Over the duration of the semester I have participated in a class titled Media, Audience and Place where I was instructed to chronicle my learnings via a weekly blog. To give you an idea of what the task has entailed, here is a quick overview of what I’ve taken away from the subject.
In week one I spoke of my experience within the media space, looking directly at how my media use has been influenced by the technology available, trends and current events that have occurred chronologically over the years. I learnt that the idea of space can be understood through the telling of narratives and in week two I had the pleasure of putting this concept into practice when I had a memory conversation with my mother on her recollection of television as a child. This experiment allowed me to explore the ways in which media devices and practices intersect with our experience of being in space and place at a specific point in time.
In week three, we compared and contrasted traditional quantitative audience research with collaborative ethnography and I discovered that it is easy to see why media use in everyday life is of such interest to ethnographers and those invested in media audience measurement. I myself undertook ethnographic research when completing week two’s memory conversation and it was following this task that I understood why the reasons behind how people watch TV may be of interest to researchers. As media practices are social in nature, they depend on spatial influences such as who participates, what form the media may take and when and where it is consumed.
Over the last couple of weeks the class has also touched on the experience of cinema attendance, the ethics around street photography, attention in the presence of media devices and media regulation. This subject has also allowed me to think reflexively and critically, as we’ve been encouraged to question why we are involved in media audience research, what our stake is in our research and who we are as researchers — this has allowed us to further understand and change the world we live in.
George Soros (2009) explains that reflexivity, “applies exclusively to situations that have thinking participants,” adding that, “the participants’ thinking serves two functions. One is to understand the world in which we live…the other is to change the situation to our advantage.”
In this sense and in regards to media audience research, it is possible to understand how we as researchers can use our understanding of the world (through stories of everyday places, things, networks, devices and people) to change a situation (for example: media audience measurement) to our advantage. My blog has allowed me to do just that, the narrative I have told over the past 10 weeks details my understanding of the world in relation to media and chronicles my movement through space at a particular place and time.
The experience has also encouraged me to think about how space and place help us understand media practice and the ways media use, devices and practices intersect with our experience of being in a space or place at a specific time. This idea is confirmed when Soros states that, “the participants’ thinking finds expression not only in statements but also, of course, in various forms of action and behaviour. The participants’ views influence the course of events, and the course of events influences the participants’ views.”
Media use results in new habits and changing relationships and these habits — which can be mapped throughout history — help inform media audience research, positive progress and technological developments. A clear example that we must continuously adapt and learn as technology progresses is illustrated via an anecdote referenced in week two’s lecture where Nathan Jurgenson of Twitter isn’t a Backchannel explains that when looking at the issue of Twitter interrupting class time, “the question should never have been ‘is Twitter good or bad?’ but how to best arrange your digital and analogue inputs and outputs in real-time.”
He can be understood to consider ethnographic research, looking directly at how, when and why students use Twitter, and concludes that, “always tuning out the room or Twitter are both failed [lecture] strategies. If we can acknowledge that the [lecture] is both information and people who are always simultaneously on and offline, we’ll be much better prepared to prosume this information environment.”
In deciding on what topic to construct my research project on, I considered all that I have learnt and have decided that I will be undertaking a project that seeks to explore habits around social media and device use and examine how this information can be used to measure media audience engagement. I plan to document these habits as I feel reflexive, relational, narrative, ethnographic and small case study methods are vital to audience research. This project will allow me to reflect on my own story (auto-ethnography) and learn from the stories of others.
Thus far, I have been working on my weekly writing habit, building my network reach, adding value to what I’ve learnt in the form of sharing and linking my posts and striving to create a platform to promote my project to readers. As I will be employing what Soros (2009) labels as a number of “thinking participants” in order to build a collection of data, I plan to communicate my findings to a wider audience by sharing blog post updates and links on social media, in conjunction with making use of hashtags.
I have also added my UOW email address as a way for readers to contact me on my blog and twitter as I feel it will be important to reconnect with those involved in providing first-hand research in order to give them the opportunity to view the final project. In the meantime, I plan to continue to work on producing high quality content for my readers to digest and will strive to present information drawn from academic sources in an engaging way.
George Soros, 2009, ‘General Theory of Reflexivity’, Financial Times