Undermining women’s threat is bad for men, too.

I just read the most disturbing article. A female primary school teacher who tried to have sex with her 10-year-old student walks free of jail, with her name on the sex offender list for eight years and a community correction order.

The news is deeply disturbing for any right thinking person, I’m sure of it. Especially because, as the victims father so aptly put it, ‘if it was a 46-year-old man and a 10-year-old girl… it would most likely be a different outcome’.

Such a punishment doesn’t demonstrate any level of gender equality. I’m not for a second blaming society on what happened to this poor child, but I am holding it responsible for the punishment of his teacher- who tattooed his name to her chest with an infinity symbol.

While our society continues to undermine the agency of women, this goes further than to handicap all the decent, smart and worthy women we know. It enables those wrongdoers who are deserving of retribution to walk away largely unscathed. If you read, watched or listened to this story and thought it an example of gender equality working in the favor of women, I beg you to keep reading.

Not only is that statement linguistically illegitimate- if you are the victim of inequality you are deemed inferior and therefore this can only work against your favor- but it fails to recognise that women can be threatening.

If more value was placed in the power and agency of women, maybe the severity of this crime would have been brought to justice in a more deserving way.

If you’re too consumed in the facts of that situation, I’ll give you another example: the elevator. Unless you’ve been living under a cactus and didn’t catch wind of the Solange Knowles attack on brother-in-law Jay-Z in the elevator of an American hotel earlier this year, you’ll have noticed all the jokes and memes created in the aftermath of the leaked CCTV footage. While no parties appeared physically injured as a result of Solange’s attack, the incident was still written off by many as laughable. Why? Nobody would be joking about, or trying to justify (by considering what Jay must have done to ‘deserve’) this situation if it were reversed.

ouch

It is not funny when women are violent and it is not harmless when women are predators. These are awful crimes against humanity and we all need to recognise that in brushing these incidents off, we aren’t making it any easier to be female than male. We’re undermining their ability to cause damage. We’re doing the opposite and it isn’t good for anyone.

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What we can learn from transparent fashion bloggers

Last week Abrakedabra wrote about the need for fashion bloggers to disclose information about sponsorship and working with particular brands. Abrar focused on the cost of featuring in Sydney Fashion Blogger‘s posts, up to $850. While Sydney Fashion Blogger has been criticised for her lack of disclosure, some bloggers use transparency to build authentic relationships with publics. 

PR practitioners understand the need for transparency in an organisation, especially when it comes to affiliations with big brands.  

One entrepreneur who understands this need is Australian fashion blogger Nicole Warne (aka garypeppergirl). In an interview with Renegade Collective, Warne spoke of her qualms with accepting “gifts” from brands, saying that she no longer accepts them due to the associated expectations.

“I don’t do sponsored posts and if I have worked with a brand, I’m quite clear on communicating that I’ve partnered with them.”

 Warne has been criticised by Jonathan Moran (The Daily Telegraph) for her position as a blogger. Moran noted Warne’s current location as “a freebie around Europe as a guest of Contiki in exchange for daily social media posts”.

As Blogger Mrs Woog stated in her guest post on Mumbrella, it is okay to get paid for your work. And Warne was very clear about her relationship with Contiki in all of her captions on her “daily social media posts”. 

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PR practitioners can learn a lot from these often-misconstrued bloggers. The good ones, like Warne, understand their audience, respond personally to emails and engage only in things they “love” in order to continually connect with their followers.  

Here is why we need to learn from fashion bloggers. According to BamRaisers:

  • More than 60% of U.S. online consumers say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of reading a bloggers recommendation, and;
  • Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines

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So next time you discover a fashion blogger, judge more than her cushy title, because we can learn some good (and bad) internet etiquette tips from them. Warne doesn’t have 826,303 instagram followers for nothing. 

Since when was our PM a chief media regulator?

Out of everything said by our politicians and journalists in the last two days regarding the Tony Abbott’s outburst at the perspectives of the ABC, this comment from the PM has been a major stand-out:

“You would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for the home team”

To me, affection for the “home team” means affection for Australia and all its citizens, not just the views and actions of one political party. Don’t we have a right to exposure of multiple views from multiple media organisations? Abbott wasn’t complaining during the 2013 election when News Corp took Rudd and the labor party to town on Australia’s door-steps each morning.

 Why should we give our government, our navy (or anyone else, for that matter) the “benefit of the doubt” when it comes to reporting?

 Yes, journalists aim to be “fair, balanced and accurate” and to report information that is factual and in the public interest. We don’t need our political leaders to remind us of that. Their job is to lead our country, not our newspapers. It certainly isn’t their job to decide when a journalist (let a lone an entire broadcasting network) has crossed the line.

 To me, a “rigorous commitment to the truth” involves running stories about issues our government is clearly trying to keep at bay. Sure the ABC rely on heavy government funding, but at the end of the day this money comes from tax payers, aka the Australian public. Fundamentally, being committed to the truth means putting thorough research and evidence into absolutely everything you report. However a rigorous commitment to the truth also means biting the hand that feeds you because it is in the public interest. 

Digital storytelling review

Here is a review of three different digital stories.

