Our Nation’s Mental Health, Men And Our Digital Voice

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Upon opening the Facebook newsfeed, we are asked “What’s on your mind? Alternatively we can express an emotion or “feeling” in an instantaneous click. It is through social media, using our newfound digital voice, we are dissolving the stigma around our mental health. Mental health continues to be one of society’s most pressing issues (Utley, 2016).

For many the idea of speaking out about a topic that has been swept under the carpet for so many decades is daunting and for some, humiliating. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, those who were mentally unwell and could not “behave” or integrate well into normal society were commonly placed in mental asylums (Moran, 2009), where their behaviour could be contained, controlled and ultimately their mind contained to the four walls of a building.

Looking at our society now, we still have the same mental health issues to some extent. What is unique about the era we live in, is the role our digital presence plays in our day to day lives. It is our responsibility to harness the potential for online technologies for mental health promotion.  Through social media platforms, such as Twitter, campaigns exist, like the #IAmAReason hashtag, which took over Twitter amid the mental health outrage in April of this year. It was through this hashtag that people vented their anger and frustration at the TD’s who failed to turn up to the Dail for the Mental Health Debate that month, following cuts and failure to release the 35Million Euro to the HSE. It was through this hashtag that people showed they weren’t just another number, they were people who felt let down and vulnerable thanks to our nation’s mental health services. It was through this hashtag (merely a few characters squished together) that united so many people on a digital platform over an issue we are forced to take into our own hands. It was through this hashtag that someone in a depressive state or amid a panic attack, who has been turned away countless times by our health services, may have thought “wait, maybe I am actually a reason.”

 

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Men, a sex which are often overlooked when it comes to mental health. 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year, that equates to one every minute (The Movember Foundation). It is apparent that men are more hesitant to ask for assistance with their mental health than women. (The Movember Foundation).

“We’re alarmed by the increasing number of men who take their own lives around the world. We are working to ensure all men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable to reach out to others for support when they’re struggling.” — Therese Fitzpatrick, Global Mental Health Director

Recently there has been a popular campaign targeted at men’s mental health and suicide prevention. The campaign uses the #itsoktotalk, men from all over the country have been uploading selfies on social media sites to spread the awareness of suicide among young males. The movement has gone viral and encourages young men to talk to one another about their problems, and their mental health. Part of the campaign also encourages those involved to tag friends to take part, which reignites this whole idea of using our digital voice to motivate, support and share with others.

Of course this is only scratching the surface. Sufferers need more than a hashtag to get them through this week, the next few days, even just tomorrow. With poor mental health, there is no respite for many, the funding set aside for the amount of people suffering is simply inadequate. Getting people to talk is the first step, using social media to promote this idea is looking more favourable each and every day. Taking these topics into our own hands and onto these digital platforms is proving a lot more beneficial than detrimental. Today we are uniquely equipped to make a huge impact with our digital voices. If a trending social media campaign can motivate even one person to admit they’re in fact not okay, that’s taking a step in the right direction.

 

The Samaritans

www.samaritans.ie
Free phone: 116 123
Text: 087 260 9090

Aware (Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder & Anxiety)

www.aware.ie
Tel: 1800 80 48 48

National Suicide Helpline (Pieta House)
1800 247 247

Pieta House (Suicide & Self-harm)

www.pieta.ie
Tel: 01 623 5606

Grow (Mental Health support and Recovery)

www.grow.ie
Tel: 1890 474 474

Bodywhys (Eating Disorders Associations of Ireland)

www.bodywhys.ie
1890 200 444

LGBT

LGBT Helpline
Helpline:  1890 929 539

 

Bibliography

Moran, J. (2009), History of Madness and Mental Illness: A Short History of Care and Treatment in Canada, Available at: http://historyofmadness.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80

Utley, T. (2016), The Rise Of Digital Technology In Mental Health, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/toriutley/2016/05/24/the-rise-of-cognitive-technology-in-mental-health/#6205e03158fb

Walton, A. (2016), The Brave Voices Who Are Helping Dissolve The Stigma Around Mental Health, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/04/27/the-brave-voices-who-are-helping-dissolve-the-stigma-around-mental-health/#46e2d5af798a

https://ie.movember.com/programs/mental-health

 

Getting Intimate With Text – Voyant Tools

 

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As the digital age progresses, the way in which we can interpret and present data is transforming. With the help of digital tools and new technologies, information can be digitally visualised in order to improve its aesthetic appeal, as well as its clarity. Text data can be considered as one dimensional and is the simplest method of presenting data. It can be time consuming and impractical to analyse rows of text data. Humans are visual creatures, processing information based on what we see (McCue, 2013). Traditional textual formats of communicating information are changing into a more appealing, clear format of data visualisation.

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Voyant Tools, is a web-based project which offers its users a free reading and analysis environment for digital texts. Being an open source project, Voyant Tools is available to anyone who wishes to use it, and it accommodates a number of different languages. There are a number of different tool options that are accessible to users on Voyant 2.0. I decided to visualise the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The reason behind choosing this piece of digital text, was because of the Proclamation’s   significance this year. Ireland commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising.

