Shaping of the Project: Audience Research

This project has been a definitely been on quite a journey. From the initial idea of the transmedia narrative carried out across different forms of social media to now being more of an abstraction/visualisation type piece. From my fine art background, I have always felt most comfortable with working with creative art, however I find it a massive struggle to overlap fine art and digital art due to my lack of confidence with the technical side of things. I feel that my technical skill never quite does my creativity justice. I am aware that this is why we have the option to collaborate, so they we can utilise other peoples skill sets, however I feel that from my own personal perspective I wanted to challenge myself and force myself to improve in terms of my coding and technical ability which this project has allowed me to do. Additionally I feel that I put too much emphasis on this graduate project being a “thing”, a “product” that had to have a point to it, i.e. something that had a start and an end or was more of a sellable package like a game for example. From the very beginning I wanted to create something people would interact with and appreciate without it being just “another app” or “another website” . I have always had an interest in media audiences and the sociology/psychology surrounding why people engage with it, and this was extended further with my dissertation research which was about audience who watch TV and use Twitter simultaneously. Instead of using what I knew about social network to create one, I wanted to make something that looked at it from another angle and since social media has been such a phenomenon in the last 10 or so years so I felt this would have plenty of scope. This idea had come from ongoing observation of people. From being in uni and using social media to communicate with course colleagues and sports teams, to working in a busy restaurant and over hearing people discussing what they had seen on social media over dinner. It fascinated me how much it came up in conversation. This is where I decided to put my observation to good use. Until now the observations I had been making were relatively “indirect” (Wilson 2002). I think this fascination came from my own personal usage of social media. Yes it is something I have and use, but I regularly question my own usage and test my own dependance on it. I enjoy going on holiday and not taking a phone, and I sort of judge myself for using it if I am say, away on holiday. Social media used to be about sharing things, but the accessibility of the internet and the popularity of internet devices has meant that we can share as and when we like, absolutely anywhere with signal, which lets be honest is everywhere. The question I always ask is that if people are having a good time and what not, then surely they can’t be having that good of a time if they willing to stop to post something online? Its not like before where you would come home and take time and effort to sit at a proper computer attached to the online world with an ethernet cable.

What was interesting is that once you start taking notice of something, how much you see it, but then when I questioned people, most commonly, they were always quite quick to deny how much they actually engage in social media. This made me question how any research that I carried out might be difficult because people wouldn’t be truthful. If I was to question people directly “this would assume that they have an ability to recall earlier behaviour accurately- which may not always be true” (Wilson 2002).  This is why the research process needed to be thorough however, it needed a different structure to normal because by asking to them to “make self observation” (Wilson 2002), their answers would be likely to change. Having made this observation, I feel the application of Wilson’s (2002) social research methods was the best suited.

observation

When studying something so large scale and broad as social media I feel this was a good decision, especially when wanting to create something artistic which isn’t really that artistic – it needed to be broad. By using focus groups, interviews, questionnaires and general indirect/direct observations in a less formal environment I feel that this gave me a solid overview of the subject without overkilling it and still allowing for creative flair.

 

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