Uncovering China’s agenda for Ping-Pong

Table Tennis is not for the faint-hearted, it is a sport of endurance, stamina and utter focus.

Sports presents itself in all forms and sizes, as an individual of the Western World I was not always aware of the extent of ping-pong. In Australia, I associate ping-pong with the legendary game of Beer Pong and a casual muck around with friends. In China, Table Tennis is the countries biggest sport. China is ranked number 1 in the world and holds the three top seats in the Men’s and Women’s leagues. Of China’s population, it is estimated that there are around 10 million citizens who regularly play the game. During the 2008 Bejing Olympic Games, a solid 300 million people of China tuned in to watch the mega show-down between China’s Table Tennis athletes Ma Lin vs. Wang Hao.

Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno). As part of autoethnography, researchers are challenged to participate in their own self-evaluation, this stems from the concept of epiphanies. Epiphanies are remembered moments percieved to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life. Epiphanies require a level of self-awareness, they reveal the ways and ‘whys’ a person reacts to particular circumstances or situations.

My first step of investigation for my digital artifact was to sit down and watch a clip of the best rallies in table tennis history. My mind was blown by the skill and endurance these athletes have. My next aim was to sit and attempt to watch a full game to get the feel. My past is grounded in tennis, as a former Australian athlete I thought to myself, it really is in essence tennis but on a way smaller level. So I sat down and had a go, after 30 minutes past it was safe to say I was bored. Some people say its because Youtube provided me with an old and ordinary game, but I also think it’s because I had no clue what was going on…..

I researched the rules and training behind the sport and spread my wings to watch a variety of different games at various levels and tutorials. What I found interesting was that undoubtedly each tournament was filled with spectators; views on YouTube videos were consistently more than 400,000+. Interestingly an epiphany popped into my mind, “what makes sport so culturally valuable in society?” “Why do certain countries choose to invest in particular sports?” To narrow down my scope, I researched the history behind the emergence of table tennis in China, why it is a cultural value and to further my own understanding of the game in order to try and value it the same as the Chinese people do.

To validate my epiphanies against Ellis theory of autoethnography – Ethnography is, the study of a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders and outsiders better understand culture.

As previously stated in my other blog post, China was first introduced to Table Tennis by its former leader Mao Zedong. The sport swiftly became a cultural value of the country, the sport was ‘bizarrely‘ popular amongst the Communist Party of China’s military force during the 1930s. Not long after do we see China using Ping-Pong as a source of diplomacy, this is through the games introduction to the Olympic Games and also communication with other countries.

I found that a brief look into the its history in China and the values that extend past the social norm of sport generate yet another element for my digital artefact. In order to fulfil the criteria of autoethnography, my aim will be to reveal the history of ping-pong in China and explore its globalisation and diplomacy. It will not only allow me to understand the value the country holds for the sport, but also allow me to uncover the hidden agenda government’s hold for sport.

The Tweeting Experience

Technology has improved and widened our abilities to communicate, interact and learn.

Sally Stearns says that “live tweeting is a craft that takes focus and creativity, and when done well provides a great social power”. This semester it proved to challenge our abilities to analyse and review a film in real time, while post appropriate comments, links and content in relation to what was going on and reflect on key themes that were spoken about in the weekly lectures.

Twitter is not my platform of preference, however this weekly task pushed me to step out of my boundaries for the better (well you can judge). My interactions with others was most prominent through ‘liking’ and ‘retweeting’, I rarely commented because I was simply too shy despite hiding behind my computer….

https://giphy.com/gifs/redneckisland-cmt-redneck-island-l2R0c88udofxmmPss

Credit: Giphy

Ghost in a Shell.

First week viewing was of Ghost in a Shell – anime style. The film itself explores the roles of computer networks in our social, cultural and contemporary lifestyle. Our seminar focused on self-identity and the influence of technology. My aim was to broaden my understanding of the film and its meanings along with the themes of cyborgs, cybernetics and cyberfeminism.

I was fascinated by the concept of the cyborg, how in the near future we will ultimately have the opportunity to transform ourselves with robotic and digital alternatives. I was intrigued by this quote:Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 7.26.33 PM

Now in the 21stcentury, we are so infatuated with technology and bettering ourselves that I began to consider who is the higher power manipulating us to think this way? In following posts my aim was to post links to Reddit chartrooms, and alternative texts that not only helped me but also could help others begin a discussion.

