Research Project Update

My research project has prominently stayed quite focused in terms of the base line idea, that being the concerns and interests of a potential carpooling app for UOW students specifically.

This project aims to communicate with a variety of students looking for their opinions on how the app can be designed to better suit the diverse mix of students that attend classes on campus.

Initially I intended to conduct a wide spread survey simply asking if an app like this was available would they use it. Secondly I would use focus groups for more discussion and even further still would conduct one on one interviews

I hoped to gain a large portion of information via social media and focus groups. However this could lead to a research project that wasn’t spanning a wide enough variety with less personal experience and opinion in the mix. Students in my social network may not give insight into aspects that most may not consider and I feel as though focus groups can lead to good discussion however may fail to dig deeper for more unexpected concerns.

I have changed my plan to concentrate less on focus groups (only conducting one for question material) to direct the project towards interviews, since I feel the data may be more personal and in depth.

After a brief discussion with a fellow student regarding my concerns with the diversity of my participants, they encouraged me to find participants from clubs and groups that may broaden the dialogue.

One group that I am keen to use in my research is differently abled people as well as people from the queer community.

I find both these groups seem to be often set aside and forgotten, as they are a minority. However their concerns regarding the app will be incredibly important if not more than the general public of UOW students since they already may have concerns uncommon already. I think these discussions will bring to light concerns I had not even considered, which I hope can promote awareness for others.

Differently abled participants might be hard to come by and the discussion itself will need to be taken with caution due to the sensitive nature of their disability.

From my understanding there is a queer space at UOW that is open to all. I hope to find queer participants here and amongst friends.

I understand I will need to approach the discussion with caution as a queer identity can be a sensitive topic and the last thing I want to do is bombard someone with my research project on the spot

For both these groups being approached by a stranger to discuss very personal aspects of themselves might be quite confronting. My intention is to approach with caution and explain the project openly without attacking them with information.

The direction of the project will be difficult to promote via social media, my best option is to head out into the field and approach potential interviewees face to face. So far I have asked friends to ask others if they will be willing to participate, particularly finding those who identify as queer or are differently abled. Although this will be a slow process and may not lead to many participants, I feel this approach will be more effective in conjunction with social media requests for participation

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Research Proposal – UOW Transport

A multi faceted issue that most University attendants will have whether they are fresh out of high school, experienced students, or practiced faculty is transport. Namingly the excess, cost and availability of parking, and environmental impact

In most recent years the university grounds have been a warzone of space and opportuneness. Calculating ones trip now requires a degree in city planning and mid-traffic merging (not offered at UOW Autumn 2018) in order to navigate the highly congested streets and highways surrounding the campus.

Local RMS workers have been forced to direct traffic out and then back into the property via uncommon routes in order to subdue the overcrowding, and yet traffic still overflows from motorway off ramps onto already highly populated thoroughfares

 

This issue is dangerous, affecting stressed students and staff attempting to enter the campus as well as higher risk to pedestrians. Solutions seem simple  such as new parking lots however effective are costly and management of traffic as many have noticed can only do so much. Most attendants whether they are driving, carpooling or taking public transport are all effected by these issues as well as the surrounding environment from increase carbon emission in highly concentrated areas.

The smaller question I wish to answer through my research will be whether a carpooling app will be effective in reducing high congestion and pollution and whether will students use it

 

In order to study how widespread the issue is I will need to conduct surveys as well as researching the impacts of similar matters. I intend to research areas that have been affected by congestion of traffic in a more widespread concern; high traffic areas in main cities that have documented affects

This research paper discusses the issues brought on high traffic areas often with higher severity in ‘major employment nodes’ such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The article highlights the congestion on particular days and times as well as the correlating pollution effects
Problems in the urban environment: traffic congestion and its effects

 

As a supporting source I will gain data from research conducted at the location via the UOW transport surveys.
These surveys document the volume of traffic for a 2-week period at the beginning of semester. The survey took note of cars entering through certain areas as well as the number of passengers. This information could highlight what car parks are most popular and at what times, as well as the choice of carpooling.
The surveys aimed to use the data acquired to assess the increase in traffic around the university compared to previous years, in turn promoting solutions.

