Akira; A Look Into Our Future

Anthropologist Hayano used the term autoethnography in its early form, in a 1979 essay discussing the self-observational nature of the traditional ethnographic research. Hayano refers to cultural studies of an ethnographer’s ‘own people’, later we see the more common use of the term coined by Ellis defining it as;

”an autobiographical genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural”(2000: 739)

Autoethnography employs storytelling however it “transcends mere narration of self to engage in cultural analysis and interpretation” (Chang 2008: 43).

When analysing my first blog on Akira I found that simply linking similar lifestyles, locations, and experiences wasn’t enough to gain a full understanding of the culture and failed to evoke further thought.

“Most locations and settings are different from each other, this work even more so. With its post-apocalyptic timeframe however maintaining the cityscape; Akira creates an interesting world where construction and deconstruction exists simultaneously.” (H.Mandy 2016)

I have seen films, which employ themes of a post-apocalyptic world however very few show fully functions mechanisms of the past.

I realise now after further study into ethnography that some points I highlighted could delve into the multiple layers of the culture rather than simply analysing face value.

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In my first blog I mentioned the appearance of the cityscape, its functionality, and capability even after an apocalypse. I used my past experience with post-apocalyptic films to identify that the lack of destruction in certain areas was curious, especially considering the neglect of other parts.
This surface detail without further question and exploration fails to understand the culture. Expanding the point by using supporting details such as the manner in which the society functions through; corruption, secret scientific experiments, military dependency and oppression, allows an auto-ethnographer to analyse the underlying issues of the society rather than the symptoms

The city barely functions on the ground floors and the escalating gang violence only adds to the disorder they regularly ride through each night. The film highlights the familiar issue with a dystopian world in a post-apocalyptic setting however also points directly at issues of our current societies. Corruption and oppression exists in full force in both the audiences world and the world of the film, this similarity alongside the complete desolation of the surrounding environment insinuates that what we could be viewing is in fact the future of our world.
an apocalypse may be capable of wiping out many lives and locations with it, however the strongest and worst traits of our societies are so ingrained that they will never die.

The resolution to the film comes not from the heroism of one but from the selflessness of a group, sacrificing their lives to save the many. This points towards a potential resolution for our world. We cannot solve our issues of war, destruction of our planet, famine, poverty and of course oppression and corruption, without selflessness. We’re taught as children that violence never solved anything yet our lives revolve around it. Akira manifests our most undesirable selves; the selfish, violent, uncivilised delinquents. We cannot stop ourselves from becoming desolate species without thinking of others. We can’t keep waiting for a super hero to fix what we’ve done, we might end up with Akira

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References
Chang, H 2008 Autoethnography as method, Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press

Ellis, C and Bochner, A P 2000 ‘Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject’, in N K Denzin and Y S Lincoln (eds), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 733-68

Hayano, D 1979 ‘Auto-ethnography: Paradigms, problems, and prospects’ Human Organization 38: 1, 99-104

Mandy, H. 2016 ‘Process or product? ?por que no los dos’, 12 August, WordPress

Pace, S. 2012, ‘Writing the Self into Ressearch’, Special Issue: Creativity: Cognitive, Social and Cultural Perspectives eds. McLoughlin & Brien, Central Queensland University

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process or product? ¿por qué no los todos?

Autoethnography as described by Ellis as a method of both process and product.

Process; It employs principles of both autobiography and ethnography to form a work based on hindsight and personal experience.

Product; It can make a text aesthetic and evocative by using techniques which bring “readers into the scene” (Ellis, 2004, p.142), as well as illustrating new perspectives

In layman’s terms autoethnography uses personal experience to better understand cultural experience and texts using this process should create a product that is able stimulate memories and past experiences.

akira-moviehttp://www.japanpowered.com/anime-articles/akira-changing-the-face-of-anime

Now that that’s out of the way, lets apply this method to Akira.

Analysing this work in relation to autoethnography is likely to be relatively different to my peers
I have seen the film a number of times, and as a huge fan of Japanese art and entertainment my past experience of Japanese film is slightly different.

