Faces of the Public: The social stigma behind capturing strangers

Did you ever look at a picture of yourself and see a stranger in the background? It makes you wonder how many strangers have pictures of you. How many moments of other people’s lives have we been in? Were we a part of someone’s life when their dream came true? Or were we there when their dreams died? Just think, you’d be a big part of someone else’s life… and not even know it.
– Lucas Scott (One Tree Hill)

It’s funny to think that through many of the captured moments in our lives, we have shared the same space with a complete stranger. We can be looking at these strangers for many years to come as we take our trips down memory lane, yet know absolutely nothing about them except what they looked like at that specific moment in time. But have you ever stopped to consider the potential ethical issues of taking someone’s photo without their consent?

Public photography is a right of passage and can by no means be avoided in this day and age with the continual evolution of handheld, mobile devices. Strangers will always play a minor part of our lives, until one day, they become something more. For instance, the photo below was taken at Disneyland 35 years ago, capturing a husband and wife years before they even met (Taylor, 2010). The wife being the little girl in the foreground and the husband being the boy in the stroller in the background. Despite living in different countries, the stranger in the background became a permanent part of her life, casting aside any futile opinions of ‘privacy’ or criticism.The odds are astronomical: 30 years ago, when Alex and Donna Voutsinas lived in different countries and long before they met and married, they were captured in the same photo at Disney World. That's Donna at right in front. Alex is in the stroller in the background immediately behind Mr. Smee.

Granted, when we take a photo it is usually with an intention in mind, whether it be a group of friends, a building, concert or stadium. The point is, most photos are not taken with the intent to capture a particular stranger. It is my mere co-incidence that any person is captured in the background of a photo. However, can we still be held accountable for ‘invading the privacy’ of individuals despite being in public space?

While it it unrealistic to seek the approval of every individual that walks in and out of a frame, it is of the utmost importance to respect the decision of others if they wish for you to delete it. By law, it is acceptable for individuals to take photos in a public space without asking for permission (Arts Law Center of Australia, 2015).
When people talk about respecting the privacy of others, it is important to consider the parameters in which we define the term ‘privacy’. It is fair game to take a photo of a stranger if they per chance happen to be in the public space in which you want to take the picture. The real invasions of privacy can be drawn when taking photos within change-rooms and public toilets whether individual privacy is expected. Children playing in the park? Fine. Someone entering their pin at an ATM? No. (Nemeth, 2014)

Why We Live, Where We Live: New York City, New York. I want to live in this location because I want to be a fashion designer and I think living here would make it easier to get a job so I could work my way up to being that.:

Street photographer, David Sutton, knows all too well about the stigmas surrounding public photography. While he knows that it is perfectly legal to candidly capture the public (including children), he can also appreciate the viewpoint of others who believe ‘just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should’. Despite his legal freedom, he has, at times, issued self-imposed limits as to what he captures including avoiding: photos that subject someone to embarrassment and photos of children as the main subject (Sutton, 2014) This opinion strongly correlates with that of Eric Kim who strongly believes that personal definitions of ethics vary from person to person as it is shaped by individual culture, upbringing and values (Kim, 2011)

Ethics is in the eye of the beholder. If you take images which you feel are exploiting of other people, it is.    – Eric Kim

For further reading on the subject, I highly recommend the work of Isabel Napier whose excellent writing draws on her own personal experiences as a tourist, including her reflection on the issues of capturing strangers in public.


An Empty Cinema

As a child in her prime from the 90’s to the noughties, I would always look forward to the day when I could go where want and do as I please without needing permission. Being a young whippersnapper had its drawbacks at times and as a result of the many restrictions I faced, going to the movies was one of my most beloved childhood endevours. But as a now ‘adult’ of sorts (and I use the definition of adult very loosely here), the once novelty of movie-going has slowly faded into a constant weighing of pros and cons (with cons usually winning). Which brings me to the question: has going to the cinema become a thing of the past? And if so, why?

