Are we victims?

Technology 1

An interesting topic that arose during this module is the impact of technology on our lives. Whilst doing research on this module, I have come across academic texts, articles, and Youtube videos arguing that mobile phones have a negative impact on our relationships and sense of self, and, rather than improving the way we communicate, technology makes us selfish and separates us from the rest of the world. It is also suggested that technology has negative effects on our health, such as poor sleeping habits, neck and head pain, loss of eyesight and hearing, and stress. Kenneth Gergen (1991) described the immersion in technology as ‘social saturation’, implying that we are too consumed by technology. is bad.jpg

However, I strongly disagree with the idea that technology has an overall negative impact on our lives. Instead of being victims of the huge developments in technology that have taken place throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, we are in fact benefactors. Digital communication has changed the nature of our social connections for the better – today, we can interact with people from across the globe, connect with more people, and strengthen our relationships through use of technology. We have been introduced to incredible new concepts that we could never have imagined even 10 years ago.

Whilst it may be true that we feel we are unable to escape from the constant call of communication, whether this be replying to a message, answering a phone call, or sending an email, overall the expansion in the abilities of interaction have had an extremely positive effect on our society. As Gergen said: ‘a new culture is in the making’ – we just need to learn how to adapt to these amazing developments.


BoB’s Growing Media Archive

BOBBox of Broadcasts is an online archive of  TV and radio programmes with over 1,200,000 items currently recorded. As part of the University of Westminster, each student has access to this site, and is able to watch pretty much any television programme and is able to choose and record any broadcast programme from 60+ TV and radio channels.This archive is only available to UK higher and further education
institutions who pay the annual sum of £5350 per year.

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If this site had a Creative Commons Licence, everyone would have free access to the 1 million + programmes that have been published. This would be beneficial for consumers as they would, without cost, be able to catch up on missed programmes, watch or listen to broadcasts from several years ago, and watch recent television. Also, it would help to get audience reviews of BoB and its content and the site would be able to gain a lot more valuable data regarding audience preferences.

However, having fewer restrictions would be disadvantageous because there would no longer be a use for platforms like Netflix or catch-up services, which would harm the television and radio industries. Also, this raises the risk that the content on BoB gets abused by copyright, and licencors may not get the credit for their work. Finally, as university students who pay a loan to be here, we expect that this sort of service would be provided to us for free, so why should anyone who is not part of university be given this service?

It depends who your ‘friends’ are!


I would say my presence on social media is discreet. I have a Twitter account, which is not set to private, and I am followed by accounts I do not know, but the last actual tweet I posted was 5th September 2013 – there is nothing on my twitter for people to see! My Facebook profile, on the other hand, is private, so only my friends can view my post. I feel that Facebook is a more personal platform, whereas Twitter is often used professionally. However, there is only a certain extent that this privacy can go. For example, a friend may tag me in a photo, making my name, face, and activity is viewable to people I may not know. Therefore, although I may not share that I am on holiday with my friends, one of my group may post a picture, perhaps revealing that they and the rest of us have an empty house back home. This may not be a danger at all, but could also be incredibly risky – it depends who your ‘friends’ are!

I also have a profile on Instagram. I made this private for a while but found that this was more of a hassle than it was beneficial because there is a longer process to accepting follow requests and following other accounts. I also find this a nuisance when trying to find my friends to follow – the Instagram picture is only small, and people may not use their face for their profile picture. I don’t find Instagram a huge risk – yes, people can view my photos, and some of them may be a little embarrassing, but, like Twitter, I have nothing to hide!

Therefore, I think the risk of an exposed profile depends on the content you post on the social media, and who can see your posts.



Become Linked In!

LinkedIn is an online community with the purpose of ‘connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful’. The company have their own Youtube channel with over 47,000 subscribers and 39,378,591 views , Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and Google+, showing that it is not just the site itself which forms the online community. Members benefit by gaining valuable, professional contacts who can then help each other to build their career. Because members are described as ‘professional’ we feel as though we are skilful and experienced in our profession by joining the network, and that other professionals want to build contacts with us.