My interaction with fellow students was extremely limited, (stage fright). But one tweet that caught my attention in particular was

https://twitter.com/CL_Moore/status/969054762141327360

I thought that this really reflected self-identity at the cusp of the digital age, are we still human if we become cyborgs, rather than retaining memory in the brain we are ‘exporting’ memory do we still have the qualities of the human?

West World.

Excitement is an understatement.

This week was based on who has the authority between man and computer, who is the gatekeeper and ultimately ‘who is real’. West World has always left me in two minds, who is conscious and who is not.

This week my twitter presence was more, its difficult to distinguish who is a robot and who is human. One character that challenged this theory was android Maeve, who “grabs a technician’s tablet showing her personality dashboard and upgrades herself to genius. Can robots dream?!” My following tweets follow this and I post a variety of articles, which challenge the idea of inhumanity, robot or human and challenge the distinction of consciousness again.

@CL_Mooretweeted:

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 1.56.12 PM.png

It made me think, will we succumb to this preconceived idea of ‘utopia ’ or are we going to be left with the excuse, death by technology. I thought it seemed like the ultimate gatekeeper was the program rather than the technicians behind the robot.

Johnny Mnemonic.

This week we saw two worlds cross, the realm of high tech and the underground world of modern pop. The term cyberpunk comes from the realm where the computer hacker and the rocker overlap, Johnny Mnemonic proved to fit this term quite perfectly showing us how two worlds collide, and the futuristic dependence on technology and data storage proved to provoke the thought of how memory and information are going to be stored in the future.

An article written by Wired caught my interest in particular, breaking down technology and how much we have learned in one sit in. I particularly liked the connection drawn between mnemonics mind eroding as a result of the overload of information, and the effect the internet has on us now “the internet that we actually have, is pretty much effortless from a physical standpoint but tends to erode you mentally over time with YouTube comments and drawings of My Little Pony characters”.

https://twitter.com/angster1/status/974128866389147650

Another concept I found interesting in the film was the notion of time; Angus Rigby-Wild for instance raises a good point. How would we function and evolve if we did not rely on the concept of time? Despite the evolution of technology, as human beings time is a dependent for us we are unable to function without the guidance of time.

The Matrix.

Continuing on from last week, Cyberculture and cyberpunk represents the mind-machine interface – the ability to plug into the brain. “Cyberculture is the experience emerging from the dominant role of computer networks in communication”. Having previously watched the Matrix I had a better understanding of the film. My objective for this weeks tweets were to show the hidden meanings of certain characters and how the reveal and link back to the overarching themes of cyberculture and cyberpunk.

https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/976646819030622208

https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/976648621851525120

This week my interaction with peers gained momentum and I retweeted. Some thoughts resonating with me in particular were:https://twitter.com/PG_Adrian95/status/976654132298661888

 

https://twitter.com/neil_fam/status/976656599681921024

I thought both of these were great points, it is a common feature across movies involving cyberpunks that we see the fight against rebellion. It made me question are they fighting the higher power or the presence of technology? Another point was the change in scenes, colours were used according to the shifts of worlds and action. It created the idea that the substitution of nature for technology will wash our human like qualities and cause us all to be generic, thus using the colour coating.

Black Mirror S02E01

This weeks viewing challenged my morals a bit. ‘Be right back’ was based on the idea that technology was able to recreate and essentially bring back to life someone who has passed away. I was strongly against this as you can see below:

https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/979195679884034048

https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/979198925188956160

https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/979200499151859712

However, what I did find interesting was a post from @kristyyrenae

https://twitter.com/kristyyrenae/status/979192071738150914

Robot and Frank

Sentimentality is a human quality and one I personally think is vital in the creation of human emotion and empathy. Robot and Frank depicts a relationship between a robot and a human. It highlighted the ethical implications behind robots and also touched on the treatment of the elderly, I posted a variety of links to articles surrounding these topics to broaden my understanding and others.

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https://twitter.com/EzzyApples/status/981747809136160768

I think this question @EzzyApples  raises a good point. Growing up in a society were everything has become digitised, will we become inclined to trust robots to care for us. Or will our understanding of the implications of such technology and its potential failures urge us to resort back to the ‘old fashioned’ way? This places an emphasis on cyborgs, will we still be conscious enough and aware of our emotions to make such decisions?

Black Mirror S03E06

Black mirror brings to life fear of a technological takeover. This episode is a prime example to show the potential cybernetic takeover. Not only are our boundaries to controlling humans expanding, but the ability to recreate and control animals and insects is prominent in this episode.

