Thursday, December 9, 2010

Integrating Film into English Education

As many of the books for our class claim, and I totally agree, is that film study is typically used in English courses as a "day off" or another tool to use once in a while. This is an extremely aggravating sentiment, especially when my goal in the secondary education world is to ultimately teach film study/production courses or at least incorporate film study into the English curriculum. As I was reading John Golden's book entitled Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom, I stumbled upon a genus rational for the integration of film in English and literature education. The author explains that when he taught a senior level English course, he had a 5 week unit of film study in the curriculum. After the 5 weeks were over and he returned to teaching literature, he says:
"...What I really noticed was that when we turned to a novel in the next unit, my students seemed to be much more willing to critique and analyze that written work than they had before the film unit. On the next year's guinea pigs, I tested this theory further by moving that unit up earlier into our school year. I discovered that it was not just students' analytical skills that improved: it was also their reading skills. Now, they didn't know that, and I certainly didn't tell them, but it was true: the watching and analyzing of movies seemed to greatly affect their ability to read and critique literature."
Film analysis forces students' brains to look at literature differently: more analytically, more rhetorically.
Therefore, when I see that teachers define literacy and solely regarding written literature, it is extremely upsetting for me. Literacy, especially for this new generation, not only involves written literature, but involves film, media and any visual literature. Film and other visual mediums are a language needed to be understood and analyzed, just like written literature.
Furthermore, the artistic choices that an author makes while writing literature regarding words to emphasize certain aspects of the narrative, is the same way that filmmakers make artistic choices using visuals to emphasize aspects of the narrative.
Because of this relationship, I feel that a film adaptation unit would be extremely imperative and useful within literature education.
I think that Romeo and Juliet is an excellent text that can be used to educate students regarding literature and film adaptation.
Here would be an example lesson plan for this unit:
1. Introduce Romeo and Juliet- the history, significance, background, etc.
2. Introduce artistic choices that authors make while writing:
Meter (Iambic pentameter specifically used for Romeo and Juliet).
Figures of Speech:
Rhymes and rhyme schemes
Tropes: Irony, Synechdoche, Paradox, Oxymoron
3. Diction/register: choice of words
3. Read through the first act of Romeo and Juliet together as a class, looking for these artistic choices within the writing.
4. Introduce artistic choices that filmmakers make during production:
1. Shot choice:
Extreme Long shot, medium shot, close-up, extreme close-up
2. Camera movement: (Cinematography)
Stationary, pan, tilt, dolly, truck, hand-held, tracking
3. Focus: (Photography)
Wide angle, long angle, deep focus
4. Editing: (Post Production)
How long to hold a shot, transitions, juxtapositions, what the cut explains
5. Acting:
How the actors/actresses deliver the lines
6. Music:
How the music emphasizes emotion: scary, happy, sad, romantic, etc.

5. Watch the equivalence of the first act of Baz Luhrman's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet- stopping once in a while to discuss the visual techniques how they emphasize aspects of the narrative.

Homework assignment:
The students, in groups, will create their own adaptations of a scene from Romeo and Juliet (The teacher will decide which scene- every group will produce the same scene).
Assign a theme to every group in which their adaptation has to abide by:
Western, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Infants, Elderly, Soap Opera, Reality TV.
The students have a choice to make their adaptation as a digital comic, a digital film using Imovie, or using voicethread- images with voice-over.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music Analysis: Indie/Alternative Rock

My favorite genre of music is Indie and Alternative Rock. Anything from acoustic/folk rock (Guster) to post-rock (Sigur Ros) to piano rock (The Fray and Ben Folds) to atmospheric rock (Angels and Airwaves) to "mainstream" indie rock (Death Cab For Cutie) are my favorite kinds of music. My all-time favorite band is Guster- an acoustic/folk/pop/rock group which featured hand drums in their older music.
Lately, my favorite band is Freelance Whales- a folk/indie/atmospheric/alternative/rock band which features dream-like ambience and intense vocal harmonies. I also just saw them in concert tonight (Wednesday, December 1st) at the 7th Street Entry downtown. These multi-instrumentalists are extremely talented at not only crafting gorgeous and catchy melodies and harmonies, but performs them live with such precision, yet such a different experience from the recorded album. They are such incredible musicians and performers that at times, the show felt more like a spiritual experience rather than a rock concert. Their intense vocal harmonies and ambient accompaniment during the song "Generator ^ Second Floor", which features banjo, electric guitar, keyboard, glockenspiel, bass guitar and drumset, literally sent shivers down my spine.

