International interaction

Australian International Education

Australian International Education


With the level of international students in Australia on the rise, it is no wonder the world is becoming more cosmopolitan. With the impact of globalisation, individuals are categorising themselves as citizens of the world, accepting and valuing difference and diversity as well as an openness to change and engagement with world issues such as history, politics and cultural diversity. However, it is evident that international students in Australia face many concerns and difficulties in becoming accustomed and comfortable in the Aussie culture.

Safety and security, exploitation in housing and employment, transport and visas and migration are just some of the issues international students in Australia have to overcome (Vogl and Kell 2011). But yet of all the social and academic issues and problems facing international students, the problem they themselves most often refer to is difficulties with English. Vogl and Kell and tutorial discussion reiterate this claim as many examples were provided stating that the Australian language and our slang is difficult to interpret the real meaning of what is being communicated. Our culture’s idiosyncrasies and pace of speech often makes it difficult for international students to keep up with the conversation and have an input themselves.

Most international students want closer interaction with local students, and are prepared to take risks to achieve this in an attempt to overcome the language barrier. It is a two-way street for international and local students in becoming open to cultural acceptance. While international students may be shy and nervous about approaching a local student in case of language differences, it is the exact same for local students striking up a conversation with someone from another country who may speak a different language. But, it is only when one steps outside this comfort zone that cultural competence and be achieved and unpredictable relationships can be formed.

My Summer camp staff

My Summer camp staff

This here is a photo of the staff at the Summer camp I worked at during the American Summer of 2012. Just by looking at the individuals in the photo, it is impossible to determine who is American and who is not, if any other than myself. In fact, there are 9 different countries represented including United States, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Iceland, England, Germany, Sweden and Ireland. The point I am trying to make is that before hearing someone speak it is impossible to know their level of English. Judging and making assumptions on how an individual looks can prevent communication and long-lasting relationships with them. While it took some getting used to understanding each culture’s accent and slang, the journey provided me with experiences and friendships that I will never forget and always cherish. Stepping outside your cultural comfort zone will provide you with unimaginable experiences.

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Globalisation of Year 9 no more

My understanding of globalisation has come a long way from the days of Year 9 Geography in high school. How wrong I was to think that all it was was countries having treaties with one another or transnational corporations like McDonalds or Coke dominating the world. While what I learnt was not incorrect it wasn’t the whole picture. Since then I have experienced the world and the world’s cultures within Australia and have realised that globalisation has a much broader and yet more specific spectrum to it.

The global communication environment is media saturated and offers information overload and access to a virtual global community. With media technologies and especially the internet being such an integral part of everyday life nowadays, meaningful interpersonal communication and traditional communities, languages and values may seem to be losing their importance. Like me, I am sure everybody is guilty of this at some stage, like texting Mum who is only in the other room to please bring me in a glass of water when she comes in. Instantaneous messaging has made us somewhat lazy, however, it enables communication regardless of proximity.

globalisation
In 2012 I travelled to America by myself to work at an American Summer camp for 3 months. The experience completely opened my eyes to the world and its cultures as girls came from places such as New Zealand, England, Germany, Turkey, Iceland, Sweden and of course America. While the notion that “globalisation could lead to the homogenisation of the world’s cultures” (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, p.458) was prevalent to an extent, each person had their own beliefs, values, language and individuality which could never be changed. While all of us were aware of the dominance of Western culture upon our own, when I said “thongs”, Americans said “flip flops” or someone from New Zealand referring to them as “jandals”, something as simple as that opened up our minds to the everlasting differences in cultures which cannot be affected or influenced by the increasingly globalised world.

Globalisation also offers a sense of interconnectedness and media platforms like Skype and Viber facilitate in the formation and encouragement of relationships and communities across geographic, racial, religious and cultural barriers. It is incredible to think that my family in Australia was able to speak to and see me via Skype whilst I was in America some 16000km away. Globalisation has made possible this kind of instantaneous and interconnectedness of communities.

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I’m watching you

From the walls of Pompeii to the modern day walls of Facebook and Twitter, we see data being preserved, stored and the idea that we are all information generators regardless of what year, decade or even century we are in. The thriving Roman city was buried under 4m of ash preserving an entire city as it was. When uncovered, historians we able to view the traces of the lost city.

Until recently, data remained largely invisible due to insufficient storage and sharing media however, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites where data can make this information visible, tends to outlive its generators. Just think, have you ever been to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, restaurant, local supermarket or any retail store where you have not had to fill in paperwork or been encouraged to sign up for loyalty programs? These businesses are storing every piece of data they can about you in the chance it might be useful in the future.

The centre of distribution is being displaced from traditional studios to online dialogic media forms(e.g YouTube) and with produsers moving more fluidly between roles of producer, sharer and content creator, the value is not in a single product but in the conversation.

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What is astonishing though is that everything we do can and will be captured. I have witness this first hand with the notion of surveillance, matching store purchases to Facebook user profiles and therefore relevant advertisements. Many times I have posted an image, video or status and within 24 hours, companies have included their ads on the side of my profile. The larger the data flow it seems the more patterns there are to observe.

