Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

The (Apparent) Rise of Thai-Fi

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When I travelled to Thailand earlier in the year for a friend’s wedding a few things were different as opposed to the last time I visited the country. My overseas travel since 2009 meant that thankfully I was no longer paranoid about being mugged ever ten minutes. The cultural landscape of Patong Beach had changed, and there were a surprisingly large proportion of Russian tourists that I don’t recall being there three years prior. Though without question the biggest change I noticed about Thailand during this trip was the prevalence of wireless internet, a service that had been all but absent during my last trip over.

At the time I thought nothing of it, and was very thankfully that I could check my email and social media platforms from almost any hotel, bar or tourist establishment, often for free. The service came particularly handy for keeping in contact with family and friends back home during the tsunami warning that we experienced. It was only when I returned to Aussie soil that I took a moment to look into wireless internet access in Thailand, and came to some interesting conclusions.

Far from being the always-connected online country that tourists would imagine, Thailand’s internet infrastructure is quite lacking. While it was the third country in South East Asia to go online in 1996 and has the largest number of ISPs in the region (Wiki, 2012), internet penetration is currently only between 25-30% of the total population (SMU, 2012; IWS, 2010). Usage is highly skewed to those under 25, with social media sites such as Facebook and hi5 receiving the majority of travel (SMU, 2012).

In considering methods of access this disjuncture between actual local access and tourist infrastructure widens. Of the third of Thais that are online, only 35% use laptops and 7% smart phones, suggesting low levels of wireless connectivity. While broadband access is readily available in major centres, outlying regions are characterised by low penetration and infrequent usage, with a reliance on dial-up connections (SMU, 2012; Wiki, 2012). So little is the internet infrastructure and usage of the country that the Singapore Management University has noted that “The Internet is not yet a primary resource for many in Thailand” (SMU, 2012).

Considering there is such low levels of access for locals then, the question should be asked as to why areas such as Patong Beach have such well developed wi-fi coverage?

The obvious answer is tourist demand; our growing addition to ‘always on’ social media and connectivity appears to have reached the point where tourist operators in Thailand have acknowledged that despite low local levels of usage, visitors to the area display a distinct need for this service.

Maybe just another reason to leave your BlackBerry at home next time you travel.

References:

Written by Jay Reid

August 3, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Gender & Communications and ERC Review – ANZCA 2011 (Part 7)

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On the final day of ANZCA 2011 saw my eyes being opened to a whole new field of study, only for me later to question if I had what it takes to succeed in this profession. I elected to branch out and listen in on a topic to which I had previously given very little focus: gender communications. While not an avenue of study I could ever see myself partaking in, the session did open my eyes to the sheer breadth of academic result being partaken in the media and communications field.

Session 7 – Gender & Communications

The session’s first speaker was Kath Albury (UNSW) who looked at the ways in which ideas of masculinity in terms of risk and safety management within the workplace. Aaron Sachs (St Mary’s College of California) then spoke about topics of gender within hip-hop music, examining within this presentation a music video from New Zealand rapper Scribe. Finally, Carolyn Skelton (The University of Auckland) looked at the lesbian web-series Venice, detailing how it works as a form of multiplatform entertainment and drawing attention to the activities of its fan base and its strong focus on visual photographic imagery.

Plenary Session:

The conference’s final plenary session looked at the ‘Excellence in Research for Australia’ (ERA) report that was released by the ARC in 2011. Chaired by Associate Professor Kerry McCallum (University of Canberra) the panel discussed the advantage and disadvantages of the system compared to similar schemes in operation in New Zealand and the UK, and gave some interesting facts:

  • The Go8 universities still account for 80% of the research output produced by Australian academics
  • Leading researchers consistently produce 1-3 papers each year
  • 80% of PhD thesis’s are not published, and of those that are, 65% only generate one article
  • Most ‘academics’ only write 1 article in their entire career
  • As far as impact ratings go, journal articles have a half-life of 5-7 years
  • Articles that are deemed ‘wrong or incorrect’ are actually referenced and cited more than those that contribute positively to the body of knowledge
  • On average, only 3 people read each published journal article

After this enlightening – if somewhat sobering session – the conference broke for another yet following a tradition Maori Poroporoaki ceremony, set to next meet in Adelaide in 2012.