Using Voyant 2.0, the piece of text could be visualised in many different formats. I firstly viewed the piece of text using the Cirrus option, which is a word cloud that displays the frequency of terms that appear in a piece of digital text.  Terms which occur more frequently appear larger on the word cloud. There is also a summary tool which accompanies the cirrus word cloud. This gives the user exact information on how frequent particular terms appear in their text. The words ‘Irish’, ‘people’ and ’government’ were some of the most frequent terms, apart from words such as ‘The’ and ‘of’, which have no noticeable significance to the matter of the text. For this reason, it is of importance that the user understands their text and its content. While the Cirrus tool visualises the frequency of terms, the user’s understanding of the text’s content is important when analysing their visualisation. One could conclude that since the words ‘Irish’ and ‘people’ were used so frequently, the republic was declaring independence from the United Kingdom for the benefit of the Irish people. Since the majority of Irish people wanted a republic, independent of the United Kingdom, the frequency of these terms might reflect the desires of the Irish people.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the Cirrus tool.

Secondly, the digital text was visualised using the Trends option on Voyant 2.0. This particular option visualises the document in a graph format. The relative frequencies within the piece of text are displayed using a line graph. Each term found within the text is assigned a colour, which then represents that term on the line graph. This tool breaks the document into segments, graphing the frequencies of words in each segment. There is also a key above the graph, showing what word belongs to what colour, I found this to be extremely helpful. The Trends option also allows users to visualise a number of texts on a single graph. This would be beneficial for data comparison purposes. The graph proved to be aesthetically pleasing and could easily be integrated into a project or study.  From visualising the proclamation in a graph format, it can be concluded that the term ‘government’ is of significance within the document. According to the graph, the term ‘government’ was almost consistently frequent within each segment of the text. Since, the terms ‘people’ and ‘right’ are most frequent together in segment 4, it can be concluded that these terms share a relationship. Perhaps an observation that could be made, is that the ‘people’ of Ireland have the ‘right’ to a republic.

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Visualising the Proclamation using the Trends tool.

 

The ‘Links’ tool, displays a network graph of higher frequency terms within the text and words that appear to be related or in proximity to these key words. Key words appear green in colour, while words that are presumed to be linked to these key words appear blue in colour. This tool proves to be very visually pleasing and puts the content of the text into perspective, through linking frequent terms in the text with terms in their proximity. The use of colour also enhances the attraction of this particular tool. It successfully creates a clear and concise visualisation. For example, from viewing my document using the links tool, the term Irish has been linked with, republic, generation, citizen and people. The links made here, present an accurate representation of the content within the document. The links tool could most definitely be utilised in both an academic and business environment. One of the reasons people  visualise numeric or text data is to compare and contrast, exposing the links between information within the data. This tool successfully links terms within my text document, in a simple, clear, coherent manner.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the Links tool.

 

The TermsRadio tool on Voyant 2.0, uses a graph format to display word occurrence over a period of time within a piece of text. The document is split into segments, the word occurrence within each segment is represented using colours and words themselves. Having analysed my piece of text using the TermsRadio tool, it can be noted that the terms ‘republic’ and ‘arms’ occur the most in segment three of the text, while the term ‘Irish’ occurs almost equally in all segments.The relationship between the terms ‘republic’ and ‘arms’ suggests that even though Ireland did not have the arms to sustain a permanent, National government, a temporary provisional government would suffice. This provisional government would administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic, until they had the appropriate arms to establish a permanent government for the Republic.  One could make various observations from using the TermsRadio tool and apply these back to the context of their data. This tool would be beneficial to those who wish to compare and contrast data within a single document.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the TermsRadio tool.

 

The Stream Graph is also another tool which visualises data using a graph format. While the other graph formats had used lines to represent the data, this particular one uses shapes accompanied by colour. There is a key available to the user, where the colour which represents each term is shown. Compared to the other graphs, I found this graph to be considerably more difficult to interpret. It appears that the larger the shape, the more frequent a term is. Similarly to the TermsRadio tool, the graph breaks the document into segments. Therefore the shapes on the graph represent the dominance of certain terms within particular segments. Visualising my document through using the Stream Graph was not as clear and concise as the other graphs. Line graphs enable for a more concise, clear interpretation to be made by the user. From analysing this graph, it is clear there are relationships between the terms ‘Irish ‘ and ‘people’. This relationship is reflected by the combination of orange and blue within the shape. Similarly, the terms ‘republic’ and ‘right’ are visualised together, once again, reflecting the content of the proclamation.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the Stream Graph.

