280MAPA research diary #5

Postdigital emotions

According to the dictionary, emotions are ‘strong feelings, deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.’ Most of the time we associate them with living individuals, therefore, it is hard to imagine them being digital/postdigital in any shape or form. However, with the constantly developing technology and devices, we learned how to digitalize our emotions without even realising.

In 2015, a laughing-crying emoji was chosen by the Oxford Dictionary to be the word of the year (Steinmetz 2015). This shows how we learned to transfer our feelings to a digital space, where they get converted to a digital smiley face which we use to represent ourselves online. Caspar Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Dictionaries simply explains that “Emojis are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders” which leads to the idea that we can express ourselves with emojis as well or even better than writing “old-fashioned” words.

Digital space and social media are feeling-driven, because people use those platforms just because they want to charge themselves with good emotions or boost self esteem. You feel better about yourself when someone likes your picture or leaves a lovely comment. It gives the tingly feeling in your stomach because you know you are relevant, appreciated and noticed. Though there is a lot of selfishness behind it. I think it really links to what an American media critic Herbert Schiller once wrote: “If present trends continue, all human interactions will be on a pay-for basis. This denies the social nature of human existence and elevates self and selfishness as the primary motivators of people. In such an order, common, or national endeavours have little chance of acceptance, and agreeable human associations disappear” (Curran and Morley 2006). The reason why we interact with other people’s content on the internet is because we want them to do the same for us. It all goes in a cycle.

As, philosopher Alphonse Lingis said, emotions are dangerous. Mostly because they make things way more complicated as most of the times they are unpredictable We can spot a couple examples in a TV series Black Mirror episode, called “Fifteen Million Merits”. In one of the most shocking scenes where Abi is auditioning for the talent show as a singer, she is caught off guard and offered to be a porn star. The pressure from the judges and the audience makes her feel tricked, emotional and lost. Abi ends up accepting the offer, because she thinks that’s what she’s supposed to do and she has to obey the rules. We could link that to emotional labour which “refers to the process by which workers are expected to manage their feelings in accordance with organizationally defined rules and guidelines” (Wharton 2009). People’s lives in the episode are like jobs because they have to live by certain regulations, obey the rules, thus Abi feels like she’s expected to regulate her emotions and adapt to the situation, which may mean going against her morals.

Overall, I think it’s important to emphasise how our way of portraying emotions has changed. It is impacted not only by human interaction but also by the environment in digital space and it will only continue to evolve.

 

References:

*** Curran, J. and Morley, D. (2006) Media And Cultural Theory. London [u.a.]: Routledge

*** Emotion | Definition Of Emotion In English By Oxford Dictionaries (n.d.) available from <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/emotion&gt; [13 April 2018]

*** Lingis, A. (2000) Dangerous Emotions. Berkeley: University of California Press

*** Steinmetz, K. (2015) Oxford’s 2015 Word Of The Year Is This Emoji [online] available from <http://time.com/4114886/oxford-word-of-the-year-2015-emoji/&gt; [18 April 2018]

*** Wharton, A. (2009) “The Sociology Of Emotional Labor”. Annual Review Of Sociology 35 (1), 147-165

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280MAPA research diary #4

Postdigital Aesthetics

In the dictionary, “the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty”  is called aesthetics. I believe that in the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in how people perceive and portray aesthetics and it is mainly the result of constantly evolving digital media technologies. The importance of it grew as well because not only does this generation is focused on beauty of physical things and appearance but also we usually have to portray an image of some sort on the internet and have a social media presence. Now we have the access to the virtual/digital world where new opportunities of exploring different variations of aesthetics arise.