A big thanks to the Discipline of Media and School of Humanities at The University of Adelaide for their support and funding which made attending this conference possible.

Written by Jay Reid

July 12, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Freedom of Information in the Digital Age

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A look at freedom of information and disclousure in the age of social media from part two of my coverage of the 2011 Freedom(s), Citizens and the Politics of the Internet Symposium, hosted by the University of Adelaide and AIIA. after reconvening from lunch those in attendance at the 2011 FCPI Symposium were treated to talks by three prominent South Australian law professionals, administrators and educators – Richard Bingham (SA Ombudsman), Ralph Bonig (SA Law President) and Associate Professror Melissa de Zwart (Adelaide law School) who spoke broadly on the topic of government information and disclosure in the age of social media in the symposium’s first panel, chaired by Doctor Sal Humphreys (University of Adelaide).

Read the full article here.

Written by Jay Reid

May 9, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Professor Patrick Sookhdeo – Surveillance, Privacy, Collaboration and Civility

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The first of a series of articles covering last year’s Freedom(s), Citizens and the Politics of the Internet Symposium, hosted in Adelaide by the University of Adelaide (Disciplines of Media and Disciplines of Politics) and the Australian Institute of International Affairs (SA Branch).

The 2011 FCPI symposium began with a keynote address by Professor Patrick Sookhdeo, a Senior Visiting Research Fellow and counter-terrorism expert from the UK Defence Academy for Cranfield University, speaking on surveillance, privacy, collaboration and civility in the modern age. In a broad sweeping talk he discussed various issues related to terrorism in the era of social media and social networking, with a strong focus on the United Kingdom.

Read the full article here.

Written by Jay Reid

May 3, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Why Pinterest has spiked my interest

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Sick and tired of the same old bragging and identity performance that has completely infected social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook? Keen to share with the world your love of sailing, staying healthy, or interesting doors? If so, Pinterest may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Despite being one of the new kids on the block, Pinterest has been able to develop a unique take on what social networking site is, and is positioning itself as one to watch in the future. In the two years since its founding the site has experienced phenomenal popularity, having risen into the top 10 most visited website in the world (Smith, 2012) and earning the title of fastest growing social media website in history (Waugh, 2012). The site’s clean and minimalist design is said to have contributed to this success, which has seen site traffic grow 866% in the six months to February 2012 (Buck, 2012). So far Pinterest looks to be ticking all the right boxes during its rise to prominence.

Despite being the focus of recent copyright concerns, (NPR, 2012; Poletti, 2012; Waugh, 2012) in which some have deleted their accounts (Kowalski, 2012) with the site has been labelled ‘Napster for Housewives’ (Kosner, 2012), Pinterest continues to experience huge growth and popularity. It’s even been labelled the new LinkedIn (Casserly, 2012) and Facebook (Hempel, 2012), firming establishing the site as one to watch.

Users on the site create virtual ‘pinboards’ to which they are free to add and organise content. While images are king, videos are starting to grow in popularity. By ‘pinning’ content from external sites onto Pinterest or ‘repinning’ content that has already been added by existing users, Pinterest devotees are able to gather and arrange images about literally anything. Collections of DIY projects and recipes, film and literature recommendation, ideas for weddings or the latest fashions are all popular topics.

There has been calls that the site is too ‘girly’; understandable when the average user is female (80%, up from 68%) and a number of male alternatives have been launched including ‘Dart It Up’ (Kosner, 2012; Meredith, 2012). Having said that, let us take a moment to consider one of the most highly publicised users of Pinterest in recent times: the United States Army.

HOOAH!

Along with the US Navy, Air Force and Marines, the US Army maintains an active Pinterest account (Bishop, 2012; Fitzpatrick, 2012; Greenfield, 2012) and have gone so far as to publish their own guidelines of its use of the site (Love, 2012). Surely this is a sign that those who possess the Y-chromosome have a place on Pinterest.

Example of a Pinterest pin board.

My reasons for liking Pinterest are simple. Not only is the site clean and easy to use, but it’s also a new take on the ideas of what social media is. Users of sites such as Facebook and Twitter have reported suffering from ‘social media fatigue’ (Buck, 2012) wherein they are repeatedly exposed to the same content again and again. Facebook and Twitter have become little more than personal branding pages for identity performance – ‘Look at me, I’m doing this’, ‘Look at me, I’m doing that’.

This is where Pinterest is different. At the end of the day, Pinterest is about what you want, not what you have. Users of Pinterest hoard and present photos because they love nautical themed home decorating, to show their pride in their hometown or simply because they love the look of interesting bookshelves. As with all social media it’s still an identity performance, but a positive one of self expression, not a thinly veiled attempt to gain social capital.

Pinners share what they love; they don’t share to be loved.

References:

Written by Jay Reid

March 30, 2012 at 8:39 AM

2011 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Written by Jay Reid

March 5, 2012 at 2:19 PM

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The Six Days of Social Media Christmas

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Social media and the internet have all but encroached on every aspect of our daily lives, so it’s not surprising to see them making an impact on Christmas. Here’s a quick look at six ways in which social media can change the way you’ll celebrate holidays this year…

On the first day of social media Christmas the internet gave to me: trouble at the work party

As the silly season approaches so too does the staff Christmas celebrations, notorious for being home to inappropriate alcohol-fuelled activities. Nowadays, thanks to modern technology, such slips up can now be caught on film and shared with the world in a matter of seconds, damaging not only your job security but the reputation of your company. Advice from the experts: stay away from over consumption, office hook-ups, inappropriate attire, and remember that it’s still an official business event (Hollard, 2011, Hosking, 2011).

 

On the second day of social media Christmas the internet gave to me: shopping fuelled by online platforms

According to research coming out of the US, 66% of Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases were a result of social media promotion or interaction, with 80% of those who had online contact with a brand going to on make a purchase if their query was replied to (Wasserman, 2011). In a world where people are increasingly leaving their festive shopping to the last moment, an online drive though social media at the eleventh hour can be seen to pay dividends.

 

On the third day of social media Christmas the internet gave to me: increased threat of home robbery

I didn’t say all of these would be positive. The Insurance Council of Australia recently issued a warning about thieves putting together your movements over the holiday period from social media posts (Advertiser, 2011a: 5); if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time take a moment to think exactly who you’re broadcasting your absence too, especially if you’re a fiend for check-ins which can give away your home address.

 

On the fourth day of social media Christmas the internet gave to me: quirky holiday traditions

Thanks to online platforms we can now chose to celebrate all manner of bizarre traditions over the Christmas period. My favourite is easily Festivus, inspired by Seinfeld, which was trending for most of the day on December 23rd, the day it is normally observed (Kurczy, 2010). This fictious holiday has a cult-following online, on Facebook and Twitter. Break out your aluminium pole and marvel at its high strength-to-weight ratio!

 

On the fifth day of social media Christmas the internet gave to me: holiday themed viral advertising

Some people hang out all year to watch the Superbowl half-time ads. Why should Christmas be any different? For me the standout this years is the ’12 Days of Christmas’ campaign for Bonds run by advertising agency Banjo and featuring reimagined scenes of the titular song with assorted Bond products and brand ambassador Rachel Taylor (Macleod, 2001; mUmBRELLA, 2011a). Other notable mentions to the Old Spice ‘MANta Clause’ and latest SodaStream campaigns (Mamamia, 2011; mUmBRELLA, 2011b)

 

On the six day of social media Christmas the internet gave to me: a new priority Christmas day

Research now shows that half of Gen Y will check their mobile phone or Facebook in the morning of Christmas day before looking under the tree. (Advertiser, 2011b: 8). I couldn’t even make that up.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

References:

Written by Jay Reid

December 22, 2011 at 2:20 PM

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