 

Having experimented with Voyant tools, it is evidently a beneficial, innovative resource that promotes the transformation of reading and interpreting text data in a digital environment.  Voyant’s simple approach to visualising text data is what makes it appealing to the everyday user. In terms of what the visualisation process has added to my understanding of the content of the text, I was able to see links and relationships between certain terms more efficiently. The frequency of terms also indicated to me what factors were most important to those proclaiming Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom. To conclude, the entire visualisation process enabled me to understand the content of my document more effectively. It enabled me to compare and contrast terms within the text efficiently.

Bibliography.

McCue,T. (2013) Why Infographics Rule. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2013/01/08/what-is-an-infographic-and-ways-to-make-it-go-viral/#52afba6a353c [Accessed 1 April 2016]

 

OpenStreetMap

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Founded in 2004 by Steve Coast (Sterling, 2014), OpenStreetMap (OSM) uses User Generated Content (UGC) to compile its visual data. Since OSM is an open data source, any individual or company can access and add to the data within OSM. Any information added becomes immediately accessible to OSM users. OSM currently has an Open Database License (McDonough, 2013), which means that OSM along with all its data can be shared and used once all the data within OSM is made available to all OSM users. In this way it differs to outlets such as Google Maps and Google Map Maker, which is a closed system. Any information submitted becomes the property of Google (McDonough, 2013). OSM is ultimately a community-engaged project to collect geographical data for public use.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap tasking is a collaborative mapping tool. Its objective is to map areas that are not mapped sufficiently. Through the use of the OSM task manager, important humanitarian initiatives can be met. I participated in mapping the Morrumbala District in Mozambique as part of the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Campaign. The goal of this particular humanitarian initiative is to help indoor residual spraying programs in the area, which will help control and ultimately stop the spread of Malaria. The mapping of the Morrumbala District in Mozambique will help Peace Corps Volunteers to complete Field Papers to determine where to spray in the district.

 

 

 

The OSM task manager provided useful information with regard to mapping the area. I was evidently unfamiliar with the landscape and structural layout of the area. The OSM task manager provided me with a tracing guide, which I reviewed. I found this guide to be extremely helpful with regards to recognising houses and roads in the Morrumbala District.  This particular task focused on mapping a complete transportation network, as well as identifying buildings and waterways.

I also participated in mapping the Togo area in West Africa. The aim of this mapping initiative is to help contain the Meningitis outbreak. In order for the Togolese Red Cross and the government to contain and control the outbreak, mapping of roads, buildings and residential areas is a priority. Comparing this experience to mapping the Morrumbala district, I found the Togo area to be more straightforward to map with regards to noticing structural and geographical features. However, the Togo mapping task did not supply a tracing guide, the Morrumbala district task did supply this as well as alternative information.

 

 

 

Mapping an unfamiliar area proved difficult, I could only map on an indefinite basis. I could not be entirely sure if a road was secondary, residential or tertiary. The only guideline I could follow were the ones provided. Comparing the experience of mapping an unfamiliar area versus a very familiar area was interesting. Mapping through the task manager proved to be more stimulating and there were definite objectives for each task. The user could also see the percentage of progress made on each task. This reinforced the idea of OSM being a community engaged project. The task manager made it possible to view the contributions other users had made. Users can also validate and leave comments on other user’s work. I validated mapping by a user in the Vanua Levu area, which requires mapping after the Winston storm. Users were encouraged to map roads and buildings that had not already been mapped.

With regards to the additional features of OSM, a “User Diaries” feature is easily accessible to all OSM users. Users can contribute to these diaries by sharing their personal experiences using OSM as well as viewing other user’s comments. OSM also offers a feature called “GPS Traces”. This particular feature allows users to upload their recorded GPS traces directly to OSM. The collected data from the GPS traces are displayed as a background of dots and lines. These can help the user recognise map features while editing which adds to the functionality of OSM. These two additional features add to the interactive nature of OSM and reinforces the idea of OSM being a community engaged project. Not only is the site’s data compiled from user generated content, but users can interact and work collectively on an online platform.

To present all perspectives fairly, the limitations of OSM must also be considered. Since anyone, anywhere can contribute to OSM, the accuracy and reliability of the data inputted can be questioned. From my own personal experience with OSM and being an unexperienced mapper, attention to detail was required to ensure the mapping was as accurate as possible. It is apparent however, that OSM’s validation function can help counter this problem, work can be reviewed and validated accordingly.

Ultimately, OSM is a largescale crowdsourced map and its data is constantly evolving due to its thousands of contributors. Their contributors vary from GIS (Geographic Information Systems) professionals and engineers to enthusiast mappers and casual cartographers. Having experimented with OSM and its functionalities, it is evidently a resourceful, interactive digital tool that encourages the use of digital tools to meet important humanitarian initiatives. OSM could definitely be used for academic purposes. Its efficiency and simple functionality makes it a very appealing tool which could ultimately be adapted to research projects or portfolios. For example, research in relation to geographical space and its influence on cultural development and human behaviour would make use of a tool such as OSM. To conclude, OSM is a unique digital tool and promotes community engaged projects on a digital platform.