Most locations and settings are different from each other, this work even more so. With its post-apocalyptic timeframe however maintaining the cityscape; Akira creates an interesting world where construction and deconstruction exists simultaneously.

I have seen films, which employ themes of a post-apocalyptic world however very few show fully functions mechanisms of the past.
Akira’s dystopian world still contains many aspects and values firmly embedded our world today.
I noticed a few similarities in their;

  • Bureaucracy; what seemed to be politicians, bickering over policies, funding and overall control over the city
  • Skyscrapers; still just as tall, still impeccably maintained
  • Education; not that the characters seem to realise the value
  • Transport; expensive toys to get you from A to B, and also facilitate your spiral into crime

I found it easy to identify with this world, as it appears to be a direct projection into the future. The reference of WWIII, which caused the chaos, and the remnants of a large city accessible today, pulls the film into the audiences reality.

Even the year it is set strikes close to home, the opening credits show the year as 2019 along with the extent of the obliteration to the city.
Although this film is science fiction it strikes some accurate blows to the issues our societies are already facing and may face some time soon.

I feel like the accuracy of this film is what simultaneously thrills and freights me. I posted a tweet about how the credits send give me chills every time I watch Akira, yet it was only after analyzing it did I realized I will always get chills when I watch it, hoping this masterpiece does not become a foreshadow as many science fiction novels have before it

*cough cough*

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Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1

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A troll is a troll. But what is a troll?

“The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.”

Trolling is a time old tradition passed down from generation to generation. In simplest forms most people have been a troll throughout their lives. A troll doesn’t have to be a disguised individual scouring the multitude of platforms and chartrooms waiting for their next victim.

The blossoming new era of trolling has indeed changed dramatically. With the ability to disguise oneself behind a screen and play the intellect, the internet has allowed the existence of the troll to morph into something we cannot control.

The greatest group of trollers has to be anonymous. No limits, no identity and with power and control to back them are unstoppable. Developing over the decades it has always been known as legend however still prevalent today. Successfully pulling off mass trolls anonymous stands as one of the powerful trolls, sparking revolutions in the world of intellectual pranks.

A game based on deception, it has spread rapidly to every tiny space of the internet. It works like a virus. The aim is to not get caught, to win players must out match their opponent, some players or rather victims don’t even know whats happening.

The changes in platforms particularly the lack of consequences involved with anonymous Internet usage has allowed players to morph the troll in to something else.

The sad truth is that, where once was wit and sharp thinking, is now bullying and pestering. The true nature of a troll has been lost.

Will it become extinct, replaced by easier forms or entertainment? Most likely involving less skill or thought.

Colemn, G 2014. “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistle Bloer, Spy: The many faces of the anonymous” Verso, Creative commons.

Miller, Ryan M. (2013). Hacking the Social: Internet Memes, Identity Antagonism, and the Logic of Lulz, The Fibreculture Journal, 22: p. 89.

To sheep or to sheep

The human race a technology as it is playing it seems to be one of laziness and apathy. Adaption after adaption enhances our lives by making life easier. With a touch of a button were able to change our lives completely without any strain of more than a few muscles.

We are already governed by media, technology and pop culture, the human race is no longer a race but a hum drum rhythm copies. We are slowly weakening our independence and soon will have no value to us and we’ll just give it away.

The leap or rather small fairy step from where we are now to a world governed not by humans but by objects does not seem to be such a bad thing. It’ll make life a lot easier considering the hardest thing about getting ready everyday and choice rather than the actual process.

To cut out the menial task of thinking.

Could it be that easy.

Could it be that boring?

Oh yes it can and it now comes with 3 new shades of grey. Grey so you don’t need to strain your brain with the option of choice.