The work of Torsten Hägerstrand can help us in regards to answering this question as he illustrates a strong conceptual framework for understanding the particular constraints on human activity in space and time (Miller, 2005)

Time has a critical importance when it comes to fitting people and things together for functioning in socio-economic systems – Hägerstrand

Using his ‘space-time path‘, Hägerstrand demonstrates how the time geography activity of individuals can experience three main constraints: capability, coupling and authority. Capability constraints consist of the physical or biological restrictions of human movement, coupling constraints refers to the issues of having to be at a particular place for a particular time in conjunction with other people, and authority contraints apply to problems with particular areas of control and regulation (Corbett, 2011)
Each of these constraints can now be applied in relation my personal decision not to attend the cinema. Due to the fact that we cannot instantaneously travel from one place to another, we face a trade-off between space and time (Corbett, 2011). This capability constraint can usually be reduced with the convenience of cars, but despite the fact I’m lucky enough to own a car, I am also faced with the problem that cars require fuel and parking requires money. Not to forget the endless stream of traffic. The ever so inconvenient timing of sickness is another example of a capability constraint as I could barely get myself out of bed let alone brave any exposure to the outside elements.
The coupling constraint faced include the fact that alot of the time it is impossible to find enough time in a day when everyone is available. Our ages may have doubled from our childhood days, but so have our responsibilities! A lot of us are juggling university attendance, assessments, work, sport, etc. and so finding a time that is convenient for everyone is the equivalent of finding wally.
Lastly, the most influential constraint in my opinion is the authority constraint. It seems these days that when planning your next trip to the big screen, you want to be packing a cold hard $50 note. Surprisingly enough, Steven Spielberg shares the same opinion.  Despite the emerging efforts of concessions, gone are the days of 40 cent tickets. Not only is the ticket price itself a challenge to my financial authority, let’s not forget the traditional extras of popcorn, choc-tops and soft drink – that is AFTER you pay for parking and fuel. This shortage of money restricts my authority to enter the cinema establishment and use its facilities.

I adore this photo. The empty spaces and mix of ages suggest an art house film. These people are watching a good movie.:

As a result of cinema attendance rapidly declining, it seems most of the public are experiencing these same constraints. Chris Dorr compares the physical space of cinema as a battle where distributors fight to get large box-office grosses for their films in order to become the “winner” (Dorr, 2014). But it seems today as if the whole industry is losing. According to the statistics of ‘Screen Australia’, despite the 14-25 year old age bracket illustrating the most frequent use of cinemas, the overall trend of attendance is decreasing. In addition, 1996 cinema attendance was recorded at it’s peak with 72% and an average frequency of 11.3. Comparing this data 18 years later, 2014 statistics indicate a mere 68% attendance percentage at an average frequency of 6.8 times.
I believe these diminishing figures however, are not a reflection on the quality of films or a lack of interest in them, but of the now inconvenience of the cinematic experience. Now more than ever, movies are not being confined by cinema walls. They are becoming easier and more favorable to access. The rise of Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and internet streaming on portable devices in Australia allows not only movie purchases of $10 and under, but also the added benefit of not having to leave the comfort of your own home. You can: stay in your sweats or pajamas, pause to go to the bathroom not having missed a thing, control the volume and temperature, and most of all you can choose who you want to share the space with you – if anyone. With all of these advantages, it is not unbelievable to predict that cinema attendance will continue to decline in the next 5-10 years if the industry remains as it is.

The LAN Down-Under

Do you remember the good ole’ times when you would have to rely on your nearest encyclopaedia to get any type of research?….. Well neither do I.
I can assure you that any encyclopaedia in my household is currently gathering its 20th annual layer of dust, and that’s all thanks to the introduction of the internet.

Personally, I have always grown up in a home with the internet. Amongst five family members, including two parents and three children, we share ten devices on one data plan. Granted, I hog a rather large portion of that figure, but for the sake of argument, that works out to two devices per family member. These numbers make me question; how has the internet evolved through time?
To help answer my question, I decided to interview the current members of my household including my parents and older sibling.