For this week, my tweets were more commentary like. I began with an article breaking down the concepts in this episode, however, ended up being too intrigued in the episode to continue my analysis. https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/984275016245129216

 

https://twitter.com/miaiorfino18/status/984277645843087360

https://twitter.com/kristyyrenae/status/984288992798523392

Engaging in conversation and liking tweets was a great compliment to this viewing. Its interesting to analyse and interact with those who have differing or similar opinions and widening the views on this particular episode. We can see that censorship is non-existent and this is evident through #DeathTo. We are already living in a world where big brother is watching, but this sense of surveillance needs to continue to expand if we are expecting robotic killer bees to be our future.

 

There is more than meets the eye.

It’s the little-malnourished girl that stares at you, it’s the little boy washed up on the shore. And it’s the mother and father holding their dying baby.

This is what we are confronted with when charities and media want to expose and prompt audiences, of the poverty around the globe.

The following images can be identified through the term ‘poverty porn‘. Poverty porn is “known as development porn or even famine porn, is any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause.” It is a strategy that causes us to think “What can I do to help”? We are left feeling conflicted whether to post and share these devastating image with the world or to donate “hey any amount will help”. However, it is a term used to exploit poverty.

It is these organisations that expose the worst of poverty, they highlight the misery and suffering. Promoting the ‘if’ and ‘when’, what happens if you do donate and what happens if you do not. Poverty porn maintains this idea that, third world countries are filled with misery and suffering.

However in the video above, it shows that some of these kids who live in the worst possible conditions are happy, they create positive outcomes for themselves. It is videos like these that expose an alternative perspective on poverty, while poverty is faced with suffering and heartache. There are slums throughout the world that aim to change their way of lives, they want their minority to progress.

In this TEDx talk, Erica Hangan is the co-founder of ‘Map Kibera’, an organisation that aims to empower these communities and put them on the map through open data, open mapping, citizen media and participatory processes. In the following video, Erica expresses how so many slums in huge cities are not identified on their maps, their aim using locals is to put the slum of Kibera on the map. And through this exploration, it is astounding to see a number of facilities that are crammed into this small place, and the economy these people have built for themselves.

 

In 2015 twitter users coined the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShows, it was platform young African’s were able to use to fightback against their ‘poverty stricken identity’. Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.51.50 PM.pngPhotos were posted using the hashtag of the beautiful landscapes, jobs, universities etc. attracting over 42,000 tweets. Each and every tweet was a pushed to break the African stereotype, another twitter user posted a photo collage of four photos. Each different from the other to emphasise that not all of Africa is the same, making the following statement “Africa is not a country, Africa is a continent made up of 56 countries. Africans do not all look alike. Africa is not defined by poverty. I don’t speak “African” because African is not a
language
“.

The objectification and exploitation of poverty through media is under scrutiny and empowers the wrong people. Such stereotypes portray societies in a negative way where these reputations can hold. An example of this is SBS documentary ‘Struggle Street‘, a  documentary depicting stereotypes of lower socio-economic suffering. 5dc837b8-36d5-4ccb-a23f-6c523a1e1ec9.jpeg

The series was designed to show the struggles and suffering of poverty in the western area of Mt Druitt, aiming to expose the ‘raw reality’ of a south-west suburb. SBS’s Marshall Heald said that “Struggle Street will seek to raise awareness and deepen our understanding of those of us in the community facing social and economic hardship through an honest reflection of what it’s like to be doing it tough in Australia today.” However the show enhanced the negative stereotype Mt Druitt had received, Threadgold argues that the show is “denigrating The undeserving poor, scapegoating and even pathologising them as figures of loathing, while completely ignoring the harsh structural economic realities that create such poverty in the first place.

Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali was “appalled” after seeing the first episode. “What I saw wasn’t a documentary, it was simply publicly-funded poverty porn“, after meeting with SBS management he expressed “With all the funding cuts in the local area with domestic violence and … the whole heap of great education facilities that are losing funding, to spend $1 million on this crap, it shouldn’t happen”.

This stereotype, we’re over it, and it shouldn’t happen and SBS has just taken the worst aspects of it and put it into a so-called documentary“.

Poverty porn exploits degrades and stereotypes a minority based on how the media gather their understanding and frame their portrayal of a minority. Who are we trying to empower, us or them?

Sources:

 

Without a selfie did it even happen?