Social objects can and do control every aspect of our lives minutely. Hugh Macleod stated in his blog Gapingvoid in 2008 that “the social object in a nutshell, is the reason two people talk to each other, as opposed to somebody else” he goes on to explain that even though social humans need to encouragement, a reason to socialize with people. “that reason, that “node” in the social network, is what we call the Social Object”

Although the lack of control, or even lack of thought, one has in their daily tasks can lead to serious consequences. Although there are always positives even when we’re thinking of the future and the horrors it may hold.

Social objects have lead us to inventions such as the Internet of things, discussed in Teodor Mitew’s “FCJ-168 Do objects dream of an internet of things”

It is through our growth in communication that we can bring together the internet of things described as a platform allowing the categorization of things. No only can this make it easier for individuals to successfully search the depths and come out with what they were looking for, however also enhances conversation as the social objects are infinite.

As it seems the progression of communication is not reducing its speed. And although we can foresee glitches here and there the outcome may outweigh the consequences. So here’s to a better and brighter/clearer voice and tones more cat videos, as social objects, for learning of course.

Macleod, H. 2008 “Social Objects are the future of marketing.”Gapingvoid.

Mitew, T. 2014 “FCJ-168 Do objects dream of an internet of things” The Fibreculture Journal, Open Humanities Press.

My second identity is online 

Social creature by nature, humans have been, since the dawn of tongue, perfecting the forms of communication. Through these new developments we have also as a result formed new identities; from the polite well presented telephone speaking voice to the online presence as a whole.

Human kind has and always will continue to develop the next best thing especially if it involves adapting something that already love to a shinier, faster, more elegant version. This is exactly what we’ve done with our identities online.

Our online presence is no longer a hobby or past time. It is now alive, growing and changing as we do. It needs to be fed daily, petted, washed and pampered, and most importantly its social life.

Through the analysis of Arto in “Understanding Social Networking”, Larsen is able to convey the way in which identity is built, although discussed in a more positive light than I would have liked, Larsen still identifies that youngsters have the ability to ’find’ their identity no only through them selves but also with others. This viewpoint is not something I completely agree with however. Larsen describes the process of manipulating an online identity though positive feedback to be … positive. It would be if we lived in a perfect world, however this site has turned what could be a positive identity construction zone into a fake, directed show. The users of this site are the perfect example of a utopian dystopian online world. Fueling the fire of attainable perfection, molding youngsters into sheep, with little opinion focused solely on being the ‘nicest’ person.

The internet allows users to have a new identity. Through these identities we can change who we are, face little consequence or backlash. The internet in some forms can offer an outlet for individuals struggling to find an identity or even help with those who cannot cope with one they don’t seem to fit.

The progression of the avatar has allowed users to connect with people like themselves around the world without as many barriers as we once had.

The study by Koda, Ishida , Rehm and Andre’ “Avatar culture: cross-culture evaluations of avatar facial expressions” found that there are cultural differences in interpreting avatar expressions. This suggests that even the online identities we create are still highly influenced by our surroundings, so much so that a distinct difference can be seen between Japanese avatars and those of Western origin.

Andre’, E. Ishida, T. Koda, T, Rehm M. 2009 “Avatar culture: cross-culture evaluations of avatar facial expressions” Springer-Verlag London Limited,!st July

Larsen, M. 2008 “Understanding Social Networking” Aalborg University, Denmark.

It’s 1984 all over again

Continuous breaches of the public sphere has increased the urge to make a change. Focused prodominitly in Britain a new uprising of protests have risen concerning the use of personal digital information that, as it seems, is not private at all. Interpret corporations have great access to our information although technically through consent, not all users of the Internet are fully aware of how much of their information can be stored or even how easily it can be accessed without their knowledge. 

Talk of a digital bill of rights has been mentioned and in  ‘The Conversations’ 21st April “What Use Would a Bill of Rights Be?” article this option is discusses in a manner that provoked many questions about the rights Internet users currently have and the potential if their were to be such a change that is suggested. 

The concept of personal information as payment for the use of products was mention in the bill of rights article. This form of payment looks to be the only fitting payment for the use of digital data, one needs to give to receive, however the extent of this payment seems quite unfair. Internet corporations see little value in personal information, where apps and websites store  large amounts of data for one individual and only then does It suffice for the use of one product!