When questioning my father on his first experience with the internet, he describes to me the term ‘dial-up’. He remembers a time when the internet ran directly through the telephone line, meaning that the home telephone and the internet could never work simultaneously (TechTerms, 2009). “Whenever we wanted to use the internet, we would have to disconnect the phone and whenever we wanted to use the phone, we would have to disconnect the internet”. Such a vicious cycle resulted in many conflicts between: my dad expecting a call, and my older sister wanting to talk on her online MSN chatroom. Her memories of dial-up include the “screeching noises”  it made when being connected. She then proceeded to imitate the sound… poorly. But this is what it sounded like:

Through the evolution of internet, out of the 7.3 million households with internet access, only 4% still use the dial-up method and a 93% majority have evolved to bigger and better things – broadband (ABS, 2014). Today, our internet runs on a DSL broadband connection, like 54% of other broadband users. But is the family happy with this service?
“Compared to dial-up, broadband is a god-send, but I still find myself getting frustrated with internet speed”. It was apparent that although internet has improved throughout the years, our usage of it has also increased which can cause congestion on the copper internet wires (TIO, 2011). My sister comments that “iPhones, iPads, Laptops, PCs and TVs all share the wireless internet connection which can really slow down the speed”. This isn’t very surprising considering Australia is falling behind in the internet ranks, being 44th in the world for average internet speed (Donovan, 2015). Irritations of speed illustrate a ‘significant demand for the National Broadband Network (NBN)’ (Nansen et al, 2014, p.23)

“Unfortunately we don’t have access to the NBN network just yet” despite mum’s wishes, but after researching our address on their official website, I found out that ground-works are currently underway in preparation of the NBN. Upon asking whether he would consider signing up for the NBN, dad considers that “It depends on the overall additional cost. Speed is important but affordability is also a priority. It would be interesting to experience it as a trial to see whether it is worth it”. This opinion also correlates with other non-NBN users in Australia (Nansen et al, 2013, p. 27)

The primary research collected through my family has helped me conclude that the internet never used to be a priority in the family home, but through the technological advances in the past decade, there has been an increasing demand to use the internet for both business and leisure purposes and therefore this requires constantly improving efficiency. Can you and your family also relate to these issues?

– Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014), ‘Type of Household Internet Access’, Household Use of Information Technology Australia, abs.com.au, viewed 23/08/2015, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/A0074B22E3150EEECA257C89000E3F7A?opendocument&gt;

– Donovan, S (2015), ‘Internet speeds: Austalia ranks 44th, study cites direction of NBN as part of problem’, ABC News, abc.net.au, viewed 23/08/2015, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-12/australian-internet-speeds-rank-44th-in-the-world/6012570&gt;

– Nansen, B., Arnold, M., Wilken, R. and Gibbs, M. (2012), ‘Broadbanding Brunswick: High- speed Broadband and Household Media Ecologies: A Report on Household Take-up and Adoption of the National Broadband Network in a First Release Site’, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Sydney.

– ProOnCall Technologies (2015), ‘Technological Advances In The Past Decade That Have Changed Social Media’, Pro OnCall Technologies, prooncall.com, viewed 23/08/2015, <https://prooncall.com/technological-advances-past-decade-changed-social-media/&gt;

– TechTerms (2009), ‘Dial-Up’, Internet Terms, techterms.com, viewed 23/08/2015, <http://techterms.com/definition/dialup&gt;

– Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (2011), ‘What affects the speed of an internet connection?’, TIO News, tio.com.au, viewed 23/08/2015, <https://www.tio.com.au/publications/news/what-affects-the-speed-of-an-internet-connection&gt;

– Video: wilterminus (2008), ‘The Sound of Dial-Up Internet’, Youtube, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0&gt;

Collaborating with Ethnography


Quantitative research is a logical, quantifiable method of research commonly used to gather information in a statistical and numerical manner (Babbie, 2010). While this approach can successful in numerous ways, however is it the most effective and beneficial way to gather data? Quantitative information gives us matter-of-fact, methodical findings, but it also illustrates a sterile, emotionless results which, to the average individual, is meaningless.