While we want to share some data, we also want to retain a personal space. Bruce Schneier’s taxonomy of social networking data categorises data as:

*Service data- data you need to give to a social networking site in order to use it such as your legal name and age
*Disclosed data- data you post on your own pages e.g blog posts, messages, comments, photographs
*Entrusted data- what you post on other people’s pages. Someone else has control
*Incidental data- data other people post about you
*Behavioural data- data that the site collects about your habits by recording what you do and who you do it with

We all want secure service data, consent for use of incidental and behavioural data and control over disclosed and entrusted data, yet the cost associated with such privacy is sometimes unknown. Active resistance to such data accumulation has resulted in some cases of protest for example #camover in which groups remove and destroy security cameras.

I believe that unless our personal data is used in the wrong way or gets into the wrong hands, there is no reason not to store everything. It makes sense as it is cheaper than deleting it, and may actually be of use to someone in the future. It is only when people begin to take advantage of and misuse the data that things can get out of hand.

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Time for a quiet reflection

While following Skype during my study, it has come to my attention just how integral the platform has become in our modern, dialogic society. Most interestingly, it has aided and assisted in education, communicating and creating a story. Skype provides a means for transmedia storytelling, as integral elements of a story get systematically dispersed across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated experience. As is shown in my Transmedia Narratives blog, the more points of entry to the story the more options for audiences to engage. Transmedia stories are about building a world and Skype helps to create this world. For example, a media story is broadcast through a range of mediums including Skype in news reports. As I am quite lazy and like my story told to me completely in one easy spot to find, the idea of transmedia narratives did not attract my interest the slightest. However, that stance quickly changed as assignment after assignment began to pile up, proving to me that without transmedia storytelling it is quite impossible to gain a well-rounded concept of anything really.

As local content can mutate into another local content (eg. music) and can gain unpredictable meanings, we see the rise of the Remix Culture. It encompasses everything we have learnt in convergent media practices. Music sampling and the rise of the remix culture creates yet another element to the transmedia narrative of music creation and consumption. It is a technology for expression which takes something, does it better then teaches how it was done better. Remixing and mashups are a perfect example of the “medium becoming the message”. As the medium has changed, so has the message. Remixing is not strictly binary however does incorporate the notions of copyright, intellectual property, commons and also old mediums living embedded in a new platform (e.g. the vinyl) ultimately creating a new message. The remix ideology combines many aspects of what we have learnt and was one of the most compelling topics as it shows the role and importance of convergent media.

It is fascinating how as the weeks have passed, every topic seems to be merging and linking with the previous ones. Again the notion of transmedia is embedded in my Occupy this! blog post. The quote from Ashley Moloney, “While today’s youth may vocalise some constructive ideas and values via social media, they lack the courage to do anything more than update their Facebook status” I believe captured the essence of today’s social media society perfectly. But it all comes back to creating the transmedia story. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are just another entry point, nothing less than a movie or book. As was highlighted with the ‘We are the 99%‘ Tumblr blog. This social media and political mobilisation topic was extremely engaging and forced me to think about my own political activeness, or rather lack of.

I believe I have gained a wealth of knowledge in my first 10 weeks at University and can only learn more. My best blogs are Transmedia narratives, Remix culture and Occupy this! as they all interrelate and link very nicely with one another. I understood and found these topics the most intriguing as they made me critically think and reflect on myself about how it affects myself. While each topic and therefore each of these three blog posts have their own principles, all return the the basis of convergent media practices.
Convergence-Smartphones

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You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman

It is amazing how naive and oblivious I have been to the obvious gender gap within the online community. I thought, compared to say, a decade ago, that our society had come a long way in terms of gender equality. And it has, but nowhere near as far as what I thought.

Spender stated in 1997 that women were under-represented in computer science training, a lack of women in decision making capacities and that there was a macho culture surrounding the online community. Fast forward 15 years and we see how things have changed. Women now have a presence online, with many blogging, publishing and interacting. Number of women in decision-making, powerful role is significantly lower than their male counterpart

However, the gender gap is still ever present. Business Insider’s Top 10 Most Influential People Online, only one female makes the cut coming in at #5: Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post. From 2002 until 2010, the number of women directors of the top 200 companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) rose by only 0.2%. However, a considerable improvement in the 2012 Census reveals that 12.3% of directors of ASX 200 companies are women. Although the gender gap is still prevalent, and I think always will be, there have been major leaps in closing that gap.

We see how feminism online has pushed for changed through the use of media platforms, possibly facilitating such changes previously stated. Sites and movements such as Donglegate, Destroy the Joint, The Hoopla and The Anti-Bogan have provided a means for speaking up and talking back.

misogyny
While media can be a platform for feminism and gender equality encouragement, it can also be a platform for vocalizing misogynistic views and trolling. As the anonymity of trolling creates a chilling effect with their extreme opinions and comments, causes in some cases, bloggers and content publishers to disable comments. It is these cave-man like attitudes towards women which created the 2011 Twitter campaign #mencallmethings. This campaign highlighted the abusive misogynist trolling towards women.