Here's a clip of the band performing the song live:

The band uses traditional instruments in non-traditional ways. For example, on a few songs including the aforementioned song, the electric guitarist uses a stringed bow (like one would use on a violin) on the strings to create an extremely esoteric sound. Also, the band uses the banjo as if it were a rhythm guitar and serves as a main focus of accompaniment on many songs. Another way Freelance Whales creates a wholly unique live experience, is that in between songs, the band continues playing low level sounds on their instruments until the next sing begins. This creates a sense of fluency in the show, as if the show keeps going after a song ends and the sounds lead the audience into the next song.
Returning to the specific song, the lyrics are another component of the masterful artwork that is Freelance Whales. Here are the lyrics to "Generator ^ Second Floor":

And I could never tell as a kid
What that window door went to
Only told to stay away
I almost had an accident, age 6
When I found the key in the attic
And now the smell of these wood frames
Is the only sense I've left
So as you pull me from the bed
Tell me I look stunning and cadaverous

And since you are my friend
I would ask that you lower me down slow
And tell the man in the black cloak
He doesn't need to trouble his good soul
With those Latin conjugations
And if it's all the same to them
You should tell your gathering friends
Please not to purse their faces grim
On such a lovely Sunday

Don't fix my smile, life is long enough
We will put this flesh into the ground again (x 6)

While somewhat morbid discussing an experience with a funeral, the band takes this traditionally foreboding event and turns it into a somewhat more comforting perspective. Anyone who has experienced a funeral first-hand will undoubtedly relate to the lyrics and find a new point of view.

Music Video Analysis:
The video I chose to analyze is "This is how it Feels to Have a Broken Heart" by Guster, my absolute favorite band.

This music video is absolutely hilarious!!!! The video employs the use of animated caricatures of the members of Guster "performing" the song in different environments- most of which are references to films or other music videos: Yellow Submarine, Apocalypse Now, Titanic, any space film, any western film, etc.
Guster is famously known for having a very strong fan base of die-hard fans. Therefore, the fact that the music video features caricatures points to the fact that fans of Guster will most likely find the caricatures humerus because we know their real faces so well.
If viewers of the music video is not familiar with Guster, the caricatures serve as a motivation to do more research on the band, as they will want to understand the humor behind the animations.

Teaching Plan about Music as an Art and Media Source:
1. Play for the students a recording of the Sigur Ros song "Untitled 4".
Here's a youtube clip of the song:

Please Note: for the purposes of this lesson plan, DO NOT SHOW THEM THE MUSIC VIDEO, ONLY PLAY AN AUDIO RECORDING.

Before you play the song, explain a few things:
The band Sigur Ros is an Icelandic band, therefore they sing in Icelandic.
The band uses instruments in non-traditional ways to create a very atmospheric sound.
As the students listen to the song, they are going to try to think about what the song could be about. Because they are not able to understand the lyrics, tell them to try thinking about how the song makes them feel (sad/happy/etc) and how the song portrays the theme with the instrumentation.

2. After the song is over, call on students to discuss what they think the song is about.
3. Explain that the song is actually in gibberish:
"Sigur Ros also makes songs that are entirely in words and sounds that they make up on the spot while recording that correlate with their emotions at the time of the creation. Sigur Ros has called this "language" Hopelandic. The album that this song is on is ENTIRELY in Hopelandic.
4. Have a discussion with the class about the business of music:
"Why do you think you probably have never heard of this band or this song?"
"Why do you think that radio stations such as KDWB do not play music from this band?"
5. Explain that music gets popular through careful marketing on radio stations and touring performances. KDWB will only play music that they think their audience will enjoy. KDWB caters to under 30 urbanites who's music interests are lady gaga and the disney channel performers.
HOWEVER, Sigur Ros is played on The Current- a radio station whose clientele is that of twenty-something hipsters who are obsessed with indie rock.
6. Ask the students: "How do radio stations made money if we get the station for free in the car?"
Explain that radio stations sell airtime to advertisers to promote their product or services during "commercial time". Therefore, advertisers will only buy airtime on stations whose audience they believe will hopefully be the clientele of their business. For example: A medicare company advertising their motor-chairs will not buy airtime on the Disney channel radio station as their clienteles do not match up.