Ethnography adds a third-dimension to the field of research. According to Ebrahim, ethnography is a ‘discipline that studies the processes associated with the way in which people perceive, describe and explain the world.’ It can be thought as a process that incorporates personal perspectives of the world in order to derive significance of a situation (Ebrahim, 1995 p.197). This concept can be further expanded with the concept of collaborative ethnograophy which simply is an extension of ethnography in that it ‘deliberately and explicitly emphasizes collaboration at every point in the ethnographic process’ (Lassiter, 2005)

When analysing the use of contemporary media within our homes, collaborative ethnography gives us the best insight into the true essence of media, its individual consumption and its constant development in a way that statistical data and graphs from quantitative data can’t. Sure, quantitative data can reveal cold, hard facts of who watches what television programs and how often, but depending on the type of research you’re undertaking it also has its faults. Television in particular, can be on yet not even be watched. Personally, sometimes I leave the TV on just to fill the silence; other times I mute it; other times I’m paying more attention to other media platforms. But for all the ABS, OZTAM or other statistical organisations know, I actually enjoy watching reruns of ‘Mork and Mindy’…. ENHHH. No. You are the weakest link.
Collaborative ethnography fills this gap in the research process, allowing us to further appreciate and authenticate findings by providing emotional insights into personal media consumption and how they make people feel.

Through last week’s blog post, interviewing my dad on his personal experience of television revealed more than just the date, time, price or coordinates of his association with TV; it evoked feeling, nostalgia and memories of significance. None of these results could have been achieved merely from quantitative research. It can be thought that his words helped me form my words as, through a collaborative effort, I gained a far greater understanding of television in a different age.

– Babbie, Earl R. The Practice of Social Research. 12th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage, 2010; Muijs, Daniel. Doing Quantitative Research in Education with SPSS. 2nd edition. London: SAGE Publications, 2010.

Ebrahim, G & Sullivan, K (1995), ‘Qualitative Field Research’, Mother and Child Health: Research Methods, Book Aid, uowplatform.com

-Lassiter, L (2005), ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, uchicago.edu, viewed 19/08/2015, <http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html&gt;

A Vision into the Past: Memories of Television


Being a child of the 1990’s, I grew up in a world surrounded by a technological glow. Mobiles, laptops, iPod and tablets are all objects that seem to be an everyday necessity to get through life. But of course there was a time where such things were only ever realistic in Sci-Fi movies and were considered our equivalent to hover-boards and flying cars for us today. This week I got to experience a glimpse into life during the debut of the modern world, the television.

In 1964, at the impressionable age of 5, my father, Ed Forde, watched with curious eyes as the strange man pulled up in his van, climbed onto the roof and attached what he now knows as the outside aerial for their brand new, two channeled, black and white television. For the majority of his young life, Ed grew up with his two parents and siblings in the rural town of Grenfell New South Wales. “Mum and Dad were always true advocates for family bonding” he says, “despite the cost of such a luxury, they considered it a worthy investment if it meant bringing us all together”. He mocks the modern day fears of television and technology creating introverts who can’t communicate and even criminals! If anything, he believes television helped spark such communication by providing the opportunity to comment on particular programs: about what they liked and what they expected would happen in the next episode. “Television never stopped me from going outside either. When given the option to either watch TV or go fishing or riding, i would always choose to go outside”, and i can personally vouch for that from all the stories I’ve painstakingly heard.

One of his earliest memories of growing up with a television was actually being frightened of it. “There was one show in particular I was absolutely terrified of. My brother would watch it everyday and I would always have to leave the room”. After eventually growing out of that stage, him and his brother Brendan would religiously watch their favourite program ‘Bell-bird’. As he could guess the puzzled look on my face, he helped me along by continuing to say, “probably today’s equivalent of ‘Neighbours’ “. Since television was always more of an afternoon/evening event, It just so happened that the time of the program co-insided with the time that their father would shave his face in the bathroom and somehow the microwaves emitted from the electric razor always seemed to effect the reception of the TV. “Even though I shared that one TV with 6 other siblings, that is the only time i remember having any conflict with sharing”.

I then proceeded to ask him about the television etiquette that was followed in the house. His mother was always had the authority of the house. She was very stern when it came to certain rules. The TV would always be turned off when visitors came over or when eating dinner. “Despite our irritation, Mum and Dad always had their way with the remote. You’re lucky enough to have more than one TV so you can watch whatever you want in the other room”.
I was also curious about classification rules in those days. Did they share the same ‘PG’, ‘M’, ‘MA’ guides to restrict younger viewers from watching certain content? Although he wasn’t sure, he remembered a couple of progams that he was never allowed to look at. “Shows like ‘Number 96’ and ‘The Box’ I was always forbidden from watching as a kid.” These programs were considered to be quite racy for the times with the frequent appearance of nudity and raunchy behavior.