  1. Sound of my Voice trailer 
  2. Take this Lollipop 
  3. Sins of the Fathers 

Sound of My Voice

This digital story was really captivating. While I only saw the trailer, I felt anxious, confused and frustrated on behalf of the characters. It functioned well as an online movie. At the end of the trailer there was a link to watch the first 12 minutes of the full movie. Clever. A strength of an entire movie functioning as a digital story is that the audience can watch it at their own leisure. They can pause, skip forward, back and watch it on the go. This does double as a weakness though. Many people would still be more receptive to seeing a movie in its entirety at the cinema, where there is no disturbance, surround sound and minimal lighting. Therefore, they are less likely to get bored and are more likely to engage closely with the story. While I think its a great story, I don’t think its a significant development in terms of storytelling, as all that has changed about this movie is the platform.

Take this Lollipop

This is a brilliant form of online storytelling. In personally engaging the audience (by making them the main character of the story), it has a lasting effect on their mental state. It is therefore more likely to be remembered than any other story about stranger danger. In this story- you’re the one in danger. A strength of this story was the use of current Facebook data as narrative content. The one big weakness was having to put your Facebook password in. Even though it says on the home page that the creators don’t like hackers, its hard to trust any site that asks for such information. I think its great, a really significant development for storytelling. It reminded me of those personalized books you could order as a kid. But this time it actually had a meaning. While it was all fiction, it dealt with real life issues and implications through its association with social media and your own personal internet use.

Sins of the Fathers

This was a film made in an acmi workshop about digital storytelling. It had no significance in the way of storytelling development but it was still an engaging story. A strength was the use of calm, slow narration and soft background music in combination with abstract pictures as well as real photographs. A weakness of the video was that in the form I watched it (and I’m sure other audience members did was well), the edges of the screen were cut off. 

Overall I think these were all quite gripping, innovative stories that made effective use of delivering a story online. 

Flipped lecture: browser wars

Lets start off with saying I had no idea what Netscape was before watching this. I had never heard of it.

The documentary begins by comparing the world wide web to other revolutionary inventions such as sliced bread, the electric lightbulb and the aeroplane.

As we would expect, the narrator informs us that the internet started with a group of imaginative computer nerds.

From what I gathered, the internet was around for a while but used specifically for research, and was just presented as text. The documentary conveys the change from this set up to the internet we know, with

‘images, pictures, audio and video capabilities’.

It astounded me that these guys knew what was up at such a young age, ‘junior year university’. Just when I thought that was impressive, the early success of Bill Gates was relayed.

‘I have as much power as the president’

he said. So microsoft ruled technology. I found it amusing the way the documentary used dark, intimidating shots to relay the goings on at their headquarters. It matched the ‘simple yet ambitious’ aim of Gates to have a PC in every house and office, all running Microsoft programs. This might have sounded ludicrous at the time, but hearing it today really brought home the fact that this stuff is changing the world, a revolution, as claimed at the beginning of the video.

And while I will forget the name of Netscape in a couple of hours, I will remember the fact that I watched this using google chrome, as explorer sucks.

Click here for the link to the documentary!

 

Flipped lecture: 6 degrees of separation

‘Did you know that you’re only six handshakes from anyone on earth?’

I didn’t.

The notion that there are only 6 degrees of separation between two people has been a figure of speech for years. Until watching a documentary on the study of this, I brushed it off, never considering it as a literal possibility.

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The documentary suggests that ‘nature has a hidden blue print’ that is directly related to network theory. Societal networks are extremely important to marketers and individuals alike. If we don’t understand networks, we can’t understand markets and society.

It was related to the ‘6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game’ (play here). Hollywood, as stated in the documentary, is a prime example for how the theory works. What started from a game made by college students was actually a fundamental role in the experiment; due to the motivation it gave scientists. It was found that,

a few random links shrunk the distance between a million actors.

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The scientists wondered: How can a population of dissimilar individuals suddenly synchronise? How does order emerge from chaos? They figured the only way to find out was to study further. An experiment was conducted in which people from all over the world were given a package to give to an American man. These people included a dancer from Paris, a college student from Germany and a young woman in a small African village. Each of the few participants had different expectations and different views of the level of difficulty involved in their task.

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‘We tend to know people like ourselves’ 

The suggestion that we are locked within our own circles was something I found to be true. For example, I know a lot of people who know other people I know, however they are all based in communities I am a part of.

Just a single random link has enormous effects

The findings of this experiment are supported by another study featured in ‘Proof! Just six degrees of separation between us’ in The Guardian (2008), in which the results of a study into the issue was published. The email based experiment found an average of 6.6 degrees of separation between its participants.

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One of the more interesting things I discovered watching the documentary was the notion that the six degrees project helps us to understand the origin of disease. It makes sense: If we can know so many people that easily, why would we not be able to infect and be infected by these people? We all know someone who has moved away somewhere foreign. We all know someone who has been quarantined. The prevalence of disease and the necessity for needles and quarantine services helped me come to terms with this angle of the study. All I needed to do was think back a few years to the swine flu epidemic. It all started with a random connection.

Another thing that iterested me was that I could link myself to Beyonce. All in all, I think this doccumentary is well worth a watch. It widened my thinking in terms of global communication and let me to realise that the world is both small and big at the same time.

To watch the video in full, follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz29Onl_uRw