The Internet, Changing our Lives

A few weeks ago we were asked to ask someone older than us; our mum, dad, grandparents, whoever and discuss with them what television was like for them when they were growing up. So for this weeks task I returned to my mother and bugged her to answer more of my questions this time, about what her households access to the internet was like.

She was unclear on the exact time that internet became a ‘thing’ when she was younger and my Mum is quite young  but to the best of her knowledge it was some time when she was in high school that dial up internet was first introduced into the world. Of course computers were around but internet, a way to get ‘online’, the world wide web, it was brand new and interesting and apparently just the coolest thing ever.

Sure the internet is pretty cool now, but for many of us internet has always been around. Yes, of course I still remember having dial up internet but my whole life I’ve always had that access to the internet and growing up with school assignments etc. Having the internet made it all that much easier to do these things. When I asked my Mum about this sort of thing when she was younger she said that that’s what the library was for. Instead of just Googling it, she used textbooks and searched the library for the right thing.

She also said she didn’t have the internet at home when she lived with her parents, it wasn’t until she moved out that she had the internet in her home. It just wasn’t something that they needed when she was living at home. When you compare that to what its like in homes now, the internet is in almost everything we do at home, of course we have WIFI now and instead of it taking several minutes to get online we can be online in seconds.

We use the internet to stream Netflix to our TV’s, the WIFI allows us to scroll through our Facebook Newsfeed at home without using all our data, our computers use the internet to do anything online or even back-up our computers to the cloud.

The internet has changed not only these things but even the way we consume television, that television space talked about a few weeks ago, its become a lot different because of the internet. It was not an immediate change but gradually over time it has changed the way we consume television. Even right now as I write this post I’m streaming Netflix to my television. I don’t very often watch television with my family in the way my mum would watch television with hers. Each member of my family has a seperate Netflix account and we watch what ever we want but never together. That kind of closeness that my mother felt to her family watching television is not something my family feels when we watch television together.

The internet has become a big part of our world, even 20 years ago let alone when my Mum was younger it was never as big of a part of her world as it is ours. It has all changed so much and is changing so many of our spaces in not only our households but just everywhere, it is well and truely changing our lives. For better or for worse? You’ll have to be the judge of that.

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Stop. Collaborate and Listen

Ethnography is the scientific description of peoples cultures and their customs, habits and mutual differences. And as Luke Lassiter suggests ethnography is by definition collaborative. Although in he discusses two different forms of ethnography; reciprocative and collaborative. This weeks main focus in the lecture was on collaborative ethnography.

Reciprocation Ethnography entails an act of return, a giving back for something received. In the ethnographic process, this sets up a model of exchange where one thing granted yields an appropriate reciprocal response.

Collaborative Ethnography is an approach to ethnography that deliberately and explicitly emphasizes collaboration at every point in the ethnographic process, without veiling it. Collaborative ethnography, then, is both a theoretical and a methodological approach for doing and writing ethnography. The most advantageous point to collaborative ethnography would be the creation of a better understanding of peoples’ cultures.

An example of collaborative ethnography is reflecting, sharing, discussing and getting a better understanding of the culture of others by reading the blog posts of our peers from last weeks task about how television media was watched and consumed in the homes of a member of their family. Whether it be the stories of their parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles any linkage between qualitative research to paint a larger portrait of a particular culture or idea is all collaborative ethnography.

My blog for last week was centred on the consumption of television by my mother and her family when we was a child and after reading some of the other posts by people it was clear that things I discussed with my mother were also similar to some of the things others discussed with their chosen interviewee. Even from my own experiences watching television with my family, I have experienced all these similar feelings of nostalgia and connection to my family through us watching television together. Realising these similarities by reading these similar stories is also collaborative ethnography.

All this collaborative ethnography made it very clear that television played a much larger role in homes than just another piece of entertainment technology. The television played a role of a physical space where families bonded and enjoyed each others company. By personally participating in some collaborative ethnography is has really helped me have a deeper understanding of the concept of collaborative ethnography and also understand peoples feelings and attitudes about television in the past.

References:
University of Chicago, 2005, An excerpt from The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago, viewed 11 August,<http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html>

Memories of the Television

I had a conversation with my mum about what TV was like for her as a child and growing up. My mum grew up in the Sutherland Shire with her 2 brothers, sister and mum and dad. When my mum was growing up colour television was already in homes and had been for two years. So unfortunately she had no cool stories of what it was like to experience black and white television and the development of television media before the colour TV.

When I asked her about what memories she had of watching television and the television in the house while growing up with less than 30 seconds hesitation she replied with a smile on her face “What do I remember about television as a child? Mostly I just remember that because we only had one television and I was the youngest, I never got to choose what we watched and because our television had a clicker to change the channels instead of a remote I was always the one who always had to get up to change the channel”.

Television played a bigger role throughout her early childhood than it did as she grew older and spent much more time outdoors and with friends. So although the TV may have not have played a big role while growing up it definitely played a significant one and she has plenty of memories that in one way or another involve the household television.

My mum recalled weekends, particularly early Saturday mornings, being the only way she was able to choose what was watched on the TV and so on these mornings she would get up and sit on her beanbag on the floor of the rumpus room and watch the morning cartoons until the rest of the family got up. She told me as a child she remembers watching a lot of old school Play School but as she got older her favourite show became Danger Mouse. She was excited to tell me that recently a reboot of the show had started to air for a new generation of children.

She recalled fondly sitting with her siblings some days after school when they weren’t sent outside to play and watching television till their dad got home and then choosing what to watch became his decision from then onwards. From MacGyver to M.A.S.H in my mum’s words she had to ‘endure’ it all because if she wanted to watch television that was what she watched whether she liked it or not.

Finally, I asked her if there were any moments watching television that she remembered particularly and instead of answering with what I expected would be her response with something like watching her first Olympics, she replied “I do remember when I was about nine and the whole family sat down and watched a movie called The Emerald Forest together. I can’t remember what the movie was about or anything that happened in it, but I just remember sitting around with my family and watching”

Not only has the television itself become incredibly different in relation to size, shape and quality but the ways people as a family experience television has changed as well. I know in my home personally, it is very rare that I sit down with my family and we watch TV together, having a TV in my room ensures I always get to decide what I watch and thanks to the remote I never have to get up from the comfort of my bed to change the channel.