Narrative

BCM311 Reflection

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When writing for a blog which I aligned with university and used as an academic showcase never did I think I’d be talking about myself. As a performance audition successful applicant to graduating with a Bachelor of Communications and Media degree, this university thing we are encouraged to do has allowed me to be looking into fields that aren’t an actual title yet. To work with people that have skill-sets beyond our imagination yet the opportunity to collaborate and create trajectories that will change the world, one class that I’m going to share my thoughts on is a class that 14 weeks ago I was never going to take, and now rate with the reason I can safely say, it’s going to be okay leaving.

This is an excerpt from an essay I just wrote concerning the changing nature we face as a collective on the future of work. Now I say collective with the focus of University students. With changing situations, values and narratives coming from student situations this semester I was able to reflect on my own situation. I was able to interview someone whom I’ve formed close friendship with simply because of similar mindsets, and completed a class that tempted (without success) the idea of honours, simply because I’m not afraid to own my achievements.

To reflect and theorise on the trajectory of a professional career, firstly a focus must be shown on an individual value. Perhaps the most interesting method to understand and self-reflect is to approach a stranger, or person that isn’t well-known personally, but who you feel you can relate to and contribute with. This was a key moment when I was personally trying to understand the way working professionally has shifted from permanent to ‘gig’-like and what I then have to consider moving forward. I personally believe this model can be applied to a lot of disciplines and is perhaps why I personally resonated with the way of thinking. I approached a professional who has taught me a design thinking mindset within a tertiary setting. The opportunity to reflect on some of my glorious failures within a university atmosphere that isn’t focused on much else moving forward besides statistical marks, was liberating when he detailed that he wants to see more like this. Being able to publish works that haven’t worked and actively build on them with real world application feedback will showcase a head start into what he believes is the future of work for my degree, and that others should take note. I would submit an assignment with the outcome a failure, but the ability to then reflect on why it failed and apply it to the next prototype would infact be a method of teaching that resonates with entrepreneurial qualities. Now, interestingly enough, when on the verge of leaving the institution, I’m showcased to narrative practices and forming a connection with my own values and experience near narrative to shape my direction. The idea of telling my story of a series of events about how I got to a position within a engineering focused future, wasn’t how established norm would have cracked a market. For context, I’m a media and communications student trying to crack a niche market in drone technology, whereby I built a custom prototype using YouTube and Online forums to then pitch to engineering companies. Already, this isn’t an orthodox mix, however this very value of unorthodox practices has allowed opportunity within organisations that haven’t yet recognised the need for reflective practice.

BCM311 allows students the freedom the workplace and real life throws at you. Submission deadlines, class absence, safe spaces and perhaps attitudes towards hard work were all major stand out points that made this experience a refreshing time. Everything that the inertia scares me about the longevity of certain changes to work, this class compliments. I’ve never been too personal about life and detailed a lot, but it’s simply because I thought it fell under that inertia bracket of “professional VS. personal”.

Where the future of work is headed is simply the understanding of both within the workplace. Everyone has a story, and narrative practice simply gives the humility in people a chance to resonate and act on. We in media and communications sometimes seem unneeded in some disciplines, however we’re amongst the first implementing this narrative practice along with psychology. I’ll be the first to promote the awareness and addressing of mental health in the workplace from engineering, healthcare and the arts. The sustainability of the future of working environments relies on peoples well-being, and narrative reflection, practice and methodology starts with myself, as a media practitioner with the skills now in listening for these values in another person. It’s a gift, and it’s apart of a CV of achievements. I hope I can help others like I’ve always wanted to, and this gives me another foot in the door.

It’s been a pleasure, and not one drone was harmed in the completion of this class.

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Academic Narrative Review: Opportunity & Obligation // TEDx // Casey Neistat

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Casey Neistat  2015, High school stories | Casey Neistat | TEDxParkerSchool, TEDx Talks, YouTube, Online Video, Published January 29, viewed 11th, 12th 14th, 16th, 20th August 2017, Available via <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ayTA-tJr3A&gt;

“Opportunity and Obligation” (C Neistat, 2015)

The beauty of narrative for me personally, is the many forms it can take that include storytelling in film, experience, nostalgia and trajectory. The versatility in our ability to share narratives creates new meaning to things we take for granted, and I’d like to share an academic video response that looks at one man’s narrative that has defined his professional context, that compliments ideals and themes covered within a tertiary environment. Through a narrative reflection, value of experience is highlighted as a key feature to understand the ecosystem we find ourselves in when speculating the future of work.  

