Originally posted on RECREATING ME: Sunset Reflection This photograph fascinates. It represents so much about reflection, about illusion, about layered reality. Living high on an escarpment looking out over the Upper Derwent towards Mount Field, we experience so much that you don’t see when there is only a narrow sky above. And central to all…
HAS CONTEMPORARY DIGITAL MEDIA CULTURE FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED THE WAYS IN WHICH PEOPLE CONSTRUCT THEIR IDENTITIES?
Hi, I’m Jean, and today I’m going to explore a remarkable social change that has been transforming the way in which humans live. Around 20 years ago, digital technology advanced to a point where human interaction with both the physical and intellectual world underwent a dramatic shift. The contemporary digital media culture responsible for this shift now underpins the way people construct their identities.
So how does modern digital media culture transform the process of constructing identity? Smith and Watson point out that identity – the self, the “I” – is never a natural entity, but is a social and historical construct. The western world has an entrenched, top-down tradition where, according to Gauntlett, expert producer/creators form an elite that controls the flow of products, information, and skills to what he describes as a passive, relatively powerless ‘receiver’ audience of consumers. For this reason, and I quote from The Critical Media Project, ‘[s]ocial and cultural identity is inextricably linked to issues of power, value systems, and ideology’. Any change in these relationships will impact on the construction of identity.
Under the impetus of changing technology, traditional structure is also changing. Gauntlett argues Web 2 is essentially democratic, not elitist, and Grinnell points out that the distinction between producer and audience is becoming blurred. The old dichotomy between producer and consumer, according to Bruns, is being replaced by ‘produsers’ who both produce and consume. John Naughton argues, and I quote, that a ‘new ecosystem … richer, more diverse and immeasurably more complex’ is developing. The old paradigm is being turned on its head as a new and radically different culture develops.
Those most disadvantaged and isolated by the old structures that underpin traditional power relationships are now actively challenging them. This includes a wide spectrum of disparate groups, but I want to focus on indigenous Australians, and the way the least historically powerful, the least visible, and the most racially vilified social and cultural group in Australia, is constructing a new and powerful identity.
Digital media culture does not permit indigenous issues to be quarantined. Indigenous Australians are assertively injecting themselves into Australian political and social debate. . Today, they advocate for themselves. They construct their own authentic identities, not the paternalistic constructs of hostile Europeans , made even before invasion, and which, more than we like to admit, resulted in horrific, and unacknowledged acts of genocide (Tatz).In the debate over Treaty and Constitutional change, the Uluru Statement is recognised as expressing the position of indigenous groups. Unlike previous experience, however, attempts to misrepresent indigenous attitudes are failing, because the actual words, in the voices of those who speak them, can be readily accessed via the Web’s alternative media.
Public outrage at the treatment of indigenous youths in the Don Dale correctional facility forced change. Indigenous communities have harnessed the ubiquitous mobile phone to protect community members from inappropriate conduct of officials and police. Governments can no longer deceive Australians as they did with the 1967 referendum, or hide policies such as those that culminated in the tragedy of the Stolen Generations.
Action and interaction characterise the ‘produser’, and this also characterises the collaborative participation of indigenous Australians in Web 2. Their involvement is extensive and varied. A random and rapid selection of posts on Twitter, will reveal how sophisticated, collaborative, creative and diverse they are.
My generation is uniquely placed in relation to comprehending the significance of these social changes. We grew up in the world BDT – before digital technology. Our identities developed under, and at times in conflict with, top-down power structures: the majority of us were not produsers, but passive consumers.
Today, the structures that emerged alongside the development of literacy, are being challenged and replaced. The transition to a society that is based on digital media, with all that this implies, is revolutionary. We are constructing our identities in a totally new way. The impact of the shift we are experiencing will be in the long term greater than the changes that occurred in the pre-literate world as it made its transition to structures newly re-organised to accommodate changing social relationships.