The perfect result of aesthetics in the digital world is Virtual Reality. The right combination of image depth, lighting, good use of colours can create an illusion of a different world. According to Adam Dachis, “Your brain only receives the visual data captured through your eyes. While your eyes, together, can perceive depth, they can’t measure it perfectly or provide any contextual information. They simply pass along what you see and the brain has to interpret it. If your brain isn’t searching for a visual anomaly in the images your eyes provide, you’ll fall victim to the illusion.” That means, that we can easily get fooled into seeing unreal things and not even question them. By awkwardly sitting and wearing chunky tech glasses you are able to travel around the world, enjoy art or even play games by just moving your eyes/head. Games that expose the player to scenes that involve running, jumping, spinning can affect the person, because it tricks the mind. For instance, because of the visuals, you get fully immersed in the virtual world and your brain might think you are running in a field but your body remains stationary. This contradiction might result in undesirable VR motion sickness, also known as cybersickness. It causes “eyestrain, headache, nausea or even vomiting” (Tiiro 2018) as well as it can make us feel “stressed, depressed or drained of meaning”(Berry and Dieter 2015). “It has been estimated that around 20% to 80% of the population experiences cybersickness to some extent” (Tiiro 2018) and it proves how powerful aesthetics are.

The right use of technology can create a big change in the world as we don’t necessarily need to use it just for games. It can be used in workplaces for employee training if doing it in real life it too expensive or too dangerous. VR also takes a big part in education as it can bring the outside world to the classroom and improve visual learners’ learning process.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise how powerful the combination of aesthetics and the digital can be. For the sake of entertainment, education, work purposes it plays the human mind and lets us explore the other (advanced) world.

 

 

References:

***Berry, D. and Dieter, M. (2015) Postdigital Aesthetics. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK

*** Dachis, A. (2016) How Virtual & Mixed Reality Trick Your Brain [online] available from <https://next.reality.news/news/virtual-mixed-reality-trick-your-brain-0171367/&gt; [12 March 2018]

*** The Definition Of Aesthetic (n.d.) available from <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/aesthetic&gt; [17 March 2018]

*** Tiiro, A. (2018) Effect Of Visual Realism On Cybersickness In Virtual Reality. Master’s Thesis. University of Oulu

 

280MAPA research diary #3

Postdigital Space

I never got a chance to think about the difference between space and place as I thought they imply mainly the same thing but according to a german philosopher Martin Heidegged, space is abstract and place is the awareness of space (space with a meaning)(Collins and Selina 2015). Space can be digital too.

With the technology evolving at unbelievable speeds, our space is digitalised more and more everyday. An example could be a game called Geocaching. It involves the players following GPS maps on their phones, reading clues and instructions and looking for hidden “caches” in a secret manner. The players get fully immersed in the secret digital Geocaching world as they have to pay attention to the most random public objects, follow clues. It is interesting how the players and non-players have a different understanding of the space. Non-players probably will never pay attention random bushes, alleyways or rubbish bins, but people taking part in Geocaching see a bush, a bench, etc as a potential Geocache hiding place.

A major deal-breaker was the augmented reality game Pokemon Go which showed hundreds of millions of users that you can combine the fictional/digital world with the real space. Again it involves using GPS on your phone and following the map to find and collect Pokemons which appear to be in players real-life location, I find the concept of this particular game really interesting because it is quite unusual of games promoting physical activities. Even though it motivated people to walk (exercise), dozens of people got injured because of getting too involved and losing track of the real environment.  With AR games it is really easy to fall for the hyperreality traps. The main idea of hyperreality, according to Jean Baudrillard in “Simulacra and Simulation” is a “representation of reality” (ideology) and when “the real is no longer real”, Pokemon Go players lose track of reality and can’t consciously differentiate the two worlds (actual and digital). The fiction seamlessly blends in with reality.

To summarise, I would like to point how accessible the digital world is fro each and every one of us is. You don’t necessarily have to play the games to be involved. Even when you travel and follow the Google Maps directions you are in your own digital space. Depending on your intentions, we all can customise our own real and virtual spaces.

 

References:

*** Baudrillard, J. (1994) Simulacra And Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press

***Collins, J. and Selina, H. (2015) Introducing Heidegger. London: Icon Books Ltd

*** What Is Geocaching? (2018) available from <https://www.geocaching.com/blog/2018/03/what-is-geocaching/&gt; [6 March 2018]

 

280MAPA research diary #1

Postdigital Body

Human existence has always been questioned. People always wanted to figure out the difference between a soul and a spirit, a body and a mind. Back in the 17th century a French philosopher Rene Descartes came up with a mind-body dualism thesis and stated that mind and body are completely distinct and can exist without one another (Skirry n.d.). Nowadays we have to add another question to the pile and wonder how digital/postdigital we are.

