BCM112 · Daily Creative · Digital Media · Movie

A Pixelated Haze: always on connectivity

This video explores the relationship we have with our mobile phones, looking at the ‘always on connectivity’ we interact with, in an extreme day in the lif scenario.  I have included a transcript of the voiceover below for two reasons: The first is so that you can choose to read along if you wish, and the second is because it details the research and planning put into the exploration of this mobile relationship.

After posing this scenario, I’d like to pose the following questions: Does mobile technology have a greater control on our lives than we have over the devices, does our need to be always connected sacrifice other elements of life while enhancing some, and if so, are we comfortable with that sacrifice?  As a designer, I also started thinking about how this constant connectivity could apply outside of this personal experience, and so I propose some further thought, in relation to branding and social media: Does an online brand presence have to sacrifice the typical ‘9-5’ hours in order to stay connected and have the biggest impact with interested user base?  Furthermore, do the often transparent platforms of social media give the audience more control over the organisation than what we’ve previously had, as a result of constant connectivity to the brand, and the possibility for conversation: both good and bad?  To put this secondary question into a more practical example, when users tweet negative feedback about UOW and hashtag it with #ThisIsUOW, does the university have more or less control than it did before it created this identifying tagline to market and brand itself with?


TRANSCRIPT:

As you drift off to sleep, the light shines strong for a minute or so, until your eyelids close.  You venture into a world of limbo as it falls to your side.  When you finally awaken from your slumber you turn back once more to that small source of information, your phone which sits ready, waiting, looking to report what you’ve missed while you have been ‘away’.  The screen welcomes you like an old friend, however your attention jumps from one application to another.  You crave the information you have missed, but don’t care enough to look at the details.

When in a physical setting with other people, though you may be discussing things with the other members present, your eyes are fixed once more on that tiny portable screen.  Your attention is divided between phone and friend, and although you are listening to what they have to say, you can’t ignore the call of a notification as it vibrates in your pocket.  Your friends may be real, but your digital presence is your priority.

Constant connectivity is the name of the game.   A relationship with your online self, and the personas of the people around you.  Yes, you may have met a large number of them in real life first, but their digital profile is the person you ‘know’.  If it’s not on social media, it may as well have not happened in the first place.  You ‘connect’ with others around you, reading their updates, consuming their stories.  Do we have control over the medium, because we choose who we follow, or do we lose control as we try to sort through the constant stream of information?  Is there a way to conquer the digital overload or will we drown in the data stream flowing our way?

Suddenly you get a push notification that stops your blood cold.  You have 10% battery left.  You ask around and hope that someone can offer up a device which charges your phone, because if they can’t, you may not survive the day.  It is the moment you realise no one has a charger available that you regret not purchasing the LG G5 so you could just switch out the battery with a fresh one – heck, you’d even try to charge with fruit at this stage.

You rush home, cutting your interaction short, as the fear of losing connection to the world haunts your brain.  Peace only comes when the cable connects: power to the battery, the little icon flashes and lightning appears – your phone is on it’s way to a full recovery.  It was close, but it didn’t faint this time.

As the sun sets, we find ourselves under the covers once more.  The sky is aflame, as colours glow. Yellows fade to orange, pinks to purples, blue to black; but our focus is not on the wonders of the sinking sky, but rather on the pixelated haze as we fall into the pattern once again.

12 thoughts on “A Pixelated Haze: always on connectivity

  1. Whaaaat!!!! I was super confused after watching the lecture but after watching your video it makes so much sense. The way you portray a typical person living in today’s society is so accurate that it is actually scary to see what we are like. I can’t even think if anything that you could improve on… you got some awesome skills 🙂

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  2. great great post! made it so much easier to understand the weekly topic. Keep it up! one thing to improve on is the length. I think it was a bit to long and just dragged on a little at times. Nonetheless, great post.

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  3. Love the high drama representation you’ve gone with here, it has a nice effect of pointing out some of the issues with constant connectivity while not taking itself too seriously and poking some fun at view points that do.

    Not sure if I really have answers to your questions so much as counter-questions, but you did get me wondering. Given the freedom online the create ourselves exactly as we want to be, does this give us more agency and control online than we have in the analogue embodied world?

    I love this idea you’ve touched on of the sacrificed 9-5, I actually made a blog post for DIGC202 which received some really interesting comments from someone that were relevant to this. They specifically study the work/life divide and the way new technology and constant connectivity is blurring it. Here’s a snippet from that: “changes that technology has had in things like the work/life balance where the line between ‘work’ and ‘home’ (or at least ‘not work’) is getting really blurry with things like emails on people’s phones and the expectation of being contactable all the time. And by and large this has just been accepted by a lot of people as ‘the way business is done now’.”

    So in constant connectivity and constant accessibility, are we losing our free time to those who are clever enough to take advantage of it and say “sure you can do your job from home online, but you have to work all the time”, especially in new media specific fields like social media management, or even just people who know that connectivity can make it feel like you need to extend your work hours through things like last minute emails.

    Alright, I’m rambling, I’ll stop now, but very interesting stuff.

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    1. “Given the freedom online the create ourselves exactly as we want to be, does this give us more agency and control online than we have in the analogue embodied world?”
      In a sense, I can see where you are coming from, but is it control over ‘who we really are’ or rather control over ‘who we want to be’. Surely if it’s the first option, then our digital presence should match up to our real world presence, because our identities would be consistent, irrespective of the medium. If it’s to demonstrate control over who we want to be, then my question is this: would you recognise someone and their links to their digital presence through their personality, the way they present themselves in real life, and a clear aspiration to match up to what their digital presence already is? If so, does that mean that our digital presence is more authentic to who we are than our real life presence? Sorry to counteract your further questions with even more, but I find it to be a valid line of thought.

      Would love to read your original post for DIGC202 because I very much agree that there’s a fine line between keeping connected for the sake of sharing information with your friends, and keeping connected because you are online and why not check your emails at the same time?
      Specifically in freelance work, this is a very fine line to pedal and I know that it is something I have struggled with myself, as well as a number of other friends. Where do you draw the line? Does it count as overtime? Is it really work if you are enjoying it? These things blur the idea of the 9-5 contact hours even more because the reality is we ARE online 24/7, and sometimes your work doesn’t demand constant attention in the 9-5 timeline: Social Media Managing for example, can involve a day of queuing relevant posts to the brand, and then adding extra ones in which are event specific, catering to events as they unfold throughout the world.
      Whether or not we are losing our free time is another thing. Our ‘free time’ is ours to do what we wish. I raised earlier the idea of enjoying the work, and whether working outside the 9-5 constraints would be considered as a stepping over of the work/free time lines, because if we really are enjoying it, why would we not want to continue pursuing it? Surely if our free time is ours to do with what we wish, pursuing something interesting to ourselves is a valid option; whether work related or not.

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  4. The representation of constant connectivity as a negative thing is fairly tired, but your video seems to lampshade that by presenting it as more of a crutch than “missing out on real life.” It was also very poetic, which was a delight to hear. Opening up a dialogue about control was very important as a reflection on the video; together, they’re more than the sum of their parts.

    As far as an online brand presence goes, I think it’s important to consider an individual’s online presence as a sort of brand as well. We name ourselves using handles, and cultivate an image and content that reflect what we want people to see us as. As far as the traditional 9 to 5 workday goes, when it comes to cultivating an online brand, that goes right out the window. Part of staying active and connected with an audience, especially on platforms like Twitter, is an “instant feed” – a commentary on things that are happening as they happen. 9 to 5 doesn’t allow that sort of direct communication. It gets even more complicated if you factor in a global audience, and what times you’ll be able to catch the bulk of their activity.

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    1. Poetry is fab ayy~
      I really like your extension of online branding bleeding into personal online presence, because it is a reality in todays world. My sister has a better personal online presence and she’s only 16, because she’s grown up with this socially networked, digitally connected age to the point where curating her own online presence is second nature to her.
      I agree that the traditional 9-5 style work day is on the way out, especially in terms of online/digital cultivation, however is the best way to combat this destruction of the traditional structures to implement multiple workers on the same job in a sense? Have a rotation of staff covering the digital presence in order to accommodate for a 24/7 online cycle? Factoring in a global audience could involve choosing the workers to split the work load across, from different parts of the world.

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  5. I know it was just a small part of the video, but the part about only knowing people through their online profiles, to the point where that version of them replaces the real person, got my brain going. What does that mean for us when we sit down to create these online profiles? When you really think about it, we’re straining our identities through the format of a website. So… that means technology and social media giants pretty much own and control our own representations of ourselves, and the way other people see us. That’s what I find really scary.

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    1. Could it perhaps also mean though that we are ourselves cyborgs as the technology we use is an extension of ourselves, so much so that it becomes an integral part of ourselves? Yes we strain our identities to suit the format of the websites we utilise, but we don’t necessarily stick to one single website. Each different form of media offers a different set of characteristics to portray our identity by, and only when putting these together can we create a full picture of ones digital presence – making us a digital frankenstein of scattered information we associate ourselves to across the web. Does utilising these large media corporations to display our presence mean that they have some influence over our representations? Perhaps it does, but the only control they have is the format you can mould your presence into, and that is something we agree to upon signing up and offering our presence. Instagram, for example, controls us by only allowing pictures, however an image of text is perfectly acceptable too. Ownership of our identities however is a tricky thing. Yes they own the platform we post to, and yes they technically own the page we call our profile, however the content we submit is surely still our own – it is an extension of our thoughts, an display of our images, and copyright should still entitle us as the owners of that data, whether hosted on their platform or not. The problem arises when you look at the terms and conditions about what these corporations are legally allows to do with the content, particularly videos/pictures: They are legally allowed to utilise your content as advertising or grant permission to others to use that content, without notification to you or compensation. (http://www.nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/who-owns-photos-and-videos-posted-on-facebook-or-twitter/). When you start to look into that, the internet becomes a very scary world.

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  6. Your video made me think really deeply about our internet presence, as I am one of the kinds of people who does wake up at 4 AM for a toilet run and ends up on facebook for 40 mins catching up on the things I missed.. It’s like the availability and easy accessibility of modern technology is giving everyone the same thing; the fear of missing out. Great video too! It looked really smoothly done and professional!

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