ABC Indigenous <http://www.abc.net.au/indigenous/>
Bruns, A 2009, “From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation.” Paper presented at Transforming Audiences, London, 3-4 Sep. 2009., Retrieved December 2, 2017, <http://produsage.org/node/67>
Bruns, A 2011, Awash in Stars, MP3 from Digital CD, Brightest Before Dawn, Creative Commons, Some Restrictions, Snurblog, <http://snurb.info/node/1628>
Gauntlett, D 2011, Media Studies 2.0, and Other Battles around the Future of Media Research, Kindle ebook
Gauntlett, D 2011 Theory UK, Social theory for fans of popular culture. Popular culture for fans of social theory. <http://www.theory.org.uk/mediastudies2.htm>
Distefano, C 2016, Be(ing) active: passive potatoes or productive produsers, <https://ceciliawritesblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/week-two-being-active-passive-potatoes-or-productive-produsers/ >retrieved November 30, 2017 citing Grinnell C, 2009, From Consumer to Prosumer to Produser: Who Keeps Shifting My Paradigm? (We Do!)’, (2009, p. 597) ,
NACCHO, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health< http://www.naccho.org.au/>
Naughton,J 2008 Blogging and the emerging media ecosystem, <https://robertoigarza.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/art-blogging-and-the-emerging-media-ecosystem-naughton-2006.pdf>
Shut Youth Prisons Mparntwe, <https://shutyouthprisonsmparntwe.wordpress.com/>
Smith, S and Watson, J 2013, Virtually Me, A Toolbox about Online Self-Presentation, in Poletti, A, & Rak, J (eds) 2013, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, University of Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin. Retrieved: 30 November 2017 <http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/deakin/detail.action?docID=3445384.>
Tatz C 1999 Genocide in Australia, Research Discussion Paper, by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Retrieved December 2, 2017 <https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/products/discussion_paper/tatzc-dp08-genocide-in-australia.pdf>
The Critical Media Project, ‘Key Concepts, Paragraph 2, The Critical Media Project.’ n.d .Retrieved November 29, 2017 < http://www.criticalmediaproject.org/about/key-concepts/ >
Warlukurlangygu, Artists of Yuendumu, n.d. <https://warlu.com>
But it’s been a week of disaster heaped on disaster. I so envy people who have any compatability with electronic – digital equipment. (Don’t laugh – one day you may meet me and then the smile will quickly fade.)
I’m not quite sure how I’ve survived this week. And I’m not quite sure what to make of it all.
First there is the issue of digital technology itself. I thought iPads were supposed to be our ‘friends’. THEY MOST CERTAINLY ARE NOT. Neither are mobile phones – I’m supposed to own a ‘good’ one – HAH.
Nor is my computer particularly nice. Today it decided to get stroppy just because I’ve ‘picked on’ its friends. However, there was no need for a go-slow and “pretend to die on the spot”. I didn’t do any physical damage to them, just vociferously challenged their rather dubious morality.
It was a particularly nasty form of industrial action. I had been able to make it home with time to spare despite the frantic 50 minute drive, (it should have been 40 but it was Friday afternoon close to Xmas, hey?) There I sat, fidgeting and fiddling, and stressing myself silly. So it would be quicker to reboot, right. Three quarters of an hour later, we got finally got life. Too late for me.
Now, from the way Adam and the highy competent crew in ALC708/203 make it sound, putting a podcast together is a cinch – nothing to it. WRONG …. I had been so excited when after long hours of very hard work I managed to put a tentative talk together. Despite its obvious flaws, I’d made it, and uploaded it onto SoundCloud.
So proud I’d succeeded. It completely flattened me to miss the boat the way I did. What did I hear you say? Put it all down to experience! Like to see you do that.
Here’s a more formal appraisal 🙂
- I found out after I recorded each sound file, I had to somehow convert them to a MP3 file(the easiest)
- I finally worked out how to quickly transfer files from my iPad’s terrific audio programme to the computer.
- I learnt that the audio files from the recording programme on the phone had to be moved to the phone’s audio to be converted to formats usable by the programmes on the computer – and it took me a while to figure that out, let alone do it. Still I did manage, and there was one point quite late on I didn’t think I could.
- I started to enjoy playing around with Audacity. I still have NO idea how to edit audio files in iMovie etc. Might as well have tried to swim in mud. But I see lots of fun ahead with Audacity – if I ever have time. I need to find out how to make the recording even from part to part.
- I have “discovered” how useful Soundcloud is, and once I work out how to navigate it, I’m going to enjoy that … if I ever have time…
- Most important fact learnt is that I’m too wordy. Now, anyone who knows me just accepts that me being me. But I managed to cut well over 30 minutes of focused talking down to the 5. I shocked myself. It took a long time, but I did it.
- I am not at all comfortable with the new digital technology – am definitely just treading water, and at times only just managing to stay afloat after heading for the bottom.
- It’s the small things that should be easy that are the hardest to deal with. Things that a lot of people just ‘know’ and I don’t.
- I also realise I have a lot more ‘not known’ than known, and into today’s world that makes life for me very hard.
We have cared for one of our grandson’s for 15 years. We finally thought things were looking up for him – BUT. -today all that collapsed in a dreadful mess. Funding that has helped him in the last 12 months to find his feet and begin to make a real life for himself has just been slashed!