Homework Assignment:
Create your own radio station for students in their respective grade. List who the target audience would be, the type of music that they would play on the station, and the advertisers that would be advertising on their station.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Documentary Analysis- Super Size Me!

My favorite documentary is without a doubt the film "Super Size Me", which is directed, narrated, starred, and written by Morgan Spurlock. It was this film that served as the impetus for his tv show "30 Days", in which Morgan Spurlock goes under some sort of lifestyle change for 30 days to create some sort of comment on that lifestyle based on his experience with it, as well as to give viewers an experience and understanding of that lifestyle. For example, in one episode, Morgan and his wife decide to live as lower class, blue collar workers for 30 days, living in a small apartment and only working a certain amount of hours of week to receive minimum wage.
In "Super Size Me", Morgan Spurlock is upset by a recent judicial court decision that states that there is not enough proof that eating fast food can negatively impact one's health. Therefore, Morgan decides to uncover the dangers of fast food consumption, by deciding to only eat at McDonald's for 30 days. He gives himself some rules for the experiment. He is required to eat every meal and snack from McDonald's and if he is offered a "Super Size" option, he is required to take it. Despite discouraging opinions from doctors and his wife regarding the experiment, he ultimately decides to go through with it. The documentary thus displays his experience through a video diary of almost every day of this 30 day experiment.
Here's a clip of the beginning of the film:

This documentary is an easy to understand persuasive film with a strong message. The message is obvious: Eating fast food everyday will cause major health issues. In a narrative film, the filmmakers manifest their message within the rhetoric of film technique and metaphors in the plot. However, documentary filmmakers, while they do still use the rhetoric of film technique to convey their message, the content of their films are blatantly obvious depictions of their message. In the case of "Super Size Me", Morgan is manifesting his message that "eating fast food everyday will cause major health issues" by engaging himself in an experiment where he eats fast food everyday.
The intended audience of this film are the typical consumers of fast food: middle and lower class urbanites. Morgan thus uses rhetoric that these classes can most identify with in order to be most successful in his persuasion. The film employs the use of visual depictions of printed items such as maps, quotes, documents, pictures, advertisements and charts as his primary source material. In addition, he features clips of his experience in lower/middle class environments such as schools, shopping malls, stores and urban areas.
This film is extremely successful in persuading viewers of its message. Not only are Morgan's sources persuasive, but the fact that he is actively engaged in an experiment to support his message is extremely persuasive. In this way, Morgan is not only showing viewers written proof for his argument, but displays his own experienced proof which is the most valuable and persuasive piece of information.

Lesson Plan:
Show the students "Super Size Me" during a whole class period. Not only is it an excellent example of documentary filmmaking, but its content is very important for students to understand. The entire film may not be able to be screened in one class period, but at least the students will get out enough of the film during an hour.
During the next class period, assign each student a partner to discuss these questions within the partner groups:
1. Based on this film, how would you define a documentary? How is the filmmaking style different from narrative films?
2. What is the message of the film?
3. Is this film effective in displaying its message?
4. What are some techniques that the film uses to show its message?
5. Is it possible that the documentary has a bias within it? How might this effect the filmmaking?
6. Did the film persuade you to think differently about eating at McDonald's?

Once the students seem to have discussed all of the questions, bring the class back together as a group to discuss the answers. Go around the each partner group and have them talk to the class about what they talked about for that question.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Local TV News Analysis

I flipped through the channels at 9:00 PM on the TV at my girlfriend's apartment at Northstar, and I found a local news show produced by WGN. I assumed that this was a local Minneapolis news show, so I began logging it. After about 5 minutes, I realized that it was Chicago local news. At first I thought I would have to start all over with a new station, but I figured that most local news sources must have similar trends, and Chicago is relatively close to Minnesota, so I continued to log the show. If anything, I figured it might be an interesting counter-point to local Minneapolis news. Here's what I saw on the hour long show:

9:00- Top Story: Murder/rape crime
9:03- Soldier honored locally
9:03- Murder case in which bond was denied
9:04- Local fire
9:04- City elections- candidacy discussion
9:04- Public school deficit $700 Million
9:05- CTA naming rights possible in the future (such as "Taco Bell Station")
Interviews- around downtown Chicago:
2 possibly homosexual males
2 college students
Asian male
Latino woman
9:08- Poll: text in opinion regarding the naming rights.
9:08- COMING UP: Bed bugs, Navy Pier makeover.
9:12- Office bed bugs:
Clip from a spanish news station
Interview with an exterminator (gross teeth)
Disgusting image of bed bugs bites on an arm
Interview with AFSCME Spokesperson
Quote on screen from source
9:16- COMING UP: Protest turns violent, Missile?
9:18- Protest in London- against boosting college tuition-
Video of people with fire, etc.
9:19- Bomb found on plane
9:19- Stranded cruise ship- bad conditions
Voice on phone
9:20- Vapor trail- not a rocket- must have been from plane
9:21- Tomorrow's Tribune: Girls sports lawsuit
9:21- New vision for Navy Pier- hotel, concert venue, etc
9:22- Giant blue eye art piece closed
9:22- COMING UP: Scared straight images on cigarettes, Harry Potter
COMMERCIAL BREAK- local lottery
9:25- National Lincoln Memorial (Veterans Day tomorrow)-
Video of cemetery with TAPS playing in background
Interview with director
9:30- Weather banter
9:31- Weather
9:36- COMING UP: Texting Teens!
9:39- Medical Watch- scare tactic of gross pictures on cigarette cases.
9:40- Texting leads to more sex and drugs!
9:40- Kids sense stress- parents should talk to kids about it.
9:41- COMING UP: Harry Potter, sports.
9:44- Weather
9:46- Harry Potter- interview with Daniel Radcliff- with WGN National interviewer.
9:48- COMING UP: Football, basketball, sports!
9:51- Poll results from text-in poll
9:51- Sports
9:55- Anchors say goodnight and thanks for watching.
9:55- Photos of the day- Photo Montage
10:00- END

Time Devoted To:
News: 22 Minutes:
(Crime news: 6 Minutes
Political news: 6 Minutes
Veterans Day news: 6 Minutes
Scares news (bombs/missiles): 4 Minutes)
Weather: 8 minutes
Sports: 4 minutes
Consumer/Health/Entertainment: 9 minutes
Ads: 18 minutes

My experience:
Overall, I kept getting sensing that it was constantly over-sensationalistic and I found myself saying, "Wow, this is ridiculous".
Obviously, before I watched the news show, I figured that the majority of the time spend would be with advertisements and sensationalistic news stories. I figured that the top story would be a horrendous crime- it was a murder/rape crime of a 3 year old girl.
I did not think there would actually be a legitimate amount of time spent on "scare stories"- news in which there was a event that could have been a real scare, but ended up not being so. One of these was absolutely ridiculous- It was a story about a person who filmed a vapor stream that he saw in the sky that he thought was a missile. The news anchors said that in reality, this was most likely just a vapor stream from an airplane (OBVIOUSLY!!!).
Another absolutely ridiculous story was about teen texting. The anchors said that there was a recent study, which claimed that the more teens text, the more likely they are to have sex and do drugs (OH MY GOD- REALLY?! THAT IS ABSOLUTELY PREPOSTEROUS! YOU CAN'T GET ANYMORE SENSATIONALISTIC THAN THAT!). It was very upsetting for me to see that the news would actually say that story.
Finally, I can't believe (well, I guess I can believe unfortunately), that Harry Potter qualifies as legitimate news, and a story that was talked about for a large portion in the show to get the viewers excited about it. It was a 2 minute interview with Daniel Radcliff. Wow, okay, great news. Thanks WGN.
I apologize for the informal descriptions of my feelings regarding this news show, however, I just feel so strongly about its absolute ridiculousness.
The visual techniques of the news show reiterates the extreme sensationalist quality of the news stories. They tried to show the most extreme depictions. In the bed bugs story they showed an exaggerated, disgusting image of the arm FULL of bed bug bites. In the protest story, they showed the most extreme looking individuals with the most extreme items in their hands- flames, weapons, etc. They refuse to show protesters simply holding up signs, not being directly violent. At the same time, when interviewing people to be shown during stories, they tried to show a wide variety of individuals from minorities: In the CTA naming rights story, they interviewed Asians, Latinos, and people that fit the stereotypes of homosexuals. They chose these people to give off the impression that they are getting a lot of different people to speak about their story. While doing so, they are just reinforcing stereotypes of these minority groups.
Over all, the news show was quite upsetting to me and it was extremely sensationalistic and contained stories that are only present to incite a certain emotion.