In previous years the survey was conducted by students employed by the university, which allowed communication between student and faculty in an area that affected both. As well as promoting sustainable thinking as the survey process was made visible to observers.
I was part of the survey team in 2013 and 2014, I found the regular surveys of the university to be effective in documenting the congestion allowing the information to be used later to better adapt the university to the increasing use of the area.
In 2015 and onwards an external company was used to conduct the survey by using information from previous and comparing the data to more recent years I hope to document the increase of traffic

With conjunction with surveys from students I hope to show both a quantitative and qualitative measure of the issue highlighting how the issue ha become so great that attendants have noticed a huge increase

 

The survey summary attached highlights how the carpool (3 or more) and ride sharing (driver and passenger) have continued to increase with each transport survey, even more so after the introduction of the carpooling car park in 2013
University of Wollongong ; Transport Survey 2015 – Survey and Strategy Summary

And finally I will survey student affected by the matter first hand and how hey feel the issue is being resolved
By procuring first hand accounts of the affects of traffic on student stress I hope to find test if certain solution seem promising to students. The qualitative information should show well-rounded research development and hopefully show a clear line to a resolution.
I hope to come up with a solution in order to narrow down the participant and findings. Once obtain I shall organise the data into a more digestible format

I will gain information from student acquired more easily and effectively using technology See; MILLENNIALS: TECHNOLOGY = SOCIAL CONNECTION

By surveying students via social media platforms I intent to communicate with my potential participants through a medium they prefer.The study discusses how Gen Z are choosing social media platforms of physical communication which is also constantly available to them

The study discusses how even in the most private scenarios like using the toilet, users don’t restrict their access due to bodily functions. They will continue to use their devices regardless of being in a private or public bathroom, an act that would seem so unusual for generation prior. This only proves that the best method of discussing and documenting the thoughts of people affected by the issue of transport of university is to communicate with them through means of their preference

Quite the Conundrum

Student Exchange challenges vs the effects of limited parking (environmental, congestion, accessibility)

I am quite torn between two topics that both affect me greatly.
One being the challenges of exchange student and another as the effects of limited parking on UOW campus

Having recently returned from a year abroad I hold my exchange experience close to my heart. Most likely because of how well connected I felt to the university and local and exchange students, made easier by programs, experiences and support offered by the University. I would like to research if offered would similar programs be accepted by local student of UOW to not simply take exchange students under their wings but become close friends and almost family

I feel a positive draw towards identifying an issue in for exchange students in terms of feeling welcome getting involved and more importantly getting the community involved in outside cultures a, allowing the students to share and feel important

On the other hand I have strong feelings towards the issues of limited parking at UOW however they are not positive.
As most student at UOW will be aware the lack of parking comparative to the number of students is inadequate, leading to many issues of congestion, accessibility, pollution and frustration

This does not encourage productivity in classes when you’ve arrive half a hour late because you’ve been circling every parking lot hoping for a space, especially when this occurs when the first classes of the day have only just begun

As you can see from my mini rant i feel passionately about this issue although that may be the down fall of a research project if I were to progress with it. I feel like I may get carried away with the multitude of issues I may end up researching into tangent that although may be relevant to me might hinder my focus

Narrowing down the research topic from the broader areas will be difficult I real invested in both and fell like they all have a lot of merit

I would like to move towards the a topics somewhere along the lines of cultural accessibility. With a loosely formed resolution in mind it may help to gather information for a survey perhaps to ask students if that particular outcome would interest them and asking for a few other resolutions as qualitative research

If I were to delve into an issue with parking I might lean more towards the environmental impacts and issues with congestion as a relative impact. Providing a solution to use in a survey will help to gain more users and will initiate curiosity ad provoke thought.

More research is definitely in order for both topics and once I narrow down the topics to something more closely researchable the choices may seem easy to chose from. If I allow myself the option to go on tangents in my research early on I may find niche topics I could explore with greater detail and more accuracy.

 

How I ended up in the realm of Mukbang

For some time now I have been yearning to travel but I struggle to organise myself when I have a lot on my plate. Even narrowing down where I wanted to go and how long I’d take, when I could go and who I’d go with, were heavy tasks I couldn’t even start, until recently

Finally I decided on a short trip somewhere around Asia would be the best bet to satisfy my travel lust momentarily.
I started to research by grabbing a few travel books from a local travel agency where I flicked through tour after tour realising how much was on offer and only making my decisions harder. It had been so long since I’d looked at a book or a magazine considering everything I needed could be contained in a device the size of my hand seeing everything in that book became quite daunting and I new I would never make my mind up that way.
I thought narrowing down where I wanted to go should have been my first move rather than diving into tour books where too much information was thrown at me