Even money – totally inadequate as it was – that allowed us to get him to the bus has been discontinued.
WATCH THIS SPACE
Dusk, Black Hills, New Year's Day 2017 In my front room, eyrie, window to the world, overlooking valley, field, and stretch to mountain, where in is out, and out is in, I sit, day-fogged, content, cocooned, immersed in words, and worlds away. late-twilight, day fading, dusk plumed the unseen sky, the curtained fields, and home; submerged by drifts of curling foam, shadow-dimmed the smoke-grey hills; fog-swirl, cloud-drift, and flow. light shift; subtle, barely noticed, seeping silent through the edges of awareness. a flicker, ghost-like, riffling air, vibrating with strange undertones of haunting, eldritch melody, faint sung disturbing, pricking conscious thought. my eyes glance up - I am transfixed, drawn out, up into cloud-fire; mist and tree and time and self are merged, cloud-swallowed, all substance gone, dissolved. Imagine this; an “other” world, unstable, shifting; smoke-brown mutates to brick-red ochre, crimson mists to rose, transforms to luminous red; and dims to barest flushing pink; endless synthesis and permutation, a passion-play, ethereal, suffused with shapeless, fluid form, where time itself shape-shifts. My mind, my body lifts, diffuses, drifts free in glowing light, then, disembodied, swirls with fog and cloud and mist, folds tree and field in crimson, rose, and glowing red, merges time with form, unfurls, flowing, seeping into sunset cloud. No more a separate entity,I'm magicked into transient form, colour and mist-merged. Imagine this. mist feather-formed flamingo wings, mysterious, alien fog, sensuous, sinuous in brolga dance; the flare of pink flushed cockatoo lifting in flight, the flame of scarlet robin's breast; heart-blood's crimson pulse; the softest touch of roseate dawn: all that ever was, will be, aglow, and glowing; passion, love, and gentle tenderness.becomes reality. Imagine this: embraced in sunset cloud, swallowed, atom-merged in glowing, writhing fog ebb and flow, ebb and flow - one long, long moment in one short life, one frail instant lingering, flowing, fading, fading ... light change, shape-shift; time slowed to this. one moment, one instant one fixed one boundless point in time. Copyright Jean Law – January – October 2017
Are there substantial links between hyperempathy – a condition of which I had not been aware of until recently – autism and creativity? This is a question I want to address in some depth. I have a personal interest in this issue because autism and related disorders affect so many of my own family. Me included
It is nowadays well known that people diagnosed as being located on the Autism Spectrum vary in their personality types, their skills and interests, their aptitudes and behaviours in the same way that people who a ‘neurotypical’ do. Or perhaps I should say this ought to be a well known fact. Sadly, there are far too many people who clump all autistic people into the same large unwieldy basket. It is an error that frustrates many of us who deal with the issues of abuse, bullying, disrespect and even contempt directed to themselves or members of their family on a daily basis.
Creativity and autism have been frequently recognised as being connected. I want to take that one step forward, and look at how this relationship may/may not affect my own family. There has been a succession of women on my mother’s side who have been very creative, although not always successful. There is also a long history of anxiety disorders, depression, feelings of personal and social inadequacy, clinical depression and alienation that shows up through 5 generations. This extends now to my granddaughters.
This pattern is not limited to the women in the family. 3 of my 6 grandsons have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum. Another has both verbal and physical dyspraxia. 4 of my grandsons – not all those diagnosed as having ASD but certainly including some – are extraordinarily bright. 5 have experienced serious bullying in the streets and in schools, both as children and as young men. This includes occasional bullying conducted by staff in their schools/colleges. 1 of my 6 grandsons has attempted suicide, and very nearly succeeded.
Recently there has been an explosion of knowledge about the way autism expresses itself in females. For many years the seeming disparity in the ratio of males to females diagnosed as being on the spectrum meant that autism was seen as a ‘male’ disorder. This is no longer the case.
So you should be able to see why the issues I have set out below interest me so intensely. I am particularly focussed on the three articles I have linked to this post. The issues they raise tie in closely with the experience of my own family, and in future posts I will be examining them more closely.
Dana Fenton 06 /11/2014, Exploring Hyper Empathy Syndrome. in Emotional & Stress Management, Steady Health
Henry Markram,1 Tania Rinaldi,1 and Kamila Markram1,* 01/11/2007, The Intense World Syndrome – an Alternative Hypothesis for Autism in Frontiers in Neuroscience
Sandra L. Brown M.A. 11/03/2012, Genetic and Neuro-Physiological Basis for Hyper-Empathy in Psychology Today