“If I were a student…What could I hear that would affect me or what would I want to hear…” (C Neistat, 2015, 0:55)

This follows a discussion I opened up in relevance to Steve Jobs and a speech he gave about his life at a university graduation. It was interesting to hear Casey right at the start of his speech, talk about how he could have showcased his success and perhaps tips on how he feels about certain topics within his profession, but instead chooses to open up about what he thinks he (and ultimately his audience) want to hear. This direct quote stuck with me, and made me reflect on Lumen5, a platform that causes its user and the audience of the film to pay close attention to the details of a section of writing. What words resonate with different people, a really great insight into how we can apply this mode of thinking into motivational speech.

Casey Neistat is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, YouTuber and a father. Like great entrepreneurs before him, he never attended higher education to achieve his dreams or to excel in fields where the training would have served well to an established line of work. He gives a talk with TEDx, Technology, Entertainment and Design, about his own life and how his stride for efficiency allowed him to see opportunity perhaps when he didn’t even realise. Casey Neistat began his career with a hybrid mix of ‘gonzo journalism, guerilla filmmaking and cinema verite. He’s captured these elements working in a professional practise and then applied them to his daily vlogs. Cinema Verite often makes its way into the films or apart of the story, and Neistat takes this further by always showcasing his equipment and his work area giving them their own stigma in the videos he produces. Each of the devices he shoots with have it’s own story, his drones have a certain aesthetic or feeling behind them, to when he films on his iPhone that’s raw and seemingly unedited in the process. He’s allowed himself to develop stories from his past and essence that craftsmanship of narrative into his videos so that as an audience to his career we feel like he’s motivating us to grab any opportunity big or small, equipment professional standard or not. 

“Those opportunities where in the moment, I couldn’t have told you they were opportunities” (C Neistat, 2015, 11:40)

This resonates quite heavily with me as a moment of reflection and contemplation. When asked to think of a memory or a narrative of my own, I mentioned that, “give attention to detail of the experience I’m having and will have”. Now, this quote from Casey I love to reconnect with the idea that I’m trying to give a greater focus on the opportunities life is giving me, and that is evident in my story about taking an advanced seminar class, despite having limited confidence when writing academically, subject to the description. He further discusses how the distinct difference between recklessness and fearlessness can promote the positive outcome. Perhaps another resonating feature this theme carries into is the idea of experience-near narrative. His family, his peers, and his Hollywood manager at one point in his highly successful career all disagreed with his decision to throw away years of “comfort” in the filmmaking space for a risk at daily vlogging (video blogging) on YouTube, a platform renowned for viral videos and unprofessionalism in aesthetic, however his momentum with his own local understanding allowed him to excel.

His core value sits very similar to the right way to approach this class and definitely this degree. If more content creatives were to just start with whatever they could get their hands on at the time and post professionally about what they’re passionate about then we’d start seeing the fears of work after study start to disappear. We’d start to build portfolios and this resonates with me, as I love to document new things and try new things and see where the creation leads to. My practise at the moment is that I want to work in a field using drone technology to encourage people to interact with them and push the boundaries of what kind of uses they hold, whether it be creative or assistance to helping people or even artistic.

“When I look back at the trajectory of my career and the larger scale of my life, I see every time there was a pivot point, now, in retrospect…it’s easy to look back and see where the opportunity was…when I scratch the surface a little bit more…in the moment the opportunity was never really clear, and I think that in itself, is what opportunity is” (C Neistat, 2015, 1:23)

Some of the motivation he carries and advice he gives on cracking this field isn’t a guide that everyone should follow, it’s inspiration based on his experience. His core values are simple in that “being fearless rather than reckless” is the most important part, crediting his success in his passion to tell a story. His viral sensations that escalated his career were both shot on devices he could afford at the time, a camcorder and a mobile phone.