While such misogynistic beliefs are up to the individual, the media and media personalities do in fact have a great role to play in how those beliefs are shaped. Take Kyle Sandilands for example. The radio shock jock has a large viewing audience and therefore his opinions reach a large number of people. Sandilands sparked controversy when he said of News Limited journalist Alison Stephenson:

“You’re a piece of shit. This low thing, Alison Stephenson, deputy editor of news.com.au online. You’re supposed to be impartial, you little troll…. You’re a bullshit artist, girl. You should be fired from your job… Watch your mouth or I’ll hunt you down.” He also called Ms Stephenson a “fat bitter thing” and attacked her hairstyle and breast size.

Writing on a topic which is bound to offend or stir up some pretty controversial opinions is difficult to do. I found myself cautiously thinking about what to type and how to phrase my thoughts. It seems everybody has quite a unique view when it comes to feminism and women’s online presence, but I hope that we call all agree on the fact there is no place for such vicious and misogynistic attacks online, directed at women or men.

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Occupy this!

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Youth and politics. Not two words I would naturally put next to each other. While we should be active and informed citizens, there is a worldwide trend in youth disengagement from traditional politics, the reasons being that collective identifications are being replaced through processes of individualism, less economic security for youth and the fact that politicians are disengaged from young people’s problems.

The convenience of following a cause online has led some to criticize the rise of clicktivism. Ashley Moloney, a 22-year-old business consultant, says young people share political causes online to earn approval from friends but have no desire to effect meaningful change.
“While today’s youth may vocalize some constructive ideas and values via social media, they lack the courage to do anything more than update their Facebook status,” Moloney says. She says online activism is invariably linked to offline conversations and the search for more information.

We see how social media has played a significant role in protests and movements, for example the Indignados Movement. There were several online movements in the months before the May 15 public protest, however these did not materialize onto the streets. The movement stemmed from its innovative use of social media as a vehicle for mobilization, showing that while young people may seem to be involved in current events and politics only online, it creates conversation and interest in the issue, which usually gains support and actualizes in real life on the streets.

Occupy Wall Street poster

Occupy Wall Street poster


Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was the name given to a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district. The ensuing series of events helped lead to media awareness that inspired Occupy protests and movements around the world. However, what is interesting is that the movement started online, as you can see in the protest’s campaign poster with the #occupywallstreet but did not gain support until people were actually rallying in real life. The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, We Are The 99%, refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. The protest poster did not resonate with the public and it wasn’t until Tumblr blog: We are the 99%, that people connected, through others accounts of why they are the 99%, making the whole movement real and relate able.

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Remix culture

DJ Earworm is a San Francisco-based mash up artist who has achieved recognition for his technically sophisticated, songwriting oriented music and video mash ups. His annual “United State of Pop” mash ups, contain short mixes featuring the top 25 songs of the year according to Billboard magazine. The rise of the remix culture has paved the way for many unique artists that take sections of a number of original songs to form a completely new musical compilation. DJ Earworm is a perfect example of how the culture towards remixing has changed and is becoming a democratising culture, one which is available and accessible to anybody with diverse options.

Music sampling and the rise of the remix culture foresees that technology is a means for expression and that audiences don’t just want to be a listener anymore. Remix culture facilitates people, mainly amateurs, taking original music pieces, mixing it and sometimes doing it better and teaching how they did it better. As Lawrence Lessig states “Instead, they (or at least the “young people of the day”) add to the culture they read by creating and re-creating the culture around them. They do this re- creating using the same tools the professional uses— the “pianos, violins, guitars, mandolins, and banjos”— as well as tools given to them by nature— “vocal cords.” John Philip Sousa, one of America’s favorite composers, “feared that this Read-Write culture would disappear, be displaced by— to continue the geek- speak metaphor—an increasingly “Read/Only” (“RO”) culture: a culture less practiced in performance, or amateur creativity, and more comfortable (think: couch) with simple consumption. The certain types of technologies used to remix have certain kinds of affordances, making it harder or easier to do certain types of things, for example particular kinds of interfaces invite you or dis-invite you to engage.

The emergence of peer-to-peer file sharing in 2001 directly coincides with the formation of ‘Breakcore’ We can hear the sequencing of electronic beats compiled and how perhaps the most sampled six seconds of music in digital history, the ‘Amen Break’ is embedded into Breakcore music.

So how should we think about remix? Not as strictly binary, as it integrates the aspects of emerging subcultures and exploits the affordances of technology. It has aided in the collapse or disintegration of distinction between consumption and production and has paved the way for the modern day produser. As both amateur and professional music producers compile such remixes and song mash ups, the issue of copyright and intellectual property does pop up. However, free cultures such as Netlabels see culture as a whole continuum of practice and create a common that understands a song is not a piece of property.

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