Locative Media

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“Is she coming?”
“Hey, faster off the light!”
“Guys, quickly hide!”

A group of ten young girls glanced at each other behind the doors, making incomprehensible hand signs and elaborated facial expression to signal the countdown. 1… 2… 3!

“SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Taken back with our sudden outburst, S’s surprised response clearly denoted that our surprise was a huge success, which was extremely hard to keep it a secret from her since we all stayed under the same roof. Although it was only months after we stay together in this residential house, we decided to set a tradition of coming together to celebrate each other’s birthday and must be accompanied with a cake.

Her face turned terribly flushed, glowing brighter with the blusher on her face, and eyes twinkling brighter along with candlelight presented in front of her. It was endearing to find her constantly covering her embarrassed face and uttering words of awe from our overwhelming shower of love. Due to our financial limitations and in consideration of the tradition to celebrate everyone’s birthday individually, we thought of a wiser option to present her a gift and cake shared among us by combining our funds together.

We were all organised and in sync in preparation for her surprise, and able to comprehend undecipherable sign languages. But when it comes cutting the cake, we are all hilariously involved into chaotic mess because it’s in a shape of adorable white puppy. “Oh my god, how am I going to cut its head!” S exclaimed in a horrified tone and troubled expression. Turning the cake around, looking at it back and forth, she couldn’t find a proper spot to make the first cut on the cake. “Can someone make the cut on behalf of me?” She frantically pass the knife to P, who’s the eldest among us and probably the fearless too.

“Oh my god, I can’t watch this…”
“We are so cruel… like we’re going to eat a dog…”

Our shrieks of yelping from just cutting a cake (unfortunately in a dog shape) ended up drawing laughters of disbelief from each other when it ends. Perhaps we were all starving kids, as all these uncomfortable thoughts seem to vanished into thin air because we all just started digging in and savouring the vanilla flavours once P finished cutting down every slice for us.

“Okay, next time no more adorable shaped cakes!” P announced, and we all definitely agreed on that.

This was only a piece of memories each of us shared together in the journey of our lives. So much memories to reminiscent that we even called our group as “The first family in Melbourne”. It was heartwarming, flashing back to the moments where there is no need of elaborated decorations of balloons and lavish spending on gifts and cakes, yet the room is filled with genuine laughter and a peek into each others’ personalities.

Make social. Be social.

In the flipped lecture on social media, Weight has addressed the triple aspects of social media in which they are:

  • a professional networking tool. It establishes your credibility within a specific range of expertise, and it builds up a network of contacts within that professional field.

  • a tool to market media projects.

  • an emerging platform in which media projects, or aspects of cross-platform media projects, natively reside.

In view of this, this can be understood in reference to the rising power of bloggers and social media influencers in the present. We may questioned, ‘Why are certain social media users considered as influencers, while some aren’t?’ Perhaps, this has a strong correlation to the notion of “social media is authored”, as mentioned in the flipped lecture. Even though the contents posted by bloggers or social media influencers allow us–as audience–to have a peek into their personal lives, it is important to note that they are carrying themselves as a personal brand where each posts are highly curated. Social media no longer just offers users a platform for creative expression, but has extensively become a professional networking tool. In light of this, we can increasingly witnessed how bloggers are presenting their identities by posting contents with open-ended captions to gauge interactive communications. Hence, we can see here that social media has functioned as a platform that showcases all their works, a tool that promotes their identities as a personal brand, and a space that enabled them to foster both professional and social contacts.

For our digital story, the group members are attempting to address the triple aspects of social media in promoting our short film. First of all, a Facebook page will be created as a professional networking tool that connects us with key influencers in the industry or communities. Secondly, it will also be utilised as a marketing tool to increase the outreach of our short film to wider audiences. We have taken into consideration that if the short film were to be placed onto our personal social media account, it can create disjuncture for consistent communication with our audiences. As a result, having a main social media page that addresses all the core information related to our short film will be useful in marketing our media projects with a single voice, rather than overlapping voices that may create further confusion. Last but not least, social media has increasingly become a platform that supports our short film, where we are able to upload video onto our Facebook page. In this case, our short film can reside on the Facebook page. This does not only enabled audiences to view our contents easily on the same platform (saving the hassle of linking to YouTube or Vimeo), but also offers us data analytics such as traffic flow, audience engagement, and peak time for responses. Taking into consideration of social media’s technological affordances, hashtags will be used to participate into existing conversations and communities relevant to our short film.