First and foremost I am a self-proclaimed selfie taker, but hey when your outfit is on fleek who can resist? When I explained this weeks topic to both my friends and family I received an identical response, “Mim this is right down your alley”. Thanks, guysScreen Shot 2017-03-12 at 7.04.45 PM.png

The selfie is defined as being “a photographic object that initiates the transmission of human feeling in the form of a relationship (between photographer and photographed) … [It] is also a practice -a gesture that can send … (different messages to different individuals)“. It is predicted the average millennials 25,700 selfies in their lifetime, and it is predicted that on average 93 million selfies are taken each day worldwide. WOW.

The way selfies have been taken has changed dramatically over time. First beginning with self-painted portraits such as the famous Vincent Van Gogh, to now with the revolutionary smartphone.

As mobile technology has rapidly advanced, the action and quality of selfies have gotten easier and clearer. Renown Vampire Diaries queen Nina Dobrev demonstrates how the task of taking selfies has evolved, as new editions of phones have been introduced into society.

 

While technology has largely influenced the action of taking a selfie. The personal reasoning is another variable factor, often we take selfies to express or empower, show followers various aspects or experiences of life and lastly publicity. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are the prime selfie domain, currently, there are 292,485,07 postsscientists-have-announced-a-new-unit-to-accurately-measure-narcissism-the-selfie-per-hour.jpg on Instagram using the #selfie. How can you even prove that you went to the gym without
a ‘gelfie’ (gym selfie)?

Selfies have become a social epidemic.

Selfies are a way to connect yourself to your followers, they are intimate and can often highlight personal moral, values and emotion this can be described as experiencing “togetherness“, and the social and cultural context of the person. Lasen argues “that social media platforms are stages where users negotiate intimacy in public through self- disclosure “in a choreographic way”, where comments are useful to check other people’s reactions and affections“. Some can argue that the constant posting of selfies highlight narcissistic tendencies, and constant selfie takers are considered to be narcissists.

Another negative that arises from selfie taking, is the moral panic. Initially, moral panic stems from the mass media and has gradually been dived amongst the various platforms of social media. It is the idea that our followers cast a ‘make or break’ judgement on the selfies we post, the questions they may raise and what they perceive from our posts. The term ‘Selfiegate’ was coined by Bayum and Miltner, “it raised questions about “who takes selfies and under what circumstances“, an example would be Selfie Trend Put Into Perspective. Katrin Tiidenberg narrows down moral panic in two reasons:

However this is not always the case, selfies can be used and considered to be platforms for expression and empowerment. Various celebrities, minorities and everyday people have adopted this to create social media accounts that aim to help and inspire their followers.

In an interview with the ABC Australian model Steph Smith, explains that since gaining a

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.10.43 AM.pngfollowing on Instagram, followers are wanting to know more about her efforts in the area of health and wellbeing. Steph’s health and wellbeing blog is designed to promote a healthy way of living and highlights that this such lifestyle is not only lived by the ‘rich and famous’, Steph promotes various products and companies that she believes can have a profound impact in benefitting your overall wellbeing.

Selfies and their meaning and interpretation will forever be a topic of discussion. The act of taking a selfie, based on frequency and individual personality is once again narrowed down to both scientific findings and personal opinion. It is evident that there are many negatives regarding the concept of selfie taking, but there are many positives that have allowed individual create careers, inspire and given a path to expression and empowerment.

But hey, you do you!

Sources:

  • Senft, Theresa, and Nancy Baym. “Selfies Introduction ~ What Does The Selfie Say? Investigating A Global Phenomenon”. Ijoc.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
  • Miguel, Cristina. “Visual Intimacy On Social Media: From Selfies To The Co-Construction Of Intimacies Through Shared Pictures”. Social Media + Society 2.2 (2016): 205630511664170. Web.
  • Bonn, Scott. “Moral Panic: Who Benefits From Public Fear?”. Psychology Today. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.
  • Hines, Nickolaus. “You Won’t Believe How Many People Have Died Taking Selfies Since 2014”. All That Is Interesting. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.
  • “Katrin Tiidenberg: Selfies – Narcissism Or A Way Of Self Expression? / Tallinn University”. Tlu.ee. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
  • Cowan, Jane. “Millennials Of Melbourne: Steph Smith On Insta-Fame And Buying A House At 23”. ABC News. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.

 

The Final Whistle

“Attention involves the allocation of cognitive resources to deal with multiple inputs at once. Switching, screening, analysing and risk management are all part of normal cognitive processes” (Maloney, 2016). 