According to the dictionary, body is the physical structure, including the bones, flesh, and organs, of a person or an animal, however, in this day and age it is a lot more than that. Due to advanced technology and medicine, our physical bodies are often enhanced and assisted by not-so-natural things. Starting from laser eye surgery, gastric banding surgery, to having fake teeth, prosthetics, artificial hearts, etc. In the digitalised era, our natural bodies become not so natural. They are digital and enhanced. Great real life examples are cyborgs who made augmentations to their bodies in order to improve themselves, such as Neil Harbisson who has an antenna installed in the middle of his head, Steve Mann who wears digital glasses that enhance his memory and his vision, etc.

Postdigital body, however, is a little bit more complicated concept. It looks at a physical body and technology/devices as a one piece, as one postdigital body. Deborah Lupton in  “The Quantified Self” wrote that ‘The personal data that are collected using self-tracking devices – photographs, videos, messages, interactions on social media, calendar entries, geological information, bodily functions and activities – become biographical repository of significance and meaning to the user” which means that body is seen as data, as internet/virtual identity.  We assimilate to our accounts on media platforms and we become the information that we share, which links to what media professor Mark Deuze said: “The spread of media, particularly digital media, into most avenues of everyday  life is so extensive that we should now not talk about living with ‘with media’ but rather ‘in media’, and therefore “living media life'”.

What a long time ago was a mystery and unreachable, now became a reality, a visual one. For example, human bodies can be seen inside and out by everyone. BioDigital.com is a website where anyone can look into human bodies, analyse the most detailed organs without actually having to interact with a person.  A modern human body (postigital body) is seen as some sort of medium and can be explored and studies by others.
In conclusion, I would like to say that human bodies are more complicated than I thought they are. My body extends to the digital space and social media and I am my data.
References:
*** Biodigital: 3D Human Visualization Platform For Anatomy And Disease (n.d.) available from <https://www.biodigital.com/&gt; [1 March 2018]
*** Deuze, M. (2012) Media Life. Cambridge: Polity Press
*** Lupton, D. (2016) The Quantified Self. Cambridge, UK: Polity
*** Skirry, J. (n.d.) Descartes, Rene: Mind-Body Distinction | Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy [online] available from <https://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/&gt; [1 March 2018]

Evidence of further training

For my second year of university, we all have to focus on the professional field we’re interested in and try to find out about it as much as we can.  Doing that will help us decide if the field is suitable for us and whether we need to experiment and find something else instead. Having that in mind, I started spending time looking into the PR/Communications field.

The first thing that helped me understand what the professional field is about was CW1 for 201MAPA. We were asked to draw a profession map and outline the most important parts of the jobs in that industry. That’s why I did a lot of research and collected numerous pages with important data for a Google Doc, analysed dozens of different job adverts and tried to sift out the information. I wanted to find out what the main job responsibilities are what skills employers are looking for.

Following my research online, I did further my knowledge by attending numerous events. I attended a couple Careers events (CU CareersFEST at university and  NEC Recruitment Exhibition in Birmingham) where I interacted with the employers or representatives from  different companies and organisations. My goal was to speak to as many people as possible from various companies (Sainbury’s, Lidl, Toys R Us, TkMaxx, Hilton, etc.) and figure out how they promote themselves, how they do PR and why it works for them. In addition, I incorporated my search for placements as I asked if any of the employers offer short placements in the PR field.

In addition, I attended a few workshops/meetings that were taking place during the Careers events. I went to see Julia Speeds from Enterprise Rent-a-Car talk about how to do networking and interact with employers at a conference called “CU CareersFEST Networking for Success with Guest”, listened to a presentation on the best ways to find a suitable job (“Top Job Searching Techniques”), went to see an employment specialist for a CV drop-in session so that they can give some valuable feedback on my both creative and ordinary CVs.