TEDx talks usually require a script with a prompter in front of the speaker, this is something Casey doesn’t require in this video, instead talking with real auto-ethnography which allow myself especially to empathise heavily. An idea, that has been discussed in a classroom setting, is the emphasis we make on words and how reflection enables recognition. This story of how Casey Neistat allows himself to be subject to opportunity because he can reflect on steps taken that perhaps haven’t been orthodox, allows me as a media and communication professional to practise listening and applying this to my own past, present and future. Through his unique storytelling, I’m able to attract my own attention into values that I hold in high esteem to myself, and that is staying prepared and taking every opportunity. Casey addresses the notion of absent but implicit when reflecting on how “we have won the lottery on life”, implying that we are simply born into a world without choice, some however are born into a life of misery. He denotes that this isn’t relative, with exception, that he never understood this until he experienced life in a third world country. Living conditions there allowed him to understand his own obligation to grab every possible opportunity, to allow him to draw out every value in these individuals grievance. A showcase in his core values, that he is able to see their complaints and situations, to then take back and reflect, with perspective, how he can leverage his success.

Through my reflection and critical understanding of this resource, I allow myself to introduce others to the same practise and share my stories within a university setting that allows that obligation I accept looking forward. Something interesting Casey leaves us with, is the perspective on life he has due to a decision he made earlier in his career, much similar to an exercise I’ve recently reflected on. It’s an opportunity for a filmmaking project that he initially turned down, due to a lack of interest in the commercial viability. He takes us on therapeutic narrative about how the opportunity went behind him, but to help those less fortunate in life’s unpleasant nature. He could reflect his life so distinctly, and so coherently, that he could now leverage that life experience into helping others. That is the future of narrative in a professional practise, and that’s the future of media work. This TEDx video allows us as leaders of tomorrow, to inspire hope for our own future practise.  

Media Narratives: So far…

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drones-featured-image-v2The way an audience uses everyday places, devices, networks and interaction between these amongst themselves creates a narrative or story that allow the media “space” to be conceptualised as a research practise. The term “media space” doesn’t refer to a fixed or material object, but a collection of links to news, current events, photo/video/audio, opinion and anything branched out from these that allow the user to control their intake of information distributed by means of the internet and Legacy mediums. Wendy Mackay introduces the media space in terms of multimedia interactions and details “…(The) World Wide Web have transformed work, enabling people to work together, even when they live in different countries and in different time zones.”(W.E Mackay, 1999) This resonates highly with my interest and own narrative with video interactions and multiple uses for them in the ways humans co-exist with technological evolution.

Wifi, Bluetooth and ever improving video link technologies to devices such as smartphones, tablets and even watches, 360 degree video and virtual reality (VR) headsets have allowed media spaces to be interacted and explored through a visual medium that encourages a disembodiment gaze idea of a space. This is something I’ve investigated and taken upon in an area of study, whereby the intended or commercial market of these technologies can be applied to all areas of observation and surveillance.

I’m fascinated with the emergence of drone technology and the new ways aerial space is being explored with fixed cameras. The ethical considerations with the audience and user generating the content as well as the narratives that come out of their commercial use. From their intentional, speculative, regulatory, definitional, historical, contemporary and aesthetical narratives, the drone has gained a wide, divided viewpoint from the public about how they can attain regulation and be an accepted medium for uses limited to the imagination.

vr drone

vr sam

When technologies integrate and respond to one another they’re trajectory can be fitted to human interaction as a cyber-cultural extension to a narrative that has to take into account robotic law and policy. Live feed video attached to for example a First Person View (FPV) headset allows the user to gain a new perspective into the media space which could provide raw and un-edited images of war/peace aesthetic and catastrophe. The way audiences respond to a visual medium can be interesting and VR capabilities and Drone perspectives is how I’ve got to where I am today in terms of the way I respond and interact with the media space. It has allowed me to think differently about career options in terms of taking these devices within a media space and applying them somewhere different and reflecting on the information and new ideas that flow with new technologies.

I enjoy the task of educating and challenging set norms of old technological minds, and explaining the ways in which the fear of robotic type media exposure isn’t a new phase. Every new technology has a speculative mythos, and through my own narrative with these technologies, I’ve found myself intrigued as to how new devices can improve the understanding of a medium.

Chris Moore, 2016, #dronestories, prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 3rd May 2016, viewed 5th May 2016, <https://prezi.com/b9fp3pnjfqew/dronestories/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&gt;

Mackay, W.E., 1999. Media spaces: environments for informal multimedia interaction. Computer Supported Co-operative Work7, pp.55-82.