Space, place, audience and media are four components that individually affect your viewing experience. Adopting the participant ethnography research method, it allowed me to examine how these component effect others and also myself. This has been proven through my observations while watching the Premier League at a friends house, in my bedroom and at The Star.

Approaching the assessment, my preconceived ideas were that audiences and media would have the greatest impact while viewing the game. However, space and place played a large role in the way each individual enjoyed and focused on the game.

My bedroom

  • My attention span was low and media activity was high and constant.
  • Being alone I was not able to share the excitement of Arsenal scoring with anyone else
  • Watching the game in the comfort of my bed caused me to relax and fall asleep throughout the game unintentionally

My boyfriend’s house

  • Being surrounded by friends made the game enjoyable
  • Media use was average, as during halftime and pauses in the game we would all log onto social media and communicate with others regarding the game
  • ‘Soccer watching etiquette’ allowed each viewer to have a comfortable view of the game and all were mediated by these un-proclaimed rules

The Star – 24/7 Sports bar

  • Attention spans carried as a result of external components and surroundings e.g. alcohol and the crowds of people walking around the casino
  • Atmosphere enhanced the viewing experience, being surrounded by hundreds of strangers who share the same passion for the sport as you creates a welcoming community bond
  • As a result of the interactions with those around us, our media use was roughly 15% of the night
  • However, as a result of a ‘drunk’ spectator, it affected our viewing as a result of insults being taken a bit too far

It is evident how viewing the Premier League in three diverse settings can alter the enjoyment and engagement of the viewer. Furthermore, from partaking in this assessment it has allowed me to identify a range of avenues for exploration for future research. Examples of these would be:

  • How alcohol affects sports fans
  • How the Premier League can incorporate these online sports communities into their halftime commentary and interact with there fan baseArsenal-16-17-kit (1).jpg

Only to name a few. I think observing and researching these areas and sports fan habits are valuable for Premier League stakeholders, it will allow them to identify areas that fans around the world suggest to improve. Potentially changing and revamping the viewing experience all around the world, lessening the need or desire to be at Emirates rather enjoying the game from the comfort of the local pub or home couch.

While the project has come to an end, it definitely has taught me where and who to watch the games with.

Till next time, Up The Gunners!

References:

  • Maloney, S. (2016). Attention, Presence, Place.

Arsenal vs. Middlebrough

Sitting in second in the Premier League and the stakes were high for Arsenal to continue on with their winning streak.

Week 9, Arsenal set to verse Middlesbrough. After weeks of rest Cech, Monreal and Iwobi 1477066623-7859.jpgfinally returned, however, it turned out to be a game that the team wasn’t expecting. Arsenal’s winning streak came to an end after a 95-minute game, they drew 0-0 to Middlesbrough.  Cech‘s skills were challenged as Middlesbrough kept coming, however he held strong as Negredo kept coming and Ramirez free kick to the cross bar presented itself as a surprise. However, Arsenal fought back with Ozil crossing the ball to Chamberlain to take the kick, only to face the waving flags as the German was offside.sports-bar-fuel-247-drinks-alcohol-city-sydney-cas1.jpg

This weeks sit-in was at The Star’s renown Sports Bar. The night was filled with alcohol, gambling, banter and of course the Premier League. This was a quality night out, however, the game was a bit of a letdown.

As we were on the train heading to Central, I asked myself ‘how is this night going to be different than all the others’? I began my observations the minute we sat down at the sports bar, drinks began flowing and the seats around us began filling up. Die hard fans front and centre, while the rest of us were scattered around. As the game kicked off the people around us began to become louder and louder. As per usual banter bounced from one table to another, all fun and games until…. My friends and I encountered a male who may have had’one to many’, he then began to take the insults one step further as a result of what was going on in the game.

This was something that notable changed the dynamic of the room, laughter and cheering lowered and every table began to keep to themselves. It was at this point that phones were taken out, and became a large factor for the rest of the night. In comparison to the beginning of the night, not only my friends but also the people around us were not relying on their phones as much. An enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere was created in the room, and the need to partake in only online conversation was erased.

In comparison to the previous settings, I thought that this highlighted the different nature of place and space. As it was a public domain, and of course alcohol was in the mix there was the freedom to converse with the people around us rather than rely on twitter feeds and our friends only. “Membership feelings are enhanced by watching sport its other [people], and the public context supplies moments of acknowledgement and acceptance by other fans”. It was interesting to notice how a single game can unite such a diverse range of people, and how this ‘soccer etiquette’ is practised by more than my close group of friends. Rules that I noticed were:

  • Insults and aggressive behaviour were monitored by all (with the exception of a certain someone)
  • Volume of conversations was respectful during match play
  • Seating arrangements were made so all can see

By doing so all were able to experience a comfortable and fun night, in comparison to the first match viewed with friends attention span did alter. I think the major difference was that alcohol played a role in this week’s viewing, resulting in attention spans becoming shorter than usual. However, the nature of this week’s game also impacted our enjoyment, as Arsenal did not perform as well as previous weeks I think the ‘pre-game hype’ resulted in a letdown.

Viewing this week’s game in a public domain this week was helpful in understanding how place, space, audience and media influence our viewing experience. Surrounding yourself with strangers as well as incorporating other activities into the mix can cause viewers to rely less on their media activity, and interact more with their surroundings. I think by having that extra external ‘distraction’ it eliminates the need to participate in the only sports domain.

Till next week, Up the Gunners!

Arsenal vs. Swansea

Since beginning the season Arsenal has had 7 wins leading the to second place on the EPL ladder, victory is sweet.

As week 8 of the EPL season was approaching, Arsenal announced that they would be arsenal_vs_swansea_250314.jpgwithout Giroud and Ramsey. However, this did not setback the team, as they took out Swansea in a 3-2 lead. Walcott scoring the first two goals, and Ozil finally stepping up the plate and perfectly executing a volley a great way to celebrate his 28th birthday.

This week’s game was viewed in the comfort of my very own bed, lonesome to say the least but worth it to see the boys fight till the end.

Watching Arsenal play is a favourite pastime of mine, however, what I have found is that the experience is not the same when watching with friends. While the company can often be annoying, it is the people and the atmosphere that create the ultimate viewing experience.IMG_6300.jpg The constant bickering of rivals and the tension as the players dribble the ball up to the goal for execution creates the suspense, and once they score the feeling of relief and happiness is indescribable.

This week was not as enjoyable as the last, while the game was neck-to-neck sitting in bed  alone removed the climax of the game. Listening to myself quietly chant and cheer as Walcott took out the first two goals of the game was just not the same.

Fans do not only connect to sports through stars and places but also through the communication and social currency it generates. Sports events are social gatherings where the supplementary events and experiences are often more important than the actual game. One of the fundamental advantages of social currency is that it appeals to the deeply rooted desire of people to be part of crowds. This factor is critical to the popularity of fan-zones, travelling to away games, viewing parties, sports-bars and – more recently – the dramatic ‘socialization’ of the sports fan.

Fan socialisation ultimately is what has a dominate influence on your viewing experience. I think this was proven correct in my sit in, my viewing habits in comparison to week 4 changed. For example, my media use increased by more than 50% in areas such as social media conversations and media activity. Like my male friends, I began to involve myself in online conversations with my friends and others from around the world. I began to notice that I was using the game almost as background noise while playing games such as 1010! and Candy Crush. My attention would shift to my laptop as the commentators and ground began to create suspense as either team’s were shifting closer to the goals. And due to the early hours of the morning, the comfort of my own bed at the best of times I would often fall asleep.

In the process of viewing this week’s game, I noticed that my movie habits crossed over. These examples are how my attention span and dynamic of my bedroom influence my viewing experience:

  •  The way I assemble my pillows in my bed
  • Positioning of my laptop
  • Every 10 minutes I would put my phone down and focus on the game
  • The process of checking social media: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and finally emails
  • I always eat/chew when there is no speaking or an ad break
  • Room must be dark apart from the laptop and phone

This lonesome viewing experience highlights how the company of an audience enhances the viewing experience. In my opinion, it adds to the atmosphere, making the game more enjoyable to watch. However, it has emphasised viewing habits and attention spans, by viewing the game alone I noticed that I had a constant habit or desire to be on my phone. From a research experiment conducted by Microsoft, it found that “Young respondents were more likely to display addiction-like behaviors when it came to their devices. For example, 77 percent of people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,” compared with only 10 percent of those over age 65. Out of the 18 to 24 age group, more than half admit to checking their phone every 30 minutes or less and over three-fourths used their portable devices while watching TV“. Furthermore, it intertwines the idea of personal devices in a public and private space, in this instance I was in a private space. However, due to my media activity across a range of various platforms, I was participating in public activity.the-new-retail-boundaries-private-vs-public-spaces-of-shopping-9-638.jpg

As a result of viewer habits during games, the EPL has adopted Twitter, Facebook and various other accounts. By doing so it integrates the viewing and social media experience together, therefore blurring this idea of public and private viewing habits.

This week’s viewing experience has taught me how media influences individuals watching experience. And also allowed me to value how good company is when watching one of your favourite sports.

Till next week, Up the Gunners!

Arsenal vs. Southampton

The Premier League season is finally back and to say I am excited is an understatement.

Week 4 into the EPL season Arsenal was set to face  Southampton. After SouthamptonSouthampton-vs-Arsenal-prediction.png
scoring the first goal, in the 29th minute Koscielny legendary bicycle kick settled the score to be 1-1 at half time. However, with 5 minutes extra added to the clock, Cazorla’s last minute penalty gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Southampton at Emirates Stadium.

This week I had chosen to watch the game at my boyfriend’s house with some friends. We were a divided audience, and it was safe to say that the banter was at its peak.

Cheering and laughter filled the room as the game became neck-to-neck after half time, like any sporting event a referee is always subjected to hateful remarks. And in this instance, hateful remarks were yelled at the television as three Southampton players were rewarded a yellow card, and the “banta” did not stop there.

Throughout the game, I began to observe the social media habits of myself and also my
friends. For myself, I noticed that my mind wandered more at the beginning of the game, my social media activity was at a high as I found that I was not as interested in the first 30 minutes of the game in comparison to the 65 minutes remaining. Whereas observing the boys around me, after every five minutes each one would log onto Facebook to post something in the sports chat or access Twitter. From there, conversations would circulate during the game around certain players and dispute certain official calls.

“Through social media, fans not only connect with sport teams and leagues, but the athletes themselves have accounts which allow potentially millions of fans to connect personally to the athletes and their teams. This direct connection has allowed fans to now be a part of the sport organization’s story.” – Dr. Alyssa Tavormina.

It is becoming increasingly evident that social media is having a profound effect on the way sports fans interact and watch sports. It is almost like their social media activity adds to their viewing experience, a friend said that it adds an extra commentary section which is both informative and entertaining. Mashable have designed an infographic which displays how social media is changing our sports experiences, http://mashable.com/2012/04/27/sports-social-media-2/#9_5J3wwr8kqf.

While the night was all fun and games, I noticed that unenforced rules began to emerge such as:

  • During a good play, no one was allowed (or did) speak
  • The ‘banter’ came to a halt when we each realised it began to become a bit much
  • Once the game resumed after halftime, we all were back in the same spots as no one wanted to shift the unexamined balance of the room

After everyone left I began asking my boyfriend why he thinks these rules were unknowingly followed, he responded: “to tell you the truth its just ‘soccer watching etiquette’, rules that we’ve just unknowingly followed and its mediated everyone”. I thought this was interesting, that these rules were based on seating and speaking rather than focus on social media or what is going on around them.

From reflecting on this sit in with my friends I wanted to decipher why they added to my viewing experience?  I noticed that we feed off each others enjoyment and passion of the sports, while we were a group divided it was this division that created an energetic atmosphere. It can be said that “sports bonds people together“, while we may not have a continuous conversation circulating, “sports isn’t replacing other, more worthwhile topics of conversation between those sons and fathers, it’s just adding a level of closeness that would not be there without it“. It is this ‘bond’ that created an enjoyable atmosphere while my engagement was not at its peak, it was the influential attitudes that drew my attention more so to the game than usual.

It is the norm to say that having our eyes glued to social media we become anti-social, however in the case of this event we were becoming more social than ever. Not only with each other but from people around the world, and also individuals watching the game first hand.

Despite being in Oran Park in front of the television, having a valuable group of friends that share the same interest in sports as you enhances your viewing experience. The energetic atmosphere of Emirates stadium is also replicated in our lounge room.

Where is your favourite place to watch sports?

Till next week, up the Gunners!

An English Premier League Experience

Space – What is around you. Place – Where you are. Audience – Who is viewing.

These three key themes frame our understanding of the modern media environment. The evolution of television and the way audiences view media content has dramatically changed and is constantly evolving.

This evolution is illustrated in the practice of viewing sports on television, which has Archie Williams interview.jpgprogressed with technology; in 1936 Berlin Germany was the first television viewing station to watch the Summer Olympics of that year. This was the World’s first live stream of sports. Fast forward decades later and viewing your favourite team from anywhere in the world play has been more portable and widely accessible than EVER. Smartphone apps and online streaming services now allow the viewer to watch games instantaneously.

From antennas to live streaming sports, broadcasting companies now are offering bundles of sports channels; for example, Foxtel Australia offers the sports combo for $51 per month, consisting of channels such as all Fox Sports channels, beIN Sports etc. While lounge-projector-screen.jpgthese companies are offering various subscription packages, public spaces are purchasing and promoting these channels to encourage sports lovers to view the current games. An example of this would be Star City Casino’s  24/7 Sports Bar, a popular public space where sports, gambling and alcohol is on the agenda for the wild Saturday night and also available everyday throughout the week.

As a sports lover, going out with friends a soccer or NRL game is a great pass time for me. In particular, we favour watching the English Premier League  (EPL) with a strong focus on Arsenal. Living in Australia at first, it was rather difficult to view a live game, simply due to the time difference, not to mention access to various streams. However as of the start of this year Optus bought the rights to broadcast all EPL games, which has enabled greater access.

As a result of the love I have for watching EPL,  my digital project will be based on remote_image_ece3c110f8.jpgviewing selected games, and monitoring media habits in relation to several of the key theories we have discussed this session (list these: eg public vs. private space) . I have chosen to watch the game in my own home, at a friends house and in a public space. By doing so I will be measuring and examining:

  • My attention levels (how often I lose interest, how often I look at my phone etc)
  • Observing the actions of others
  • How the atmosphere varies and influences viewing experience
  • Are there un-proclaimed rules that we have to follow

Ultimately through experience and observations, I want to find out how space, place and audience influence an individuals viewing experience and learn how the levels of enjoyment differ each time. In pursuing this project stakeholders such as EPL viewers, owners of such public spaces and broadcasting companies can gather a wider understanding of how space, place and audience ultimately affect a viewers experience. Ultimately begin working towards how to enhance and cater to audience viewing and these various trends in a variety of different places.

Orange or Orange?

In science, experiments are conducted in order to decipher the relationship between cause and effect. When the media release an advertisement or image relating to a current issue, society view and react.

During my last year of high school, for my Society and Culture major I chose to study ‘the commodification of breast cancer research’. Sitting through this weeks lecture, the topic of discussion was Semiotics. As Sue began to explain the concept of semiotics and showed different examples, I realised that this concept can be related to the way Breast Cancer is advertised and how different sorts of people interpret and react to what they see. Looking at the example of the Dior ad staring Kate Moss, and the discussion that was brewing in the lecture theatre I became inspired to write about Breast Cancer advertising.

Although before I begin, I understand that Breast Cancer is a serious issue for women in Australia. Breast Cancer advertising is insightful and successful in conveying the importance of the disease and I completely support its effects on society. Therefore my example is not to fault Breast Cancer campaigns or offend, it is something that I have found from prior and current research.

So, lets get into semiotics. Semiotics can be broken down into ‘denotations’ and ‘connotations, which simply is the literal figure in an image and the way society interpret what they see.

Breast Cancer is one of the leading diseases in Australian women, October is the month of Breast Cancer. This is a time where society support and further promote Breast Cancer awareness.

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The denotations of this image convey women uniting ‘together’ to overcome Breast Cancer which coincides with the slogan, “Together, Connect. Communicate. Conquer. For a future free of Breast Cancer”. I feel that this image portrays the ‘inter-racial’ support amongst women. The Pink ribbon and lipstick reflect one of the biggest Breast Cancer Foundations which is the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Connotations vary, for some this can be a symbol for empowerment and unity for women and for others this can be a sexual innuendo.

In a blog by Melissa Tankard Reist she quotes pervious tweet from a former Breast Cancer patient “My ‘donation’ to research in the form of malignant flesh should not be devalued, by my cancer being reduced to a Benny Hill punchline.” Throughout her blog she expresses that ‘sexed-up campaigns’ or advertisements are offending women who have suffered from Breast Cancer as its connotations promote support for Breasts rather than the lives of women.

Ideologies and worldview very much affect semiotics. For instance feminists advocate for equal rights for women, when a feminist views this photograph instant connotations would relate to the sexualisation of women. Emily O’Malley expresses “These ads don’t even contain information about symptoms, prevention and treatment”. Breast Cancer is very much driven by Feminism, as it was one of the ways Breast Cancer was brought into light.

This is just one view from a minority in society. It can vary vastly from a cancer patient to a teenage boy, each individual have their own opinions and attitudes influenced by culture, age, gender etc.

Personally I feel that this example is a sufficient representation of semiotics.

Feel free to leave your opinions and thoughts.