Bibliography

McDonough, M. (2013) Google Map Maker vs. OpenStreetMap: Which mapping service rules them all? Available at: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/google-map-maker-vs-openstreetmap-id-editor/ [Accessed 1 March 2016]

Sterling, G. (2014) Founder: OpenStreetMap Already As Good Or Better Than Google Maps. Available at: http://searchengineland.com/founder-openstreetmap-good-better-google-maps-already-192089 [Accessed 1 March 2016]

 

 

Reviewing a digital tool: CiteULike http://www.citeulike.org/

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Locating information for academic purposes is already challenging, sorting the information found is another common struggle among students and academics. Availing of the internet and online search engines for sources has become increasingly popular as supported by Reiger’s (2009) study. Collecting and sorting references can be a time consuming process, CiteULike is a digital tool that helps make this process more efficient. CiteULike allows the user to store, organise and share the scholarly papers they have sourced. Citation details are extracted automatically from the users’ personal library, where the selected papers are stored. CiteULike works from within the users’ web browser, adding to the accessibility of this tool. For the purpose of this review, CiteULike will be evaluated under a set of criteria;

Sustainability: How long has the tool been available for? Is the tool widely used? Can data be exported?

Efficiency: How easy is this tool to navigate? Does the tool supply adequate information for new users? Does this tool perform as it claims to?

Contribution to Knowledge: Does this tool contribute to the efficiency of the users’ research process?  Can data collected be shared with others?

Firstly, the tool will be evaluated in terms of its sustainability. CiteULike has been available as a free web service since 2004. As of 2007, there were 33,000 registered users, this number was reported to be growing at 100 users per day (Emamy & Cameron,2007). CiteUlike has accumulated a large community of users and is continuing to grow. The unique combination of a bibliographic management tool and a social bookmarking service is what makes CiteUlike so appealing. There are currently over 8 Million articles stored via CiteULike , compared to over 2 Million in 2009 (http://www.citeulike.org/).

CiteULike users and their selected articles are not confined to their web browser, the users’ personal library can be exported to their computer in various formats (ie. PDF,RTF,Plaintext). Since CiteULike is an open source tool, the content available depends on the amount of active users and the type of papers they are storing. CiteULike is evidently a very sustainable, viable tool that promotes the sharing of knowledge and has a large community of users.

Secondly, CiteULike will be evaluated in terms of its efficiency. The basic navigation and functionality of the tool is simple, step by step assistance is offered for new users. Scholarly papers can be stored instantly once the CiteULike browser button is installed. Users can organise their papers in their own personal library, which can be organised by user generated tags. These tags enable users to navigate libraries and discover new papers that have mutual tags. Users also have the option to prioritise papers of superior importance, adding to the efficiency of this tool. CiteULike also offers an alphabetical listing of journals as an alternative for users who decide not to locate their own articles.

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Another addition, is the subject specific pages where the latest papers are listed according to the subject they are classified under. This enables the user to explore papers under a specified category in an efficient, easily accessible way. “Citegist” displays the most popular articles in the past seven days within CiteULike. In this way, it is easy for a user to uncover new, popular articles that may be of relevance. CiteULike is unquestionably a highly efficient tool for collecting, storing and sharing scholarly papers.

Finally, CiteULike will be evaluated in terms of its contribution to knowledge. This particular tool facilitates the sharing and consumption of academic literature (Emamy & Cameron, 2007). A function entitled “neighbours” is incorporated in CiteULike, users who have bookmarked the same articles are shown here, connections can be made between users. Researchers in similar fields can build up professional networks, thus promoting knowledge sharing.

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Since every users’ bibliographic database is web based, users can browse each other’s collections. Of course this is not favourable for every individual, but gives users the opportunity to share and consume new academic information. The use of user generated tags also contributes to CiteULike’s contribution to knowledge. Users can explore academic papers under tags that interest them, which enables them to uncover articles others have collected.

In terms of CiteULike’s contribution to the efficiency of one’s research process, it succeeds in making the collecting and sorting of sources an easy task. It is an added bonus that the collections of others can be viewed. Not only does CiteULike act as a social bookmarking service, it also efficiently extracts the relevant metadata required for the bibliographic database (Emamy & Cameron, 2007). This contributes to the efficiency of the research process, sources can be cited almost effortlessly.

To present all perspectives fairly, the limitations of CiteULike must also be considered. Since CiteULike is an open source, their success is dependent on input from their users. CiteULike also has visible competition, Zotero being one of them. It is notable that it is mainly only articles available to store in the users’ personal library (Suhrstedt, 2009). It would be beneficial for CiteULike to be compatible with other forms of sources such as audio and video.

To conclude, CiteULike encompasses much more than just a bibliographic management service. It allows for professional networks to be built among users who share similar academic interests. CiteULike’s simple functionality and accessibility makes it an appealing outlet for those conducting academic research. Having evaluated this tool under the set of criteria (outlined above) it is evidently a beneficial digital tool that could be used universally.