Teaching Activity:
1. Begin by showing a few clips from the film "V For Vendetta".
Here's an example clip from the film!
2. Discuss how news media is made:
Where they get their stories- the government, companies with press kits, ETC.
The impact from advertisers on news stories.
3. Brainstorm a list of the types of news stories seen on the news (Crime news, politics, health, entertainment, sports, weather, etc).
4. Have the students guess how long each of these stories are usually allotted during a show.
5. Show the students a half-hour news show (skipped through advertisements).
6. Discuss with the students what they see:
Crime everywhere! (Scary World Fear), exaggerations, dramatic, etc.
7. Introduce the students to the term Sensationalism.
Homework Assignment!
8. Split up the class into 4 groups.
Two of the groups will create a 10 minute news show that is a representation of an extremely sensationalistic news source.
The students are required to make a script of the news stories, what the anchors say, etc. However, if they wish to actually film the show, it will be welcomed with extra credit.
The other two groups will create a 10 minute news show that is a representation of an equal, fair, objective as possible- news show.

The groups will present their shows at the next class. Have the class discuss what they see and the relationship between the two types- what is good/bad about each one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Genre Analysis: Utopian/Distopian-Science Fiction

I will be analyzing one of my favorite genres: Science Fiction, but more specifically- Utopia/Distopia. These media texts look at the near future and discuss its society in terms of its perfection or lack thereof.
I love this genre mostly for its escapist qualities. It always fascinates me to ponder the future and the impact of developing aspects of current society on those future depictions of society. In other words, most of these narratives discuss the role of technology as both benefiting and harming society (creating either a utopia or distopia).
Some of these films include: I Robot, Surrogates, Minority Report, Blade Runner, (The Matrix), (12 Monkeys), etc.

Here's the Trailer for I, Robot:

Prototypical features:

The technology (Usually robots, machines, technologically altered humans, etc.)
Cop/Detective/Some type of Investigative Agent (Or uniquely intelligent human)
Police Chief (or other Judicial type boss) to give assignment to main character
Female love interest (usually an ex-wife, or troubled relationship with female)
Creator/Owner of the technology (usually antagonist in some way)
Innocent bystanders (the world at large)

The birthplace of the technology (The Robotics Corporation for example)
Extremely urbanized Down Town areas, saturated with advertisements
A rural or non-urbanized area free of mainstream technologies.
Futuristic, Post-Modern architecture and lighting.

Here's an example of futuristic transportation (and a special effects fight scene) from I, Robot:

Here's an example from the film Minority Report of a mall saturated with advertisements:

Robots/Robotics (Or derivative- Replicant for example)
"The Three Laws of Robotics"

Storyline Features:
Typical Problem: Usually a murder involved with the technology; the technology becomes unruly; protagonist uncovers negative secret of the technological system; protagonist attempts to stop the technology from further harming humanity or invading humanity, and topples the whole societal system involved with the technology.
Who solves the problem: some sort of investigative agent or uniquely intelligent individual.
With what means: using their investigative skills, physical and intellectual intelligence and usually lots of guns.
Towards what end: To prove the ineffectiveness of the current societal system using advanced technology.
Reflected assumptions: "We live in a technology saturated world".
Who solves the problem: Always be questioning society and technology.
What means/tools: Always challenge authority and if you are not satisfied with an answer- investigate deeper.
Themes: "If we continue to be too reliant on technology, we will turn into a humanless-society."
"Advanced technology in general is harmful to society."

Here's the link to my powerpoint on googledocs!

Critical Analysis:
This genre of narrative communicates an ironic and confusing discussion of technology. The main theme of this genre is that our continued reliance on technology will force us into a human-less world is negated during the course of most of these films or other media texts. In order to put an end to the harmful technology, the protagonist ironically needs to use technology. For example, in most of these films, the main characters use guns or other military technologies, transportation technologies, computer technologies, etc. to destroy the advanced technology that is threatening society. Therefore, the theme of these narratives are thus confusing. If we are supposed to not be saturated with technology, then why do we have to use it, just in case? In this way, these narratives support a reliance on technology, as well as negate that.

