Between exhibition and contemplation: considering everyday routines on Blipfoto

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Slides presented at Helsinki Photomedia 2014: Photographic powers, held 26-28 March 2014, Aalto University, Finland on the everyday routines of members of the Blipfoto online community (http://blipfoto.com).

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Between exhibition and contemplation: considering everyday routines on Blipfoto

  1. 1. Between Exhibition and Contemplation: considering everyday routines on Blipfoto Dr Eve Forrest and Professor Hazel Hall Centre for Social Informatics Edinburgh Napier University, UK @eveforrest @hazelh Paper presented at Helsinki Photomedia 2014: Photographic powers. 26-28 March 2014, Aalto University, Finland.
  2. 2. Sharing is caring… Photograph sharing practices through the ages clockwise L-R: The Victorian Cartes de Visites, The Polaroid, Images from ‘Dear Photograph’, Ellen’s Oscar Selfie, the most tweeted image so far in Twitter history
  3. 3. Tim Ingold: Movement and the Meshwork Ingold (2008) believes that the dominance of networks, where the emphasis is put on the direct connections between people and things is flawed Entanglement and habitation along the trails of everyday life is messier than simple straight connecting lines and is more akin to a knotted meshwork of lines ‘To me, as a relatively inexperienced user, navigating the internet is a matter of activating a sequence of links that take me... from site to site. Travel through cyberspace thus resembles transport. Experienced users, however, tell me that... they follow trails like wayfarers... for them, the web may seem more like a mesh than a net. How we should understand ‘movement’ through the internet is an interesting question’ (Ingold, 2011:249) Travel and the digital wayfarer (Pink, 2013) connected to photography
  4. 4. Some old practices, some new routines? Photographs as objects Sharing of images has always been popular technology makes this a more common and flexible pursuit ‘new technology both replicates and extends prior social uses of personal photos’ (Van House, 2007:5) Orality of photography (Langford, 2008) – telling of stories important with physical images where we try to add context to our personal images ‘new technology both replicates and extends prior social uses of personal photos’ (Van House, 2007:5)
  5. 5. Methods Call put out via the blog/forums on Blipfoto Focus group organised with local (Edinburgh) Blippers in a city centre location Skype-type interviews Caveat: self selection! (of age, gender, socio-economic group)
  6. 6. Blip taken at the focus group
  7. 7. Blipfoto Animation via colour Space and layout One photo per day constriction
  8. 8. Blipfoto: contrasts and tensions Private/Public Anonymity/Openness Words/Pictures Yourself/Others Today/Tomorrow Life /Death
  9. 9. Public/Private ‘I am totally anonymous on Blip none of my friends know I blip …but on Facebook I am totally open. The only people who know I blip are friends that I have met on there…I quite like the anonymity of that’ (Blipper 2) ‘I have never thought about it as public/private’ (Blipper 4) ‘I am not identified on Blip…its not that that I am trying to be secretive but I just wish to anonymous on there’ (Blipper 6) ‘But there is a thing about following someone’s life ….recently one person I followed got engaged …and I had to look back through her journal and thought when did this start happening?!’ (Blipper 7) ‘I won’t put people or family on Blip’ (Blipper 1)
  10. 10. Words/Pictures ‘Comments can be an extension of my real world communications… if I read something that I really enjoy because it is about the text as well, then I will make a comment. If I say great photo then I will mean it!’ (Blipper 6) ‘The commenting between me and the people that I know is another level of commenting, it is much more of a conversation because people who know a bit about your life’ (Blipper 7) ‘Perhaps there is 2 ways of commenting …I comment but not in a deep and meaningful way but I don’t mind saying nice things!...it is about preserving that community feeling its about how to behave and the protocol. I would rather people we nice than say something critical’ (Blipper 1)
  11. 11. Yourself/Others ‘I’m sharing but I am very much doing the photos for myself … I am a hobby photographer’ (Blipper 4) ‘It is the photo plus the text so it is a record of my life plus those of other people, in that moment in time and that place… we are connected through the site and sort of running parallel with lots of other people’ (Blipper 1) ‘I have always kept a diary…but last year was the only year I did not keep a diary but I was keeping the blip journal instead’ (Blipper 7) ‘When I was away from my wife and family [Blip] became a communication tool … as well a personal moment for me’ (Blipper 6)
  12. 12. Today/Tomorrow ‘[There was] a desire to do a more formal record of each day…I photograph every day [my camera] stays in my pocket, to [her husbands] frustration! I don't use Flickr or Smugmug in the same way but I do use a couple of blogs like that’ (Blipper 8) ‘You can look back on something that happened a year ago or seven years ago and you go wow! I have got diaries that have appointments in them but they don’t have a physical image of something I looked at that day …. It suddenly brings back what you did that day’ (Blipper 5)
  13. 13. Life/Death ‘I realise how much I value looking back at a continuous archive of memories I have created’ (Blipper 6) ‘The day that a woman in the South of France I followed died: suddenly all you got was her camera on Blip and a story from her family to say that she had died the day before. This is someone that I had never met, never talked to but it was very, very personal’ (Blipper 7) ‘I am doing it as a historical record …it’s actually an amazing resource that will be there forever’ (Blipper 2)
  14. 14. Routes and Routines Blipfoto both becomes part of routine and disrupts everyday routines Many participants Blip everyday More linear structure of day to day uploads Structured interaction with the site, visiting same people and places online – not as much browsing Connections through cohorts
  15. 15. Routes and Routines ‘It’s something to do every day…you know that day is going to be crap because you are going to be in the office all day so you try and get something on the way to work so ‘at least I have got one’ (Blipper 5) ‘I tend to be logged in on my phone all the time but only log in to upload a photo once or twice a week on average’ (Blipper 9) ‘I have three modes of engagement on Blip. There is posting my picture on blip which is actually quite functional I’ll take the time to upload it, write my bit then go do something else. The second is a set of journals that I follow with other blogs and things and I usually read through them on my phone or on the bus in some dead time and catch up with what is going on. The third is in idle moments I will just browse.’ (Blipper, 6)
  16. 16. Routes and Routines ‘[Blip] has encouraged me to have my camera with me more. I get disappointed if I see a good shot but can't take it’ (Blipper 9) ‘I have never missed a day …and never back blipped but the problem is, that makes me obsessive! I put up the blip, automatically go and look at my subscribers and then if I have time I will got through them and give them all a comment’ Blipper 3) ‘I usually use the PC , if I have to I have time, I check other pics then load mine. There are a few I always check [but] not everyone…the site has fitted into my routine’ (Blipper 8)
  17. 17. Discussion Points Contemplation and Exhibition – Blipfoto is a site of contrasts Users tend to follow the same daily routes in and out of the site Its habitual use has a profound effect on users daily routines too and they invest a lot of time in the site More than photography: text beside the photo can add extra depth to the journal from both the user and subscribers point of view ‘The media become most significant and successful when they become an integral part of taken-for-granted daily life’ (Paddy Scannell) Blipfoto is an important place within the everyday lives of users of the site
  18. 18. Thanks Blippers Leanne and Graham at Blipfoto Find us on Blipfoto and Twitter: www.blipfoto.com/evef @eveforrest www.blipfoto.com/hazelh @hazelh

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