I moved onto a medium that has become a phantom limb to narrow down the place i wanted to visit, TripAdvisor was my first step for highlights of each country, and then Instagram for a more ‘personal’ feel of each location

TripAdvisor was great at helping me build information to a few key places I wanted to see, Instagram was good at showing me more of the experience once I had reduced my options

It started with a few travel photos of water front views, vibrant shots of nature, pangs of jealous, and then into food.
It got to the point where I started to base where i wanted to go by what food looked the best. I had decided distinguishing the best place for me to travel based on what there was to see was going to be too much of a feat and there was far to much to sift through when every country drew me in as much as the last. I knew I wouldn’t have the time or the funds to see all of them so instead I made the attempt to research the trip with my stomach in mind

This was a mistake I paid dearly with many, many hours attached to my phone screen. I got stuck in a black hole of related material to the point where it wasn’t even relevant anymore and I still kept going, I was hooked.

It was interesting to see how easily and willingly I would spend hours and hours following a trail that started from a hashtag of #travelasia, to a few individual travel bloggers, to travel/food related hashtags, to food trends on the internet I had never even heard of.

Whilst clicking through a few basic hashtags I came across Korean foods and ended up following that to unfamiliar videos of Koreans eating large portions of food and filming it. I was pulled into an endless cycle of eating videos that captivated my attention because it was so so unusual to me.
Ive seen cooking and how to videos increasingly in the past few years but this was something else, these videos showed people cooking and eating the huge meal right in front of you, with quite prominent chewing sounds.

Of course I did a little bit of research, the trend is called Mukbang and its fascinating. The idea is to hear every mouthful as the host describes the foods texture and taste. The host also interacts with their audience’s message-board type responses verbally. Many hosts have even found the trend to be lucrative through donations or advertising networks.
Although the Instagram side to these trends are short snippets of their full eating experience some Mukbang producers found on Youtube such as Dorothy,(who ive used as my feature image)

The community behind these Mukbangers is strong with many regular subscribers as the hosts seems to fill desires of food and company simultaneously. I have already established favourites and I cant even understand the conversation.

Now these videos aren’t for everyone as the point is to hear the chewing, slurping and devouring distinctly.

Note – I still haven’t decided on where I’ll travel but I have and will continue to use Mukbang to help me chose what I’ll eat if I’m feeling indecisive (its usually noodles)

Consciousness of our surroundings

What is ethical? Are humans becoming more ethical?

Ethics is quite a heavy handed topic, but it short term ethics is a way in which humans can look at the world and see what is fair and just, and tries to pin down what is required to do right for not only humans but for all beings living and non hat occupy the same world

Discussing the ethical behavior humans have towards animals and our environments is becoming a more prevalentHumans are slowly becoming more aware of their impacts with the growing trend of dietary trends such as vegetarianism and veganism. It seems to be that as people there are a few here and there who are changing their lifestyles to better help the world that keeps us living even whilst we poison it.

By changing your diet from meat staples to vegetarian and vegan meals can slowly start to change both the minds of those around you as well as affect the impact on the environment.Not only are herbivores addressing the way in which animals are treated but are also changing the way in which humans impact the world in the long run, by reducing carbon emissions

“Average US consumer switching from a typical American diet to a vegan diet with the same number of calories saves 1.5 tonnes of carbon per year” Eshel G, and P A martin 2006 “Diet, Energy, and Global Warming, Earth Interactions in press”

When tackling the issues of global warming; changing diets seems to be the hardest thing to let go of, a common excuse seems to be that they simply couldn’t live without the comforts that their diet provides, or where will I get my protein from, or I just don’t like vegetables. It is the mindset of the majority that needs to be changed, to assure meat eaters that a vegetarian or vegan diet isn’t as boring or unappetising as is assumed

Even still being vegetarian or vegan sadly isn’t enough. Our lifestyles need to change and although change is hard, we need to make an impact before its too late. We are making our way with electric cars and renewable energy and on going environmental projects, yet it is still difficult to make a large enough impact to not just fix what humans have done but what we continue to do.

 

References

Eshel G, and P A martin 2006 “diet energy and global warming, earth interactions in press”

Singer, P. 2009″The Ethics of What We Eat” WilliamsCollege,14 Dec

 

The Selfish Selfie

Are we growing to be more selfish? Does this correlate with our obviously growing narcissism. Does that mean we are happier for it?

A growing trend and now necessity in the majority of people accessing their virtual lives through visual platforms is the act of taking a selfie. And though the act of doing so may be judged I can guarantee that every single one of you reading this has taken one. Whether it be a guilty pleasure, a group selfie or the shameless “in public, looking flawless, its ok its for my snap chat streak”

Its become a requirement of social media. And it definitely has, because I can tell you, If some tries to add me on social media and their display picture is a car or aspirational quote… then no thanks maybe never.

For people not caught up in this world of self-love and mastery of filters the obvious question comes to mind; how can this benefit anything?

Selfies appear selfish especially for those who don’t partake of the highly broadcasted self-interest and admiration. But are generations who have immersed themselves in this virtual culture more selfish than the generations before?

When it comes down to it the manner in which social media functions makes it appear as through its users are selfish,; constantly looking for likes and making themselves appear “more beautiful” than their average selves. However this is how humans behave. We crave attention and admiration as they bring with them endorphins and dopamine. Molly Soat of Marketing News discusses this social media drug in “Social Media Triggers a Dopamine High”

In the article she mentions Mauricio Delgado, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., who states that “The same brain areas [that are activated for food and water] are activated for social stimuli,”

He discusses the “like” and “share” function of social media stating that the initial dopamine kick is received from the act ie working out or eating dinner., a secondary kick is received from the sharing and liking aspect  “It’s a daisy chain of dopamine.”

Now that humans have the means to look for this high constantly and with ease, does that make us more selfish?We are simply aware of what makes us chemically happy and how to obtain it.

A study by Hui Bing Tan and Joseph P. Forgas on the selfishness of humans and how that relates to our happiness draws on some interesting findings. The study drew from three experiments where the mood and how this affected their fairness was monitored. Interestingly when people exhibited positive moods, selfishness was increased and people with negative moods were more inclined to be fairer.

The results were as follows;

Microsoft Word - TanForgasJESPJan2010RevisionWithFigures

Can this then mean that in fact the generations subjected to social media constraints and norms are indeed prone to higher levels of selfishness, considering that they are chemically happier with each burst of “like/share” fueled dopamine

One aspect that needs to be addressed is the truth as to whether our internet soaked generations are in fact happier.

Viewing this from social media stance, Id say definitely, however we all know that in between the amazing instagram pictures of loads of people gallivanting through pristine scenes with flawless skin and even more flawless friends could well be, an all but exciting life.

The pictures, selfies, and posts that make the cut to social media all hold qualities that we admire, they are the best of the best, not the average and boring. Our social media profiles have become our brands, it is what we use to show other people the best of ourselves, and we sure as hell aren’t going to show our “depressed, cant get out of bed and only ate slices of plastic cheese for a week” selves. If its not desirable, it wont be published.

I truly don’t believe that even though public spaces online depict immaculate people with bountiful lives, that they are happier for it.

Geraldine Bedell, editor of Gransnet, discussed the growing rates of mental health issues in the last 25 years. Stating that “Rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70 per cent in the past 25 years. The number of children and young people turning up in A&E with a psychiatric condition has more than doubled since 2009”

Every aspect of social media is constructed, and therefore should not be taken as entirely true. If we are not truly happy does this then indicate that we are not as selfish as we may appear when immersing ourselves in this simulated lifestyle?

References

Bedell, G. 2016 “Teenage Mental-Health Crisis: Rates Of Depression Have Soared In Past 25 Years” Independent, 27 February 2016

Fareri, D.S., Martin, L.N., Delgado, M.R. (2008) Reward-related processing in the human brain: Developmental considerations. Development & Psychopathology, 20(4): 1191-1211.

Hui Bing Tan and Joseph P. Forgas When happiness makes us selfish, but sadness makes us fair: Affective influences on interpersonal strategies in the dictator game

Soat, M. 2015 “Social Media Triggers a Dopamine High”Marketing News, Nov 2015

 

Gustation (the act or sensation of taste) Tour

I have a number of changes from my previous formats and concepts of my gustation (the act or sensation of taste) tour through Asia

What will remain the same is the viewpoint of a food intolerant. I find this approach to be unique but also personal. Not only will I be able to experience a new side to Asian food but I will also help and encourage others who are affected or are curious about food intolerances.
I will try to show others how easy and practical it can be to discover new food even when faced with barriers such as this. In the process I intend to show those affected and those curious, how intolerant friendly food doesn’t have to be lifeless.

One concept that intrigued me when I first looked into it and still does now is the different variations of food intolerances all around the world. This fuelled my curiosity and lead me to further research how different they can be. The difference between Asian cultures and ‘western’ cultures is extreme, intolerances common in each are barely even noticed in the other, to the extent that some food are not even eaten to begin with in the other culture. The science behind would need much more time that I could give in just one project but I hope to at least find curious information to share and experience myself. I say experience because as i research I will come across foods Ive never heard of and I can’t simply base my research text. I hope to try common intolerant food of Asian countries as I find them. What better was to gain a well-rounded understanding of the unfamiliar foods than to try them.

As the research for my project continued I realized the intolerance concept stands well on its own, yet it still allows me to explore a range of new experiences that; simulate, intrigue and entertain me.
When first deciding on how I would be exploring Asian culture I felt it was necessary to create an entertaining factor. As my concept through intolerances has developed I’ve realized the combined analysis of food and film is not necessary to achieve that compelling factor. The unique nature of my viewpoint will expose engaging avenues itself, as I explore my own curiously I will create more paths to discover.

I found that studying films and their relationship with food would be a project in itself, I needed to chose between that and intolerances. Intolerances fascinated me much more than food and film, and I felt like there was only so far I could push a project like that before I felt like I was repeating myself.

The intolerance world is new to me and I feel like having the opportunity to dive into a world that is so specific will lead to unique understands that will not only affect me in terms of my knowledge but also my own personal eating and intolerances when the project is completed.
A concept that I am looking at exploring more, that I had not considered when initially working on my project was the treatment of intolerances. Since coping with intolerances is a combination of prevention and treatment I would like to explore the avoidance of trigger food as well as the options for healing.

The differences in ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ medicine can vary greatly especially when considering ancient natural treatments and healing widely found in Asia.
I would like to explore how effective natural Chinese medicine can be in treating intolerances and allergies.
The easiest starting point for me will be researching respectable Doctors as well as well known treatments I can acquire through everyday means.
Treating allergies and intolerances will target the source; I am willing to try unfamiliar teas and digestive remedies if it means that I can find alternative relief as well as gaining insight into the catalogue of options I have yet to discover.

Traditional Chinese medicine is not restricted to simple teas and remedies; it includes healthy diets, meditation, physical exercise, remedial massage and acupuncture. I am excited to try remedial massage and acupuncture to improve my research in an auto-ethnographic manner.

My approach in this project is to dive right in, to understand as much as I can my intolerances and how Asian cultures can help me find a different viewpoint.
Chinese medicine focuses on the harmony of the body, interaction between parts and aims to keep the balance of the body
The digestive system when viewed in a Chinese medicinal manner processes slightly differently than in ‘Western’ medicine. The differences in viewing the human body open diverse directions of thinking and so the treatment is different.

In Chinese medicine the stomach and the spleen need to work in harmony for the digestive process to be balanced
Chinese Yams (Mountain Yam), Wild Cardamom, Atractylodes and Codonopsis are used in a tonic to help with this balance and work together to harmonise Stomach and Spleen functions.
Heartburn and indigestion is attributed to a misdirection stomach Qi (pronounced chee) where it moved upwards instead of downwards. Chinese herbs can be taken to regulate the flow; Magnolia Bark, Pinellia and Evodia as some that help with this process.
I am eager to try tonics and herbs to see how effective these unfamiliar methods are

The platform that I would like to present my project through is Youku; a Chinese online video and steaming platform.
I would like to upload my videos to an Asian database to hopefully round off my Asian experience. Since I will be experimenting with Chinese medicine I hope my videos will show a different perspective for the users of the site

2015. “Traditional Chinese Medicine Symptoms Of Poor Digestion” Pacific College of
Oriental Medicine. Feburary 2015 http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/02/26/traditional-chinese-medicine-symptoms-poor-digestion

Beinfield H, 2010 “Chinese medicine and digestion” http://www.drfranklipman.com/chinese-medicine-and-digestion/

Custer, C. 2011 “How To Upload A Video To Youku.com” The World of Chinese. 16 Feburary
http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2011/02/how-to-upload-a-video-to-youku-com/

Margolin, C. 20 “New Chinese Medicine Tools To Replenish And Repair Our Gut” Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/05/06/new-chinese-medicine-tools-replenish-and-repair-our-gut