Besides all the events, I watched my first panel discussion with Mark Wylie, Sim Lee, Steve Stopps and Jason fox about their own experience working in the creative industries (“Careers in the Creative Industries”). That event helped me the most as I got the chance to hear about real life situations of real people and have a little chat with the guests afterwards. It was interesting to hear about daily challenges and obstacles that they had to overcome in order to become successful.

I made a great decision registering to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/ as I can be notified which useful and interesting events are happening in town. I already registered for a few future ones such as “CAREERS EXPO 2018: Student Diversity: Unlocking Potential” and “Coventry Jobs Fair”,which, as well as the placement that I am going to do during spring, will help me strengthen my knowledge and help improve as a professional person.

 

 

Professional Experience Plan:

A Proessional Exprerience/Developement Plan PDP is supposed to help people to set career goals and strategies how to reach them.

I decided to write my own PDP in order to evaluate my current professional state and identify the skills that I need in order to achieve my goals and get on the track of success.


I entered the professional careers field only some time ago. Mainly because I graduated school a year and a half ago, therefore, I prioritised getting ready for the exams and and sorting out my future studies plans. However, as soon as I moved out from home and started my university journey, I started focusing on my career.

During my first year, I attended the Careers Fest, however, I didn’t really know what to expect from it and how to approach the employers. That’s why I wasn’t too concentrated on a certain goal. I also was looking for any kind of jobs that would just help me pay the rent. Again, no certain goal. The beginning of my second year was different as I realised it’s time to start working towards something that would have a meaning to me. I found a proper job where I can improve a lot of skills such as written, verbal communication, problem solving, teamwork, etc. I attended numerous profession-related events which led to me forming a different understanding of the creative industries and learning about the employers perspective.

As everyone else, I want to be successful in life. My kind of success is me graduating university and finding a job (not necessarily straight away) that I love going to everyday and being able to support myself fully, without too much hassle. In order to be successful, I need to find the field that is the most suitable for me, where I can feel independent and free to express myself.

As for now, I am really interested in PR/Communications/Marketing field which is really broad. In order so succeed in it, according to my research, one has to have skills such as ability to work independently and collaboratively, ability to meet tight deadlines. In addition, confidence, great negotiation skills,  creativity and a “can do” approach are really common within PR field. I would say that I already managed to cross out a few skills from the list. For example, I improved my teamwork skills at university due to numerous group tasks, developed the ability to work on my own, without too much supervision at work. Also, I consider myself a creative person who is not afraid to take challenges and is willing try out a lot of things, however, there’s still something holding me back and I would like some aspects to be perfected and improved. For instance, sometimes I can be really unorganised, therefore I struggle to meet tight deadlines. In addition, I never knew how  and never really had a proper chance to negotiate as I’m quite naive.

Looking at all the skills that I could improve, I decided to be stricter on my daily routine and organisation skills. I will also try to overcome my stage fright and a fear of public speaking by taking more opportunities and approaching/speaking to as many people as possible. I will also do a placement in Wembley’s IKEA (the Service Office) which will help further my knowledge even more. I expect to talk to people from the PR field and find out about their stories, how they got in the industry, what they think is required in order to stand out, etc. I will also attend as many events related to carriers/creative industries as I can so that I can see the professions from different perspectives. I will talk to the guest speakers that are coming to our lectures just to find out about their professional experience and to expand my network.

I will put more effort in finding out if this path is suitable for me and hopefully, by the end of this year, I will know what I would like to do when I graduate.

Skills Audit

For my 201MAPA module we were asked to look at our skills critically and evaluate them.

The task:

Part 1 

The table on the following page provides a list of 12 transferable skills that you may have acquired during your time at university (academic or extra-curricular), while working, or through other experience. For each of the skills in the table, give yourself a score, ranging from 1 (low) to 5 (high), indicating what your level of competence is for that skill (see my answers bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 13.42.48

Part 2 

Look at 5 of the skills that are your strongest. Try to think of an occasion when you have acquired that skill, or put it into practice. Don’t limit yourself to course work – try to think of other activities and interests – e.g. being involved in the running of a society or travelling abroad (see my answers bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 13.43.08

Part 3

Look at the 5 skills with the lowest score – or five skills that you think you should develop – and consider how you can do to improve (see my answers bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 13.43.21

 

 

Networks

When working in creative industries, having a great network is a huge advantage. You can expand your network using LinkedIn or by going around, introducing  yourself and taking to people. That’s what I tried to do during my first semester of second year in university.