Bibliography

-Emamy, K. and Cameron, R. (2007) Citeulike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service. Available at: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue51/emamy-cameron [Accessed 9 February 2016]

-Rieger, O.Y. (2009) ‘Search engine behaviour of students and faculty: User perceptions and implications for future research’, First Monday, 14 (12), pp.1-5. Available at http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2716/2385 [Accessed 8 February 2016]

-Suhrstedt, L. (2009) Citeulike. Available at: https://digitalresearchtools.pbworks.com/w/page/17801649/citeulike [Accessed 9 February 2016]

http://www.citeulike.org/ [Accessed 9 February 2016]

 

 

 

Interactive technology – Storytelling in the digital age

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The introduction of new digital tools has allowed for storytelling to be a more immersive experience; it allows the audience to have a higher level of engagement. The idea of storytelling has exsisted for generations. In recent years the way in which literature is represented has progressed. The basic structure of a story; a plot, a narrative, characterisation, has not changed. The platforms they are shared on have. The combination of the art of storytelling with multimedia such as video, audio and graphics has become more popular in the digital age (Alderman, 2013)

Digital literature is often represented through video games, interactive documentaries and through some social media platforms. The combination of storytelling and the digital age has added another dimension to literature. Interactive technology allows for the audience to have an increased level of emotional engagement. Each user will have a different experience because of this interactivity, improving audience engagement. Interactive technology has the ability to represent choice, allowing the audience to influence the story. The interplay between creativity and technology can be seen in certain video games. Games or digital media that contain a storytelling component can be useful for decision making and problem solving. Digital storytelling allows for the development of critical thought.

Interactive documentaries such as Bear71 prove to be hugely immersive and engaging. The user is directly involved in the telling of the story. Even though the same narrative and soundtrack was heard by each user, each user’s experience was different because of the interactive nature of Bear71 .This allowed the documentary to be more engaging than a traditional documentary. This interactivity enables the audience to have a more immersive experience.bear.jpg

Interactive technology could help optimize children’s potential in a learning environment. Fun, interactive tools help children retain more information thus optimizing their learning opportunity (N/A,2012). Children get distracted easily, interactive technology could help children remain attentive. Promoting technology to children is sometimes frowned upon by older generations, however the children growing up in this digital age will be expected to be accustomed to the technological era. It is inevitable that interactive technology will be utilised in learning and development environments.

Television was once just an electronic box people sat in front of. Today, interactive technology has enabled the interactivity between the user and their device (such as a television). This interactivity allows for a more immersive experience, allowing more information to be shared and collected. Take the Wii console as an example, a highly popular device for all age groups. The user’s movements/actions are broadcasted onto the television screen. There are various fitness, roleplay, story and educational Wii games. They’re all of an interactive nature, the user plays a significant role in the telling of the story or of the completion of tasks.

Interactive technology is developing at an unprecedented level and will continue to develop as the digital age progresses. Stories that are represented digitally and allow interaction enable the user to have a more immersive experience. The possibilities for interactive technology ranges from education to advertising.

 

Bibliography

Alderman, N. (2013) How interactive technology is transforming storytelling, url: http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2013/jul/12/interactive-technology-transform-storytelling-fiction Accessed on the 3rd of December 2015

De Leeuw, I. (2011), The 6 Most Innovative Interactive Web Documentaries, url: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/the-6-most-innovative-interactive-web-documentaries Accessed on the 4th of December 2015

N/A.(2012) Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8,url: http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PS_technology_WEB2.pdf  Accessed on the 3rd of December 2015

 

 

Booktrack: The future of reading?

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As the digital age develops traditional concepts also develop. Reading itself has not changed, however the various ways people can read has. We have not been taught new ways to read, but have found new platforms to read from. Readers are not just confined to a paperback or hardback text. Text has been digitalised and can now be collected and shared through an internet connection. The amount of people who read from a screen has increased hugely (Hayles,2010) .The introduction of e-books and electronic reading devices was met with mixed emotions. Many saw traditional books as the only way to properly read. Others saw these reading devices as an easily accessible catalogue of books in their back pocket.

Text has not only been digitalised and confined into a tablet, there have also been many possibilities with regard to book soundtracks. Their purpose is to provide the appropriate soundtrack to the text that is being read. Booktrack offers this service, it works off an estimated reading pace and inputs the appropriate soundtrack in accordance with the text. Booktrack claims to transform reading, just like sound transformed film (Booktrack,2014) . Its idea is to provide a soundtrack that emotionally corresponds to the words on the page. Having explored some books that Booktrack had to offer, it is evidently an inventive idea. However, the entire reading experience alongside a soundtrack proved more challenging than immersive. The point of the ‘movie-like’ soundtrack is to make the text more engaging. I found myself concentrating more on pace rather than the text itself. It was very difficult to read at a normal pace while the soundtrack was playing. This in turn caused the soundtrack to be faster than my reading pace, which confused the situation even more.