Indeed the Internet is a growing commodity and as it grows so does its expense. Ussrs are required to pay for the information and data they use regardless of how useful it will be to them in the future, that’s right I’m talking about Cary crush and FarmVille. It is the users priority to deliberate whether their time and currency is worth the data they are receiving. The fact that users are paying is not the issue here. The issue is that users are paying for somthing they have deemed as free, so not once it’s too late do they realise how much of their personal data has been used to pay for their addictive ‘gaming’. 

For something that has been running for so long and has had the chance to find a solution for quite some time, the Internet is still stuck in a rut between working for the benefit of its users or its masters. Surveillance is somethig that scares me and should definitely scare more people than it actually does. The extent of the surveillance we are subjected to is unbelievable however it has reached this point because we’ve allowed it to.  We are naive and it’s true we don’t fully understand how valuable our privacy is untill it has been taken away however that should not mean that it is right to exploit us. 

This day and age of data retention and personal survelence reminds me of the classic distooian play 1984. Depicting a world where privacy didn’t exist and people were simply cogs in machine, running purely for a big corporation. George Orwell was able to predict the turn of our technology not through extra terrestrial beings or artificial intelligence taking control but from ourselves. Multiple ‘wars’ broke out every week with a different cintender. Civilians under cinstant watch in case they showed any signs of free will and strictly no leaniency for personal time or pleasure. 

What’s sad is that this horridly depiction may soon be our legitimate future. Orwell showed a world of his worst fears and we have only encouraged its progression. I for one think a bill of rights is a brilliant idea.  Although it may not stop survelence entirely it may hinder its control and bring attention to its harmfulness. The digital and online world of legislation is a tricky place, by creating a bill of rights the these rules and regulations may be combined in one form of legislation to work for the public. At least then will users have legislation to stand on

Are we settling for a quick scratch when we really need a full body massage.

A quick fix is all you need these days, no substance or depth, very little shared love and certainly no care to do it again. Material, platforms, sites and the process of the online in general are the one night stands of entertainment. Fed quick snacks of high energy, low nutrition and a whole lot of junk consumers of these forms of entertainment are deprived and manure he’d. I can honestly say that it has been months since I last picked up a book and even then I read a few pages and was distracted by the ever present whining of my Facebook feed, I’m ashamed to say I am one of them.. 
The further into Dorner’s (1993) “When readers become end-users: intercourse without seduction”, I felt guiltier. I reread the article about three times just to make sure I wouldn’t be one of the readers she was critizing as a skim reader. However soon after the provoked thoughts had left my head I was once again hooked by the sugar soaked easy readings of buzfeed polls and quick step articles. 
It’s a shame really that it today’s society as referred to by Dorner as ‘post modernist’ we fail to appreciate the courtship of true reading. However I. Saying this, the evolution of reading could be at its next bridge. Indeed people feel less obligated or even motivated to feed their minds with a good fiction or well written truths, however what if we are simply evolving to enjoy a different form of entertainment. The world of interactivity has captured the minds of many, a new age banter between other people rather than characters in a novel. In some cases this can be a good form of  nourishment. Take role playing games for example; groups are formed which lead to bonds,  effective analysis of situations, team work, forward thinking, and entertainment. 

In saying that some interactive forms of entertainment has found to has less than a desirable effect of the participants. Schreier “From halo to hot sauce: what 25 years of violent video game research looks like”, (2013)  discusses the effects of long term bpgaming I pm violent stettings. Like most violent forms of entertainment violence fuels violence. However gaming seems to be one of the most effecting forms. Whether this is fuels by the interactive component of simply enhanced I don’t know.  This is not nessasarily somthing that is seen in all genres or forms of gaming it is simply the most popular. Either way I feel the evolutionary progress we are experiencing in front of our own eyes is definitely something that should not be overlooked and spectra in,y not hindered. I feel their change could the beginning of many new forms of entertainment just waiting to spread their positive influence. And I can’t wait!