At the beginning of the second year I made a networking map with my main connections. I made an updated version roughly 3 months later and it really shows how many people I managed to contact and speak to (see images bellow and a pdf here: NETWOKRING)

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 14.36.28Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 14.36.16

Placement applications/employer exchanges

One of my modules at university (201MAPA) requires us to find ourselves a placement within the professional field we are interested in.

The concept of a placement is really interesting for me and it’s a totally new field as I have never been an intern. Therefore, I had to do a lot of research to find out what it is exactly and how to find one. I will share my journey here.

I began with registering to loads of different websites that offer placement adverts for student. The best ones I found: https://www.studentemploymentservices.co.uk/ ,http://www.e4s.co.uk/ , https://www.studentjob.co.uk/ , https://creativeaccess.org.uk/opportunities/ . I looked around and tried to figure out which roles suit me and my course the most.  I sent my CV to a few (Marketing Communications, Editorial, Digital marketing) however, didn’t receive any replies.

As Jules McCarty (BBC journalist) said in one lecture, you are most likely going to achieve more and better results by showing up to places and talking to people face to face rather than writing generic emails. That’s what I decided to focus on. I decided to attend employment events and try to speak with the employers directly and see what’s out there. Overall, I went to two career fests, a couple more events which I will talk about in another post, but the outcome wasn’t as pleasing as I would’ve liked. Most of the companies either didn’t offer any placements, they offered some but not in my professional field or they suggested a gap year placement. After all the unsuccessful tries, I decided to use my network.

I work at IKEA which is a huge company, thus I thought there might be some perfect opportunities for me. I will demonstrate a timeline of actions.

  1. I talked to a colleague who worked in IKEA for 10+ years and asked her for advice. She gave me some suggestions on which departments could suit me.
  2. I talked to my team leader and my manager. I was curious to find out whether IKEA offers placements in general and I wanted to gather more information about the procedures before taking any further actions. I found out that IKEA as a company is really supportive of people who are interested in exploring new departments and they don’t mind taking interns.
  3. I went to HR and asked if they have any available placements in PR/Communications field at the moment. However, I found out that Coventry’s store doesn’t have a separate PR department (it is combined with the Marketing department). Got an email address of a woman who’s a marketing leader in Coventry’s store.
  4. I emailed the Marketing leader and asked if there are any possibilities of getting a placement in the store (see email bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 02.28.53
  5. Received a reply with a suggestion to contact a more appropriate person – Communications Manager of UK and Ireland (see emails bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 02.29.09Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 02.29.25
  6. As my manager has worked in many cities and many departments, he knows a lot of people. That’s why I emailed him before sending another email to the Communications Manager. I just wanted to double check if that’s the right person (see email bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 02.29.59
  7. Received an approval from my manager (see email bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 02.30.09
  8. Sent an email to the Communications Manager (see email)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 01.54.21
  9. After a really long time waiting, I received another email from a different person saying that the man that I emailed at the first place has left the position and there are new people in charge (it explains a long wait). I got referred to a Consumer PR Manager (see emails bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 01.54.55Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 01.55.34
  10. I sent an email with more information (see email bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 01.55.49
  11. Haven’t received a reply in a bit, therefore wanted to double check if they would like to receive my CV or cover letter (see email bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 01.56.18
  12. Got a reply saying that it is being sorted and I don’t need to send anything else. However, the time is really busy and they will come back when they finally arrange the schedules (see email bellow)Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 01.56.41
  13. Talked to my manager about all the interactions made before, he promised to follow up with this case and make sure they manage to schedule me for a placement. He called the appropriate people and confirmed that it is being sorted.

Any further information is to be confirmed. Whenever they confirm the dates, I will be having my placement in Wembley’s IKEA store as they have the biggest PR/Communication department there.