The question also arose whether books with soundtracks would entice non-readers or occasional readers to read more. It is apparent that a book with a corresponding soundtrack does sound more fun and intriguing, it adds another dimension to the written word. However, adults who have not read for leisure in several years would probably not become avid readers solely because of an added soundtrack. It most definitely would be of interest to avid and occasional readers at first, but might prove to be more of an annoyance than anything else. Is this the future of reading? Will ideas like this transform how people read? Or will people stick to a more simplistic approach?book2.jpg

Booktrack also offers a ‘create’ section, which allows users to add a ‘movie-like’ soundtrack to their own text. This particular section on their site could definitely be utilised in a learning environment. Children, who are encouraged to read from a young age would find a tool like Booktrack more stimulating than a traditional book. The ‘create’ section would appeal to children and would promote creativity on a digital platform.

David Gutowski (Morais, 2011) argues that adding a movie-like soundtrack to books would no longer allow books to be books, but more of a multimedia experience. The combination of literature and music could quite possibly be the future of reading for those who want a multimedia experience as they read.

 

Bibliography

Morais, B. (2011), Books With Soundtracks: The Future of Reading?, url: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/08/books-with-soundtracks-the-future-of-reading/244344/ Accessed on the 4th of December 2015

Hayles, K. (2010), How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine, url: http://nkhayles.com/how_we_read.html Accessed on the 4th of December 2015

 

My critical response to the evolution of storytelling

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The unique combination of the digital age and the art of storytelling has resulted in the evolution of storytelling. In recent years storytelling has been adapted to the digital age, like many other traditional concepts. The digital age allows for the interplay between creativity and technology. My “twessay” focused on this particular relationship between storytelling and technology. The possibilities the digital age offers to storytelling is varied, ranging from advertising to publishing. Recent technological advancements have allowed for storytelling to be utilised on digital platforms, for both commercial and personal use. Technology and the internet has profoundly affected how we consume and collect information. Even though the tools have changed, the basic structure of storytelling has not changed.

The various tweets from my classmates focused on the interactive nature of storytelling in the digital age and the accessibility of communication. The traditional ideas of storytelling still exsist but have been adapted to the current digital age. The combination of technology and storytelling has also enabled storytelling to be shared universally, to all nationalities and languages. This allows for ideas and information to be shared to a wider audience. Digital platforms in this way have enabled information to be shared universally. Arlene (@arlsmur) explored this idea in her tweet. She also noted that how we tell a story has evolved, this can be credited to the evolution of the digital age. The proposed possibilities of storytelling in the digital age were explored in the various tweets.

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Storytelling is commonly used in advertising for large scale companies. The traditional structure of a story; a plot, characterisation, a narrative remains. The use of this structure to convey a story has often been used in advertising on digital platforms. Digital media such as video, has added a new dimension to the idea of storytelling. Andrew (AndyWiggins_DAH) explored the evolution of stories and how they are delivered to their audiences.

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Stories, in a traditional sense were once delivered by word of mouth or by the written word. The digital age has added diversity to the concept of storytelling.

In recent years, storytelling has evolved visually. Visual aids, such as video and images has enabled storytelling to be utilised in the gaming world. Interactive documentaries have also availed of the qualities of storytelling. The increased popularity of gaming and its proposed educational benefits is an example of the diversity of storytelling. Danielle (@dansull22) noted how storytelling has evolved to be interactive.

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The tweets exploring the evolution of storytelling illustrated how technology can benefit more traditional concepts, like storytelling. Storytelling has evolved and will continue to develop as the digital era evolves and develops. The “twessays” explored every aspect of storytelling. There appeared to be a huge focus on the interactive nature of storytelling in the digital age. The core elements of storytelling have not changed, the platforms they are shared on have.

 

Bibliography

-Clayton,S. (2014), #Cannes_Lions 2014: The art and science of storytelling in the digital age, url : http://blogs.microsoft.com/next/2014/06/10/cannes_lions-2014-the-art-and-science-of-storytelling-in-the-digital-age/ Accessed on the 26th of November 2015

-De Monte,M. (2012), Dawn of the ‘Story Arc’: The Return to Storytelling in the Digital Age,url : http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/12/dawn-of-the-story-arc-the-return-to-storytelling-in-the-digital-age/ Accessed on the 26th of November 2015

-(2012), Social media has evolved into the art of storytelling, and we must all become masters of it, url : https://www.simplyzesty.com/blog/article/november-2011/social-media-has-evolved-into-the-art-of-storytelling%2c-and-we-must-all-become-masters-of-it Accessed on the 26th of November 2015

Media in the digital age

media

Media has always been one of the most powerful ways to influence the masses. Even with regard to Hitler’s days, his use of media to consolidate his power was very effective. No matter how hard you try, you cannot get away from the media, whether it be radio, newspaper, television, social networks or advertisements on bus stops. Media combined with the digital age is somewhat of a phenomenon, there has never been a time when media could be shared at such unprecedented levels. As of 2013 there was 757 million daily users on Facebook (Protalinski,2014). Media is one of the main means of mass communication, social outlets like Twitter and Facebook allow for this mass communication to flourish in the digital age.

