Survival tactics

So, December has rolled around, faster than any one of us imagined. Ridiculous us. We should have expected it. 

Three papers, one at 12 pages, the others at 20 pages. At once. Here is where I lament the sad lack of time management skills. If ever there was a time to be developing and practicing those skills, it would have been around month 2 of the program. Month 1 was still pretty tame.

Things that have been helping, a LOT, are:

  1. free and convenient access to a gym where I never have to wait for use of the machines (unlike in Vancouver or Kingston!)
  2. the company of good friends to go out and grab a bite, despite the fact that we have deadlines looming. Food and conversations can help, seriously. 

Here’s to the last month. 

If I’m posting again in the new year, then it will mean I’ve made it and that I’m still interested in new media. Then it will have been worth all the turmoil and panic and (almost) tears. 

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How many photos have ever been taken?

At the dawn of the new millennium a new technology (that Kodak itself invented) was reshaping the whole industry – the digital photo. When the first few hundred thousand digital cameras shipped in 1997 their memory was strictly limited (in fact cameras like the Sony Mavica took floppy disks[5]!). Digital cameras are now ubiquitous – it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera[6]. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos. That might sound implausible but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there[7]. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.[8]

The world's largest photo libraries

Even accounting for population growth the exponential growth of photos is incredible (we take 4 times as many photos as 10 year ago).

To me, the Library of Congress represents a repository that holds crucial history, at least the history of select segments of Americana. So I am staggered by the number of digital photos taken, and probably on the increase, in comparison to some important archives. Is the visual record of our culture, history, and social documentation going to be maintained on Facebook? That’s disturbing.

I also thought that Flickr was one of the largest sources of photographs so am surprised by Facebook’s overwhelming dominance. Mind you, there are x number more users on Facebook so that makes sense, and the majority of the pictures taken on Facebook are not as deliberate, or professional, than those on Flickr.

We’re moving towards becoming a world with digital remains. I’m curious what archival studies will look like 50 years from now.

Wide open in the field

As I was preparing for a class presentation on reception studies, I came across Professor Henry Jenkins’ web page at M.I.T. I was taken aback by his listing of academic roles at the institution:

ACADEMIC POSITIONS

1998- Director, Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1997- Full Professor of Literature, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1994-97 Associate Professor of Literature, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1993-98 Director, Film and Media Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1993-95 Acting Director, Gay and Lesbian Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1992- Member, Steering Committee, Women’s Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1992-94 Member, Steering Committee, Cultural Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

A jack of all trades, though I am sure the second part of the saying wouldn’t apply. Just look at the disciplines in which he is listed. 

I’m noticing more and more that contemporary media/communication studies scholars are usually well-versed in a range of areas, though maybe not as broadly as Prof. Jenkins, and this helps to assuage my anxiety that I’m going to be pigeon-holed for the rest of my academic life in the topic I pick for my masters thesis. I’m finding that this is not the case for academic lifers in communication and culture.  This is a good thing.

A statement of research interests

Tonight, I had to write a self-introduction for one of the first classes of my masters program. The introduction is supposed to include a statement about one’s research interests and pursuits.

After a few fumbling drafts, this is what I came up with:

My research interests are in the areas of the formation of individual and collective identities, encouraged and influenced by i) the visual records created using photographic social media apps on mobile devices and ii) broadband access. I’m also interested in the identity-formation of small cities and hyper-local communities.

Even though it’s a big mouthful, I am satisfied with it for now, but I have a gut feeling that it will change and narrow down as the semester progresses.

Look forward to it!