One of Ed’s most defining moments while watching television was indeed the famous moon landing of 1969. He recalls being in year 6 when the iconic moment hit the screens. He paints the picture of the whole school being rounded up and taken to an old open-aired weather shed where the single TV stood on it’s four legs. “Everyone always seemed to be skeptic about the possibility of man walking on the moon but I was amazed of the fact that I was actually seeing it unfold right before my very eyes on this television.” It changed everything for Ed. Suddenly television became this amazing opportunity to experience something wonderful that you would otherwise never have been apart of. It became an unbelievable platform for communication in a way that it connected us from all the way out-of-space, to the small country town of Grenfell.

Upon the conclusion of this interview, Ed reiterates that television has overall been an extremely positive contribution to our society. Such technology has bridged a gap in communication and allowed us to experience a different way of absorbing the world around us. Of course, television has evolved significantly through the years from when it was first introduced in Australia. From it’s four legs, two channels and massive back, we now experience televisions thinner than cereal boxes with endless channel options that we often take for granted.

Drumroll Please….

Ask me the question of what I want to do with my life and you’re pretty much guaranteed an answer that looks a lot like this… https://31.media.tumblr.com/047baa85e8d1dff9a4b9fa63039b5d7b/tumblr_inline_n8v4294jTJ1s54wvn.gif But in addition to these two activities on high rotation, we may as well throw in my unnatural addiction to the media in all its forms and glory. To give you a sneak preview into the bubble that is Hannah Forde, I am currently surrounded by my perfectly organised chaos of devices. iPhone in hand, Laptop in lap, TV perfectly alined with my pupils. I know what your thinking right. All these microwaves are bound to cause some type of cerebral impact, and you’d probably be right! But of course, it didn’t start out this way. I remember a past life. A simpler life. A life where the only technology I truly depended on was my need to keep my Tamogotchi alive. So i guess you could say I’ve been practicing in the field of media for…. a long time. I’ve learned to perfect the art of juggling multiple media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, tumblr, Pintrest and we may as well add WordPress into the mix. Of course there is more to the media than social media. Television plays a big part. Pretty much anything with a rectangular shape i find myself attracted to. When i get really crazy, I like to mix the two up. For instance, last night consisted of the premiere of The Bachelor and a Facebook tab linking me to my closest friends as we continuously mocked the cringe-worthy personalities that appeared. So what have we learned today folks? Apart from the fact i don’t get out much, when it comes to the media, i clearly give it two thumbs up. Despite the media giving media alot of hardship, I believe the positives far outweigh the negatives and in this day and age, the media space isn’t slowing down anytime soon! – Hannah

The Interview

When considering assessment 2, my group and i came to a consensus that we were all interested in investigating the topic of stereotypes within families in comedic television programs. What i mean by this is analysing family roles in different tv shows and identifying the social stereotypes they posses. For example, it is commonly found in tv shows that father’s are often depicted as lazy and idiotic, mothers are often nagging house-wives and children are often categorised as one being rebellious ‘failure’ and one being an intelligent ‘goodie-goodie’.
Although we knew the area in which we wanted to research, in practice, we struggled in creating a specific research question however we have now landed on

As practice, i asked my sister some of the questions we have put together.

1. Age: 29

2. Gender: Female

3. Are you familiar with the following television programs: The Simpsons and Modern Family?
Yes, i have seen episodes from both shows

4. How would you describe the traits of the characters from:
– The Simpsons:
a nag
the outsider

– Modern Family:
Phil: Idiotic
a nag
the outsider

5. In one word, describe the main role of each member of the family
Homer: provider

Phil: Supporter
Family therapist
the cool one

6. Do you see a familiarity between any of the characters from The Simpsons to the characters in Modern Family?

7. Do you think the way families are represented in television has changed over time? Can you elaborate?
Yes, for example, modern family now incorporates gay couples, adopted babies and generational differences in marriage.

8. Do you think that the roles in The Simpsons have changed over time to fit in with social norms?

9. Do you think that Modern Family correctly reflects social norms in society today?

It is important to note that these questions at this point are merely drafts and nothing has been labelled official.