Lesson plan: Discussion of Science Fiction vs. Fantasy:
Begin by having the class brainstorm classic films from the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. They will most likely list Star Wars as a Science Fiction and Lord of the Rings as a Fantasy.
Then, show the class short clips from Star Wars and Lord of The Rings.
Then ask them, "What genre is Star Wars?"
The students will most likely respond: "Science Fiction, of course!"
Then respond: "Nope, contrary to popular belief, based on the traditional characteristics of genres, Star Wars is actually a fantasy, set in a futuristic world. 'Wait, that doesn't make sense! I thought science fiction was anything set in the future!'"
Then explain the differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Science Fiction: Emphasis on imagined science and technology- issues with, future of , inventive technologies and science, etc. The key aspect of science fiction is that the narratives COULD happen based on our current technology and laws of nature. Therefore, much of science fiction does take place in futuristic settings, but definitely does not need to.
Fantasy: Imagined worlds using magic and other supernatural powers and phenomena. Often involves the hero journey coming into their own person through depredations and initiations. Often involves binary communities of good versus evil.
The main difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy is the issue of realism. Science Fiction is POSSIBLE, while fantasy is totally imagined and IMPOSSIBLE to actually occur in our universe.
THEREFORE: Star Wars is actually fantasy: It is an imagined universe with a supernatural phenomena of "The Force" and the Jedi's versus the Dark Side (good versus evil binary). Finally, Luke Skywalker is the typical hero/journey character.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Media Ethnography- Use of Facebook

For my Media Ethnography, I chose to do a study regarding the use of facebook by its users. For my research, I first created a survey on, then I analyzed a specific facebook profile in relation to my survey results.

Here's the link to my survey on survey monkey!

Research Methods:
I wanted to find information regarding why and when people joined facebook, and why and what they do on facebook while they are on the site. So, I made this survey. Unfortunately, I soon realized while creating my survey that survey monkey only allows 10 questions to be made. I simplified all of my research points into 10 questions, which was no easy task. I figured that even though it was only 10 questions, it would still help me, and it did. I made a facebook event to invite all of my facebook friends to take the survey.
(Yes, I understand the irony of having a facebook event inviting facebook friends to take a survey about their use of facebook. It was purely for a practical reason. It was the easiest way to find a lot of people really fast to take my survey.)
In the facebook event description, as well as in the description on the survey website, I explained that the survey is for this class, must be 18 in order participate (I did not want to spend more time with receiving parental permission), and no private information would be shared during this analysis write-up. In addition, in order to create some sort of motivation for people to participate in the study, I advertised that any participant would be entered into a drawing to win a prize (I randomly chose a participant who will receive a recording of Freelance Whales (an amazing band) performing on a radio show with interviews that I will send via e-mail).
There were 128 participants who took my survey. (I soon realized that I am only able to see the first 100 responses for free, which is still quite helpful for my study).
The sample was 44.4% Male and 55.6% female.
Ages ranged from 18-34 (My focus for this study is the twenty-something age range that is frequently discussed as the focal group to use facebook, partially because these were the first to use facebook when it was only offered for college students in 2004).

The majority of my sample joined facebook in 2006 (40.5%):

When asked why they joined facebook (general idea from written statement):
Because everyone else was: 49% (41 participants)
To keep in touch with friends/ social networking: 38% (32 participants)
To keep in touch with family: 3% (3 participants)
Other reasons (picture sharing, relationship statuses, bored, to express one's self, transition of myspace, to be like a sibling, etc.): 10% (6 participants)
(There were 83 who answered this question, 17 skipped this question).

I asked how they felt when they joined facebook:
82 participants answered this question, and 18 skipped this question.
The majority (84.1%) of my sample associated the adjective "social" as a feeling when they joined facebook.

I asked how they hoped they would feel with their use of facebook:
Again, the majority (84.1%) of my sample associated the adjective "social" as a feeling that they hoped they would feel with their use of facebook. Interestingly, the adjectives "Accepted", "Popular" and "Well-liked" increased from the previous question.

I asked how often they go onto facebook:
The overwhelming majority (71.1%) of my sample said that they go onto facebook multiple times per day. Only one person used facebook as little as a few times per month.

Finally, I asked how often they participate in certain activities while on facebook:

The majority (54.9%) of my sample said that they view status updates every time they are on facebook. Also, 72.9% view other friends' facebook profiles every time, or almost every time they use facebook.