Search Engine Optimisation / SEO

 

Within the space of World Wide Web, we are overloaded with data and information that are ever readily available for us to discover. This also means that our voices can be easily drowned and overlooked by any latest updates. Hence, we will be looking at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which discusses the hopeful ways we can increase the visibility of our websites and have our voices reaching out to desired audiences more effectively. The three main SEO principles I’ve implemented are as followed:

    1. Multi-channel optimisation
      Even though my website is the core hub of my contents, I can increase its visibility through multi-channel optimisation, especially with social media platforms. Some of the common ways that have been put into practices are having matching website name with your social media handles to increase visibility, as well as including links in the biography of your social media account for ease of accessibility. While the former can creates consistency, latter can be useful for cases where desired username has been taken.  As you can see below, my Twitter and Instagram accounts have included my links to practice multi-channel optimisation.

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      Example of Instagram: @iridescentdawnn
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      Example of Twitter: @sharonxwlee

      In this sense, your social media accounts does not only encourage more intimate interactions, but also offered an extension to your website that opens up multiple gateways for traffic flow into your website.

    2. Headlines, Permalinks
      The second way I’ve been executing on my website is to ensure my headlines and permalinks (the url that directs your audiences to a selected post) are relevant to the contents I’m discussing. This has been done by including keywords in my permalinks, as well as making sure that my headlines are attractive. Where my website has discussions around topics that may be foreign to some audiences, such as coding and programming, it is important that they are easily understandable as well. This means not using any complicated words, or jargons that can confused my audiences, thus pushing away traffic flows towards my website.
    3. Internal Linking and Rich Media Context
      Where my website contains dominantly of textual posts, I am seeking to find ways of balancing them with occasional images or videos. This approach is also helpful in optimising the visibility of my website as search engines take various mediums into consideration before presenting relevant informations on search results. In addition to that, rich media context can also creates internal linking to relevant contents that I’ve discussed before on my website. This provides further reading options, which has potential of attracting more of their attentions and increase credibility for my website.

 

 

VoIP: Connecting us virtually

Face-to-face communications allow us to have conversations on a personal level, where we are able to observe more clearly of the non-verbal cues such as body languages and micro facial expressions. However, geographical barriers and time constraints may refrained us from being capable of having face-to-face communications easily. This was especially a struggle during the busy assignment month to have a quick discussion with my digital story group. Hence, we resorted to Skype.

The most prominent strength of using Skype is its convenience in connecting our group members who lives a distant from each other. Skype does not only save the time and cost from travelling both ways, but also drastically shorten the time required to wrap up a quick discussion. Although there was slight difficulty at the start adding members into group video call, we are still able to omit unnecessary waiting time and finding a proper location for meetings.

However, there are downsides in using Skype for group discussion as well. It first required a strong Internet connection to support a smooth and stable Skype conversation. There were moments where other group members’ voice sounded unclear and requiring them to repeat their sentences again. Also, we would have to take turns speaking, instead of being able to chip into the conversation immediately due to the connection speed at times. Furthermore, the video was constantly switching on and off by itself, which makes the conversation slightly awkward because I can’t really gauge who is planning to speak next without seeing the movements. However, thankfully the sound was stable all the while, which still enabled us to carry out the conversation pretty smoothly.

 

Programming Concepts 2

 

In my previous post, I have posted an image of snowflake created in Hour of Code Lesson, which has taught me the purposes of different commands required to create that imagery. It was such a powerful lesson as these commands have enabled me to understand that command inputs do not only facilitate computer to simplified tasks on our behalf, but also it offers me an insight into the dynamic power of programming concepts that can be applied for various purposes with these basic formula.

First of all, it improves user’s experience to be more convenient and favourable by users as it creates a smooth and hassle-free user experience. The usage of repeat command can eliminate additional manual work required by users when they are using a software. For example, the repeat command in Spotify’s algorithm system enabled users to just click on the repeat icon (twice, as it has been programmed in Spotify) to listen a single track on the loop. With the repeat command integrated and represented by a symbolic sign (as pictured below), users can easily disable listening the track on loop by clicking on the repeat symbol again. In light of this, users no longer required to manually click play for the same track to listen to it again every time it ended. Furthermore, what we don’t see beyond the surface is the algorithm system that has organised these commands strategically in order to respond accordingly to user’s desired actions. In this sense, these codes are very significant not only because it smoothens Spotify’s users experience, but also it is fairly applicable in other softwares such as 8tracks, Pandora and iTunes player.

