Punctuation on social media: the hashtag as exclamation mark

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#HASHTAG by Petit Louis (CC-BY-2.0)

Last weekend, I finally got around to changing the light bulb over my front porch, after it had been out for several weeks. As I stepped down from the ladder, pleased with myself for having dealt with what had been annoying and inconvenient I said, “hashtag gettin’ stuff done”. (If this looks unfamiliar, perhaps #gettinstuffdone might resonate.)

In that moment, I realised the hashtag had become exclamation mark. Continue reading

Life online: Social media as autobiography

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Gathering by JD Hancock (CC-BY-2.0)

We usually think of an autobiography as a substantial piece of work written by a noteworthy person later in their life or after they’ve experienced a significant life event. They write their autobiography after having accumulated some life experience and they generally know the outcome of the story, to a point. They write with the benefit of hindsight and the story they tell reveals their personal development over time. In this sense, we think of autobiography as an outcome. Continue reading

Guy behind the guitar

We head to licensed venues to relax and socialise. Tucked in the corner of a venue is often a solitary guy or girl playing the guitar and singing. Frequently, it seems the audience does not notice them. Guy behind the guitar seeks to tell the story of a Canberra-based, full-time musician. The dichotomy of having a public profile, but at the same time not having one is, in the age of celebrity, an interesting state. Continue reading

Local democracy: It’s up to us

They say a week is a long time in politics. Five weeks is probably an eternity. I wrote the below piece in early January. Much has changed since. New South Wales has a new premier and one can speculate that the angst around local government reform may have had a hand in that. We’ve had a lot of backtracking since.

Pending local government amalgamations in Sydney will proceed, subject to the outcomes of court action, but those pending in regional areas will be abandoned. Mergers that have already occurred will remain in place.

This is an example of the democratic process at work. Continue reading

Crowdfunding: a democratising power, or is it?

Civic crowdfunding – a subset of crowdfunding – has democratising power, or not, depending on how it’s structured and used.

Prior to researching for this post and the video below, I was mostly only aware of crowdfunding’s use in kick starting business start-ups – often technology based – and for charitable causes, often supporting individuals with serious medical conditions. Civic crowdfunding is somewhat new, intriguing and understudied. Continue reading

I thought you’d be taller: examining online identity

I’m not tall, nor am I particularly short – about average, really.

‘I thought you’d be taller’ harks back to the days before digital media, said to movie stars or television personalities by us common folk, who happened to stumble across them. There was commercial advantage in having the media of the day represent a slightly enhanced version of themselves.

Celebrity culture has been changed by ‘a more interactive matrix of online behaviours in Web 2.0, characterized by social networking, audio-visual representation, and everyday tools for creative expression’ (Cover, 2014, p. 56).

Rather than being represented by traditional media, celebrities use new media to engage in self-presentation (Marshall, 2010). What’s more, we are celebrifying ourselves. Marshall suggests celebrities have taught us how. Continue reading