In addition, I took notes on the facebook use of a specific person on facebook. She will be known as "Macy" for the purposes of this study. I began studying her profile on this past saturday morning.
Macy has done the following things on her facebook since Saturday:
Changed her facebook status: 17 times.
Some of her statuses include: " 'A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend' --author unknown", "snuggling with [name removed for privacy] puppy!", "has only been as work less than 3 hours and already wants to go home!!", "Hanging out with the family at Xylon Park", "Is having brunch at Granite City with [name removed for privacy]".
Changed her facebook profile picture: 2 times.
Added pictures: 7 times.
Commented on others' statuses/ others' walls: 7 times.
Became friends with: 3 people.
Liked pages: 32.

Based on my research, I found that twenty-somethings use facebook as a means to "fit in" and feel accepted with their "friends". The reason twenty-somethings initially joined facebook was to feel accepted with their friends in the real world, by joining this online society of not only these friends who they wanted to initially feel accepted with, but also new friends that they "meet" online. Once they have entered the facebook realm, they now want to feel accepted now only with the initial friends in the real world who "told them to join facebook", but now feel a sense of urgency to fit in with new friends that they now have in this online social network.
The fact that the majority of my sample joined facebook in 2006, is extremely noteworthy. On September 26th, 2006, facebook became open to the public; anyone over 13 with a valid e-mail address was now allowed to join. Previously, facebook was only for college students (then opened to high school students). At this point in 2006, facebook had become so popular that it was undoubtedly changed to be open to anyone because of pressures to make it so by people who were not allowed to be on facebook. Therefore, the majority of my sample of twenty-somethings joined facebook in 2006 in order to "fit in" with the new cultural norm that has become facebook.
The most powerful piece of evidence that I found in my research was the answer in the survey to the question: "Why did you join facebook?" The majority answered that they had joined facebook because everyone else did. They wanted to fit in with what everyone else was doing. It became important to join facebook when it was gaining so much popularity.
In addition, when asked what adjectives they associated their feeling with when they joined facebook, the majority answered that they felt "social". When they did join facebook, my sample felt like they were apart of this new online society, and therefore felt social when they became apart of it.
Similarly, when asked what they hoped they would feel with their use of facebook, the majority answer was again "social". However, the adjectives of "accepted". "popular", and "well-liked" increased from the previous question. When they joined facebook, my sample wanted to feel accepted and fit in with this new online society and culture.
The majority of my sample uses facebook multiple times everyday. This shocking, yet not surprising statistic makes perfect sense. Facebook users want to feel apart of this society that gets changed and added to every minute of everyday, and users want to know whats going on. Therefore, they feel the need to enter into this society as often as they can, and they do: multiple times everyday.
Finally, the majority of participants in my study said that they view others status updates every time they use facebook. The majority also views others' profile pages either every time or almost every time they go on facebook. When these twenty-somethings use facebook, they dont use for the games or applications, they use it for the social purposes. They want to stay updated on whats going on in this online culture, and then they view status updates and profiles, they feel accepted in the society, as they know what is going on.

The use of Macy's facebook directly supports my findings in the research. Macy feels a constant need to fit in to her facebook network society, therefore she is on facebook multiple times every day, sometimes multiple times every hour. She changed her status 17 times in the days of saturday-wednesday. She wants others to keep up with her status, as she does with others- a sort of circular acceptance. It doesn't matter what the content of the status is- from the mundane (take naps and eating brunch) to the philosophical (the quote about grandmothers)- as long as she updates, she feels that she is accepted in this society. Finally, Macy liked 32 pages during these few days. By associating herself with culture icons, groups, items, or ideologies, Macy is hoping that other users will see these associations and think, "hey, that's cool, I like those things too". And Macy can go onto others' profiles and do the same with their page associations- again this idea of the circular acceptance.
Macy is a perfect example of my research that I found using the survey. Twenty-somethings use facebook as a means of acceptance with not only their friends in real cultural society, but to be accepted into the online society that is more or less a virtual extension of real culture.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Media Ethnography Discussion

After finally seeing a screening of The Social Network a few days ago, my interest was sparked in facebook's impact on culture. A large component of the film that I felt was particularly fascinating was the role that facebook has played in our new online social culture that has made our actual social culture less legitimately "social". Throughout the film, Mark Zuckerberg is constantly being depicted as socially awkward, not paying attention to conversation when people are speaking to him, being "plugged in" to his computer and not being able to recognize the world. At one point in the film, Justin Timberlake's character says, "We lived in farms, then we lived in cities, and now we're gonna live on the internet!" This is the current trend that facebook is implementing onto us: a world in which we are more concerned with our social network online, than our social network in real life.
When looking at my own experiences with facebook, while it may not be as extreme as I just made it out to be, even I spend a lot of time and energy in maintaining my social network on facebook. I joined facebook in 2006, when it was still a prestigious online network of only college students (you had to have a college email in order to register). I was a junior in High School, however, I was enrolled in a C.I.S. (College in the Schools) course of Hebrew, so I had a University of Minnesota ID and Email address. I remember one day I was spending time with my older brother and cousin, whom I have always thought of them as being "really cool". My cousin showed me this website called "facebook", which he described as a cooler myspace in that it is only for college kids, and its not creepy like myspace. So, I wanted to be more like my older brother and cousin, so I joined facebook using my University of Minnesota ID. And thus, I felt really cool, joining this prestigious network.
I had this unconscious motivation to be seen as "cool" online, so I constantly added more and more to my profile information- my music, movies and tv shows are filled to the brim with my interests. I thought that if people read it, they would think I'd be cool, and thus "friend me" on facebook. I wanted more and more friends, which I equated with "cool". In the same way, I joined as many groups as possible with the themes of favorite bands or TV shows or social issues regarding peace, etc. In addition to the motivation to be "cool" with these groups, I noticed that everything I did on facebook was also motivated by the thought that "Hey, girls might see my facebook, and then they might wanna date me!" I noticed facebook encroaching more and more on actual society. Like in the film, I constantly overheard people saying "facebook me", or "tag me in those pics". When I actually did enter college, my interest in facebook increased even more. I was constantly "friending" people that I met. I wanted more and more friends on facebook. I changed my facebook status daily, and checked the main facebook page regarding others' statuses multiple times everyday. I then saw facebook being incorporated into other forms of media. I saw facebook being talked about movies, on TV shows as sponsors and so on. As I am writing this blog entry, I am watching Law and Order SVU and there was an ad that came up at the bottom of the screen that said "go onto Facebook and find out more about shows on USA".
When I asked my girlfriend to be my girlfriend, right away, we went to facebook and changed our relationship status to in "in a relationship" with each other. It was as if, when I asked her and she accepted to be my girlfriend, it was only official in real society. We then had to make it official in our online social network. Once I got an Ipod touch, my addiction to facebook worsened. Now that I had access to internet all over campus or anywhere I could get a free wiki signal, I wanted to see facebook more often. After every class I check facebook, every time I get back to my apartment, I check facebook. I have this constant need to see whats going on in my "online social world" and with all my "friends" whom I haven't seen in years or only see once a month, or once a year. I made a personal rule that I would not friend anyone on facebook that I have not actually met in real life.
My facebook use has changed over time. At the beginning, it was all about trying to be "cool" and getting as many friends as possible. Now, it seems that I use facebook to keep up with my social network of friends to see their opinions and what they are up to.
Facebook has even influenced the business world in terms of hiring employees. At camp one summer, during staff week before camp started, we each had to attend an information session regarding facebook. We were taught that most companies look at people's facebooks who have applied to work for them. In addition, when working with kids, we were taught, like businesses, kids will look through our facebooks and make judgments about us regarding our interests, wall posts and pictures. Therefore, we were taught to limit our profiles to just our friends, and even change your name so that business can not find you. Finally, we learned the all important quote that, "you should not put anything on facebook that you don't want your grandmother to see." Whenever I add things to my faecebook, I think about what one of my campers would think about if they saw it. Furthermore, whenever I take pictures with friends, I make sure that there is nothing inappropriate, because I KNOW that it WILL be put on facebook, and I WILL be tagged in it. Despite all of this, I know that I surprisingly have a moderate addiction and use of facebook. I have friends that are more addicted and use facebook exponentially more than I do.
Despite all of the negative impacts associated with facebook, it is a tool that can be beneficial to classroom education. Using facebook chat and events, it can be an effective form of communication for students discussing homework or projects. In addition, a facebook profile can be created for a literary or historical character which can be "communicated" with or analyzed (make 2 facebook profiles of characters such as Shakespeare and JD Salinger and have them chat with each other on their walls.)