Apart from creating a hassle-free user experience, another usage of these algorithm commands such as repeat and loop on software offers its users creative experiences as well. This is particularly evident in Instagram’s Boomerang App and VSCO’s DSCO App. Both of them have applied a simple function of repetitive video playback akin to the GIF format by simply using the video recording device available on your phone. However, up until now we have only touched on repeat loop command, which is just one of repeat command’s potential. During The Hour of Code lesson, basketball star Chris Bosh has pointed out the repeat until command, where movements will only continue to a certain stage we assigned it to. To give you an idea of the significance of repeat until command, one of the example is the gaming app, Fantasy War Tactics. This game has a function of auto-repeat to complete a dungeon stage for several times. But it does not goes on infinitely because that will not create a fun or challenging experience to gamers. Hence, there are few variables such as limitation of repeatable attempts or the energy level that prompt users to continue the game themselves. So, the algorithm system has been designed to allow these dungeon stages to repeat until their character died (failed to complete the game), reached the limit of repeatable attempts, or the game rans out of available energy to enter the dungeon stage. Not only it prompts user to find ways to continue their game, but it also actually allowed players to multitask, where they can train their game characters even if they are pre-occupied with house chores or other duties.

In short, these commands are really powerful for its varying potentials in different situations and purposes. Most importantly, its potentials shine most thanks to programmers’ creative and innovative thinking in constantly shaping new user experiences with a software. And if you are interested to learn these codes yourself, check out the link here to the Hour of Code lesson!

 

What do you mean, #?

Hashtags, commonly known in its symbolic form of #, increasingly play a vital role in digital communication with its technological affordances to gather relevant data, fostering engagement and creating social groups based on a topic, whether it is an event, genre or discussion of a person. With social media strategy closely integrated with the production of short film for my digital story, I have carried out research on relevant hashtags intended to address my target audience and attract more viewerships. As my digital story is central to the genre of thriller and mystery, I have found some interesting insights from my research.

It has been found out that tweets tagged with #thriller are dominantly addressed to the conversation of fiction novels and short stories based on such genre. This is evident as seen with the media texts that are encompasses of quotes extracted from books, users’ current progress on the novel’s storyline and short reviews within 140 characters (or separated into several continuous tweets). In addition to that, tweets tagged with #thriller frequently include images of book covers and links to website for purchase. According to Hashtagify–an online hashtag tracking tool, the 10 hashtags most commonly related to #thriller include #suspense, #mystery and #crime (as pictured below). However, it is surprising to find that #ASMSG (Author Social Media Support Group) came in top with 14% correlation to #thriller, followed by #suspense and #mystery with 13.4% and 11.9% respectively. In this sense, it can be perceived that using #thriller runs in a risk of addressing the authors’ community rather than films (or short films) audiences. This is unexpected where even though using a genre focused hashtag can refer to various related medium including films and music videos, authors and fiction novels are mainly dominating in this topic.

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All Time Top 10 Hashtags related to #thriller (Hashtagify, 2016)

In addition to that, Hashtag.org has also listed the top 10 influencers for #thriller, #mystery and #suspense respectively. What’s interesting is the similarity in the list of top influencers, which has been dominated by authors (with some appearing twice in two different list) and only one or two community network. This highlights the importance of recognised individuals who are handling the account that raises their position as influencers on a topic. As you can see above, it is interesting to see how popularity of hashtags related to authors and books (#ASMSG, #IARTG, #kindle and #ebook) triumphed over the #thriller, #mystery and #crime.

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All Time Top 10 Hashtags related to #shortfilm (Hashtagify, 2016)

In conclusion, this research offers me a better understanding of the potentials of hashtags intended for my digital story’s social media strategy. The outcomes of my research has significantly shown that it is unsafe to assume that using hashtags related to my digital story does not signifies it will address my target audiences effectively, since #thriller is largely used by authors and book lovers community. Furthermore, while related hashtags can be useful to expand outreach of our tweets to wider community, its impact may not be significant if they could not reach out to your target audience. For my digital story, it would be more beneficial to include other hashtags such as #shortfilm, #filmmaking or #DeadRoad (short film’s title) that are more specific as compared to genre focused hashtags, although hashtags such as #suspense and #mystery have higher popularity within Twitter platform.