There may be a danger of being part of several different communities which have different purposes and are aimed at different audience types. For example, you may be a member of the LinkedIn community, but also use Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. This could harm the representation of yourself as a professional, because contacts on LinkedIn may search your name on Twitter or Facebook and see photos of you wearing a few too little clothes and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. This shows that we need to maintain a profile not only within one community, but across all of the communities we are a part of. We need to be careful of who our audience is, depending on how we want to portray ourselves, and be aware that everything we publish is seen.

The advantages of LinkedIn as an online network outweigh the challenges you may face whilst building your profile. LinkedIn is a healthy community to be a part of. While some virtual communities may encourage extreme and dangerous behaviours depending on the common interests of the members, this community encourages professional and successful minds and helps people to build their careers.

This video demonstrates how LinkedIn can help you to discover a career path as well as build your current career. The slogan at the end of the video is ‘Fast forward your journey’, showing the positive outlook that this online community attempts to share with its members.


The Ice Bucket Challenge: Campaign Success

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a perfect example of content which has been significantly shaped by the audience. If it wasn’t for audience participation, this campaign would not have gone viral and people would not be as aware as they are now of ALS.

Part of what made the challenge successful was that it was so easy to do, and anyone with access to social media could take part, then nominate friends to do the same. This aspect of peer pressure also forced the campaign to spread because of the social expectations placed on a person when nominated – refusing to do the challenge would make you unkind and insensitive, because it also means you are refusing to do something for charity which could be set up, filmed, and shared in less than half an hour.

Another major reason for the success of this campaign is that it allowed for personalisation. This meant that all videos were slightly different – some people poured ice water over their head and others filled the bucket with just ice, and some did the challenge in their shower while others were on the beach. Because of this element of personalisation, there was also competition to do the best challenge, which increased engagement with the campaign.

Therefore, it is clear that audience participation significantly shaped the content of The Ice Bucket Challenge, which was not only important for the success of this campaign, but also in teaching marketers valuable lessons about what makes a social media campaign go viral.



If you enjoyed my post, take a look at these articles about The Ice Bucket Challenge, which are both engaging reads!

Smartphones: Aids or Distractions?

A concept I find fascinating is the convergence of phone calls, messages, photos, apps, games, the internet, and social media on our smartphones. This could be considered a positive way in which digital technology has developed, as we are now able to access a variety of different things on a single device. However, there are some negative aspects of this type of convergence.

For example, work and social lives together have been merged together because of the mobile phone. It seems that social media such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and iMessage are becoming major platforms for discussing work scheduling, talking to colleagues about meetings and a whole array of other work-related conversations. One of your group messages on Facebook, for instance, may be friends socialising, and another is made up of fellow students in this seminar who are discussing when to meet up to prepare for the presentation. This means that going onto your phone to socialise and take your mind off work is difficult, because a message from a colleague could pop up any minute and again bring your mind back to your work, which can be stressful. This is also the same vice-versa – you may be writing a document or doing ‘essential reading’ for this module on your phone, but a message from a friend pops up which distracts you from the work you need to be doing. Therefore, the convergence on our smartphones could act as a distraction rather than something which is extremely useful to us.

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The Internet: Then and Now

Whilst learning about the history of the internet, I soon realised that many, if not all, of the internet’s revolutionary events occurred in the late 20th century. On the timeline provided, the last date recorded is 2007, the year in which there was a major move to have TV shows online. Therefore, it appears that nothing has happened in the last decade that is worth talking about in terms of the revolution of the internet. We have certainly experienced a vast array of major developments, including global communication, the popularity of social media, and the speed of the internet, but none of these have appeared to cause drastic change amongst our society and therefore are not labelled as ‘revolutionary’. Of course, some developments could be seen as revolutionary – take online shopping, for example. Sites such as Amazon and eBay have allowed consumers to browse through products they desire and purchase them without having to go into stores. However, these sites could just be seen as developments of the revolutionary event where ‘WWW’ was created, which essentially allowed online shopping to take place. I therefore find it interesting how we are developing what is already out there on the internet, such as websites, social media, software, communication, and even emoticons, rather than successfully enforcing completely new concepts and ideas.