I think one of the best ways to look at media and how it has developed in the digital age is to take a look at its past. Take Stalin in the 1930’s, he developed a cult of personality through the use of mass media, to consolidate his power. His propaganda regimes were initiated through the use of mass media (Borade,2014). Similarly, Hitler used a great deal of mass media to gain support for his Nazi Party and to infiltrate German society, brainwashing the masses, through radio and loud speakers. He even appointed a propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, who was in charge of radio, theatre, cinema, anything that influenced the masses, and ultimately secured the continuity of the Nazi Party. In some ways the use of media in those totalitarian states can be linked with media today in the digital world.

We are constantly “consumers”, even without knowing it. We are being virtually followed on our phones and laptops, to find out our interests, what we look up, what we buy, what companies we’re liking or retweeting. Advertisements and “deals of the week” are thrown at us everywhere we go. We are constantly being updated on the latest political scandal, celebrity pregnancies, stock exchanges, what the government want us to know. What ‘gives’ us cancer?, what ‘doesn’t give’ us cancer?, what to eat , what not to eat, “you should avoid carbs, not sugar, actually we change our mind, no sugar”. It’s okay though, because we will listen to them, we tend to trust the media, and it has never been easier for the media to influence the masses in the digital age.

If you take boybands as an example, in recent years the power of digital media has enabled Boybands like One Direction to have such a broad fan base so early on in their career. Having done no promotions in places like Japan, the power of social media enabled them to perform to thousands of Japanese fans on their first visit in 2013(they played to 120,000 this year in Japan).They have played to thousands in Indonesia and Dubai, places the Beatles did not even play. Since The Beatles were most prominent in the sixties, they did not have the power of digital media that these newer bands have. Media is no longer confined to radio and newspapers –the combination of the digital age and media is revolutionary in itself, the power it has over public opinion and society is growing rapidly.

Since the digital world has developed into a ubiquitous source of news and information, the question arises of the long term viability of printed newspaper. Will more traditional forms of media still remain reputable in the near future? Or will digital media continue to grow and influence the masses?

 

Bibliography

-Borade, G. (2014), Stalinism and the Use of Propaganda by Joseph Stalin, url : http://www.buzzle.com/articles/stalinism-the-use-of-propaganda-by-joseph-stalin.html Accessed on the 29th of October 2015

-Marshall, J. (2015), Digital Media Consumption Is Booming as Investment Floods In, url : http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2015/08/19/digital-media-consumption-is-booming-as-investment-floods-in/ Accessed on the 29th of October 2015

-Protalinski, E. (2014), Facebook passes 1.23 billion monthly active users, 945 million mobile users, and 757 million daily users, url : http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/01/29/facebook-passes-1-23-billion-monthly-active-users-945-million-mobile-users-757-million-daily-users/ Accessed on the 29th of October 2015

-Picture -http://www.stephenpokorski.com/digital-marketing-and-digital-marketing-jobs-in-2015/ Accessed on the 29th of October 2015

Emoticons and our emotions

emojis oct

Over the years there have been many abbreviations within the English language, “for example” to “eg”,” post scriptum” to “PS” and of course you have the introduction of text talk abbreviations, don’t feel like typing see you soon,”cya” should suffice. In the digital age we live in we are constantly looking for short cuts to our exsisting short cuts. We want everything at the tip of our fingertips, so the idea of little icons to express our emotions is very appealing .The first emoticon (which represented facial expressions using various keys on a keyboard) was said to have been used in 1982 but since then advancements have been made and Emojis (a small digital icon) were introduced. Emojis are universal and can be understood by all languages. Even Hermann Melville’s classic, Moby Dick has been translated into an emoji version entitled Emoji Dick (Robb,2014).

I think I would be an occasional emoji/emoticon user, I do feel as if they have added another dimension to the written word. I mainly use them to express an emotion, happiness, excitement, anticipation, fear, everything is covered. Emojis are also integrated into the keyboards on iPhones, which is nearly suggesting all your texts or interactions should include these friendly digital icons. It is then made even easier for the user by having your recently used emojis pop up (some of mine include, the laughing crying face, the smug smirking face, the salsa dancer and the unamused face).So, my phone is telling me these are the top emotions that I have shared with people (or have sent to myself), although in person I was not nearly half as expressive. Take the crying laughing face for example, I use this around five times a day, and I am probably not “crying laughing”, at most, I might have sniggered.

It got me thinking, if over-exaggerating our emotions could affect our interactions and how we express and interpret emotion in real life, how serious should a winking face be taken ;)? Why is there three variations of the tongue face, a winking one, a closed eye one and an open eye one, should I be offended if I receive the closed eye version? I am confused, this would be a perfect opportunity to use the ‘speak-no-evil’ monkey emoji, but maybe someone else would use the ‘see-no-evil’ monkey. Do we feel, perhaps a bit disappointed talking to someone in person who is much more flamboyant and exciting using emoticons/emojis (are we setting people’s level of emotional engagement too high?). Having read an article in relation to emojis and our emotions, I found it interesting when they made a point about the gender divide in relation to emoji usage, based on the ideology that females are more emotional, they tend to use more emoticons(Robb,2014).

