medium is the message however, that does not mean he completely disregards the content of the media either. He’s famously known in corporations throughout America as the guy who told companies they didn’t understand media at all and explained it to them before being hired. His main idea is that everything should be considered as ‘the media’ for example, the desk I’m writing this blog post as is a media, an extension of self. He’s interesting to read because he talks in metaphors so, while difficult to dissect what is being said, if you understand him it’s revolutionary. However, he is largely criticised for speaking in metaphors as they deem him confusing and to general when speaking on the media. It was definitely an interesting and enjoyable week.

Moral Panics saw us looking at the ‘Attributional Model of Moral Panics’ created by Goode & Ben-Yehuda. Their module is similar to the work of Cohen and ‘The Processual Model’ however, while Cohen’s model is flexible and non-linear, their model is meant to be followed strictly and in that order in order for something to be deemed a Moral Panic. Now, we have looked at both I have to say I much prefer the work of Cohen, as his approach is not linear, it doesn’t have an order to it. Overall, it was a recap on some of the stuff I’d heard in sociology but it was interesting to get more in-depth instead of scratching the surface, as we did in A-Level. Next week is the turn of the video nastie which I’m looking forward too. It’s good that we are getting into the case studies and can apply the models more freely. Overall, I’m excited to get into more detail now and enjoying my elective (chosen) module.

Finally, Globalisation and The Media moved from Globalisation theories to analysing the media in the Global South, specifically Africa. Firstly, we went over key terms which will be useful for a semester two module as well as this, surrounding colonialism and imperialism. The African media development has been uneven and under-developed in the sense that they do not use the newest technology. Also, there are key factors that impact upon the media, the first mentioned above but the others pertain to government, the countries development overall and their economy. On top of this, we got a screening it looked at the history of Africa suggesting they had swapped a racial apartheid for an economical one which, the documentary proved in my eyes. The reading was interesting it looked at the development of the tabloid, and an additional reading looked at how media was used within the Rwandan Genocide- a radio being the media. Out of the two, I really enjoyed the second reading however we didn’t discuss it due to only myself and one other person being the only ones to read it. It was an interesting week and we’ll be looking at Latin America.

Overall, I’ve been enjoying getting into classes more now that the beginning theories that we need to know have passed. Assignments are coming up so, it’ll be hard to juggle everything on top of my dissertation however, news on the dissertation front. I have my first meeting on Tuesday and am looking forward to discussing it more.

Student Life

Induction Week-Third Year Begins

I began third year this week. All week I’ve been attending university fairs and signing up to societies, activities etc while anxiously waiting for my induction lecture. It’s daunting to find yourself in the final year at university. It’s finally time to decide what we want to do. A theme within our induction lecture, alongside the offer of a trip to Berlin and finding out about the changes in our course.

I’ve seen the university change a lot over the last few years; new subjects introduced, changes in assessments etc and it’s a good thing. Three years ago, it was just beginning and we were the test year in essence. Its improved so much but as the lecturer talked about all the new things it left me wondering why our year seemed to be the test year for most things throughout all of education. Just a thought, it may be nice to not have the changes always begin with us.

I know there have been other changes in other years and the course keeps getting better but as I’m a third year it makes you wonder what you’ll miss out on. All I know, I’m ready to get back and started now we’ve had a long summer and it’s just time to start again.

Lets see how the first week of actual subject lectures go… it’s going to be interesting is all I know.