There is also the fear that we may not value physical emotion as much as we would have, could this hinder our ability to develop psychologically by not being able to express our emotions properly in real life. Since we are living in a constant virtual reality, it is not that absurd to think of these possibilities in relation to emoticons/emojis and their usage. Since we seem to be throwing happy, sad, angry, confused, crying, frightened icons around, there may come a time when we fail to recognise real emotion if it is not expressed digitally. Of course, these are all possibilities, I would be very interested in researching further into this idea.

Niamh x

Bibliography

Bartlett, Q. (N/A), Emoticons, a Return to “Hieroglyphics”?, url: http://revelfoundry.com/emoticons-a-return-to-hieroglyphics/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Marsden, R. (2013), More than words: Are ’emoji’ dumbing us down or enriching our communications?, url: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/more-than-words-are-emoji-dumbing-us-down-or-enriching-our-communications-8610767.html Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Robb, A. (2014), How Using Emoji Makes Us Less Emotional, url: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118562/emoticons-effect-way-we-communicate-linguists-study-effects Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Seiter, C. (2015), The psychology of emojis, url: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/06/23/the-psychology-of-emojis/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Picture: http://getemoji.com/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

My critical response to #openness

photo

Open access proves to be an extremely controversial topic on many discussion and social media platforms. The idea of openness can be interpreted in various different ways. I was interested to find out my peers’ opinions on this particular topic and more importantly compare them with my own views surrounding open access and the whole idea of knowledge being openly shared. I wasn’t particularly surprised to see that my attitude towards openness was similar to my classmates’. The general consensus was that knowledge should not be available on a restricted basis, or only available to those willing to pay. It shouldn’t be concealed. It was interesting to see people’s different ways of viewing openness, some visualising it as a tangible concept, like a “box” of knowledge, others considering it more as an intangible concept, it is merely information floating around.

It is not until I have come to college that I have started to properly appreciate the importance of other people’s research, how it can be retrieved and how much it costs to get your hands on it. While researching for my assignment for my minor Arts subject I have come across obstacles regarding open access, I have come across a handful of academic articles that meet the specifications of my essay title, but are only available to me (a student who is contributing to this country) for a small fee of 180 euro. I will probably never get my hands on these particular articles, I’m not that upset. However for someone in the medical or scientific field, an article that proves challenging to access could make or break a potential medical advance or scientific discovery. From observing the various “twessays” surrounding openness, the general consensus is that putting a restriction on peer reviewed academic articles or research, inhibits one’s ability to acquire knowledge.

Not only could open access benefit those looking for information but it could also benefit university libraries economically, by not having to purchase subscriptions to as many academic journals. The prices of journals have been described as unsustainable and untenable (Suber,2012).Journal prices are inflating and the average academic library budget cannot handle the financial demands of such journals .Can library budgets meet the increasing cost of journal subscriptions without some form of open access being introduced?(Worlock,2004).

There is also the debate that open access journals (as opposed to costly subscription journals) would undermine important values such as editorial quality (Van Noorden, 2013).The question also arises whether expensive, reputable journals can survive in an open access world. Students are not just seeking out open access research, but research that has been peer-reviewed, this proves to be of huge importance in the science and medical fields. I feel like the most important thing in regards to open access is not just to have a huge quantity of information accessible, but also to have quality information that can be accessed on an unrestricted basis.

In regards to the “twessays” and their content, the topic surrounding the quality of open access such as editing and reviewing was not explored. Open access has its limitations, however the proposed benefits of open access outweigh these limitations. I felt like the benefits surrounding openness were only explored and the limitations were not touched on. You have problems regarding sustainability, quality control and publication fees. However the various benefits of open access which were explored in the “twessays” included the idea of knowledge for all, increased readership and more possibilities for those in third world countries. I was not surprised to find that my viewpoint in regards to openness was similar to my classmates’ opinions. I really enjoyed @jadwiga_98’s idea of openness being a box,and the information inside to be shared on an unrestricted basis.photo (2)

I also enjoyed @deebrady_dh’s focus on inspiring creativity through open access.

photo (1)

“The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it.”- Aaron Swartz


Bibliography

Suber,Peter (2012),Opening Access to Research,url: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/opening-access-research

Van Noorden,Richard (2013),Open access: The true cost of science publishing,url: http://www.nature.com/news/open-access-the-true-cost-of-science-publishing-1.12676

Worlock,Kate (2004), The pros and cons of Open access,url: http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate/34.html

The Internets Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58

Moravec,Michelle,Writing in Public,url:

http://michellemoravec.com/michelle-moravec/

Swartz,Aaron (2008), Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,url: https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt