Category: Uncategorized

Objects and Us

What did you wear today? Did you slip on your well worn Chucks or squeeze yourself into a dress shirt and pants? Did you pull on your lucky underwear? Or chose a spanking new document clutch instead of your usual haversack? The simple act of taking a closer look at your daily routine will illustrate clearly what Henry Ford meant with his quote above.

Heading out for a casual night out with your friends will have you reaching out for your Chucks, because one look at them and you’ve gathered: these are my comfortable shoes. They’ll last me the entire night without any agonizing blisters AND they’re a style classic that goes with my outfit.

Remember the time you got caught on barbed wire and hung upside down for hours?

A job interview? Time to dig out the formal suit from the depths of the abyss you call your wardrobe. Your suit is telling you a story. They are just like your interview – uncomfortable, trying but very very necessary. They are also broadcasters telling your potential employers a story – you’re a professional, you know how to dress appropriately and that they should hire you. Here are three products with strong communication values to us.

1. Credit Cards

A credit card has become so imbued to our world that no eyebrows would be raised at the sight of one. However, there are still two camps on the issue – the holders, and the withholders. Holders own credit cards, while withholders… don’t.

To a holder, a credit card says: you’ve made it. It is a symbol of financial stability/success and that you’re in-the-know. You know where to get the best deals, where to eat and you hold a key that opens up doors. It’s almost like you’re a mini celebrity – you get discount, freebies and perks that outsiders looking in don’t. You’re on the list. How others read your card:

Unless it’s a black Amex, you’re just like the rest of us.

On the other side, the withholders are people who not only do not own a credit card, but think that they are the work of the Devil. They see holders as people who:

1) are high maintenance
2) have a need to flaunt their wealth
3) spend more than they earn
4) have credit, but no cash

I’m better than you because all I have in my wallet is… credit?

So when a withholder sees a holder’s credit cards, it’s as if the card is screaming this at them. “My owner is not only frivolous and vain but also spends beyond her means. Approach at your own risk!”

Despite all odds and the naysaying withholders, Singapore’s credit card debt and spending soared to a record high in 2011. What is this obsession we have with this thin piece of plastic? It might be a love-hate relationship, but above all reasons, we covet and desire the card because of two reasons. It is a beacon of transitory pseudo freedom.

One of the hallmarks of a post-modernism child is suspicion. We are suspicious of external authority, of absolute truth and of absolute reality. We reside in a safe, relatively advanced and developed country but the price we pay for that is freedom. Now, we may not face Hitler-esque conditions nor do we struggle for our lives circa the Japanese Occupation but make no mistake about it – we haven’t thought of ourselves as being free for the longest time. To an individual used to living in a secure, independent country, what is the most precious commodity of freedom?

Without a question, it’ll be the freedom of speech. We yearn to express ourselves, to grasp the meaning of the elusive absolute freedom, yet we are stonewalled at every corner when influential people like Mr Brown are sued for their political satire on their blogs. These are frequent reminders that yes, while you are a civilized citizen in a developed country, you do NOT have the right to free speech.

How many of us would like to ditch our overworked and underpaid jobs? Go on a sabbatical to the Amazon Basin? Lie on a beach somewhere, coming up with the next Great American novel? How many of us sigh and go, “But I have _____(fill in your burden/commitment of choice)”

Ah… the life of a hippie smoking it up at the Stonehenge.

There is so little room to maneuver and deviate that we are unable to find meaning in this ‘freedom’ that comes with civilization. Problem is, we’re always looking for meanings. Why do we work? What is the meaning to life? Without a light at the end of the tunnel, we can only construct one for ourselves. Every time we swipe the card, the rush of handing over money we don’t have isn’t just due to the novelty. It is the brief sense of freedom that yes, I might not be able to chase my dreams but dammit, I can buy an overpriced piece of metal on credit if I want to.

We’re buying a slice of freedom, regardless of how short and momentary it is. And because it’s a credit card, the freedom experienced is pseudo – we’re not just spending money on something we don’t need… we’re spending someone else’s money! It’s sad that we have so little psychological freedom that we have to resort to getting our hit via a plastic transaction. And because it feels good, we do it again and again and again.

It is a safety net. Why do holders have a collection of credit cards? It’s simple. A credit card is frequently viewed as a safety net for people who spend beyond their means or for people who live from pay cheque to pay cheque. There is a reason why the insurance market is booming – we are all afraid of the unknown. We will never known what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the myriad of disasters and financial crises coming at us wave after wave doesn’t help.

We get increasingly paranoid, and since such catastrophes are outside of our control, the only thing we can do is to try and find ways to survive before it actually happens. It’s like stocking up dried food right before a war happens. We seek desperately for ways to better prepare ourselves for what might or might not come.

Maybe tomorrow, someone in your family would need a kidney transplant. Or you could lose your job. If you’re really unlucky, you might lose your home. We can’t stop what tomorrow might bring, but we can sure as hell try everything we can possibly do for a sense of assurance. As humans, we need that light at the end of the tunnel to tell us that everything will be alright. No emergency is too tough if we are prepared.

A credit card is the saving grace that goes, “Out of money? Don’t worry, I’ve got tons here to spare.”

As a communication technology, a credit card is a powerful one because it is a bountiful broadcaster of information that belongs to you. It holds so much data that we have to categorize it into three receiving identities: physical, issuer and third party. Physical refers to the actual card in tangible form, while issuer to the bank the card is issued by and third party means the places you use the card in.

Physical
When we go into the physical manifestation of the credit card, it is to illustrate how efficient it is as a communication technology because it really speaks for itself. Just one look at your card is all it takes for people to register your banking preferences, personality, lifestyle and social status. You can even judge a date by his choice of plastic. A multitude of ‘regular’ credit cards speaks for a multitude of spending problems.

Want an elite membership to a club the first time you’re there? Flash your Centurion “Black Amex” American Express card when you pick up the bill and presto! You have it. Then, have fun watching your server, bartender and everyone else near you in the club look at you like this:

Issuer
Every time you swipe your card, your bank knows just a little bit more about you. Where you like to shop, where you like to dine. Are most of your expenditures online? Is Singapore Airlines your preferred way to fly? Do you keep cash in the bank or in your wallet?

Or maybe how much of a badass you are.

It might sound trivial, but data-mining is one of the most lucrative industries out there currently since it is the best marketing tool now to really scrutinize the relevant target markets of companies. With your entire history of spending and earnings, your bank has backstage access to a whole load of data about you. The card is a vault of your information – your career level, spending power and consumer habits as well.

Third Party
Now, unlike banks, retailers and companies have no way to know you. Until you’ve shopped with them or made a transaction, that is.

Just one purchase for a product once in a blue moon, and Amazon is able to tell me what else that people similar to myself have purchased. Your credit card is your identity, and they are able to recognize you by your card and recommend you things based on your past purchases. They are also able to tell you what are the other products that people similar to you have purchased.

In addition, when you have a store card like Isetan, and you shop frequently there, your card is able to let Isetan know that ‘hey, here’s a regular customer!’ It lets Isetan or any other third party company recognize your spending patterns and brand loyalty there as well.

Objectifying

When you place meaning in a credit card, it objectifies you differently to different audiences. Firstly, if you see your card as a status symbol, something to mark your success in the world, you will use it to flaunt your financial fortune by often picking up the bill when you’re out with your friends, getting complimentary access into the hottest clubs for everyone and so on. People will then see you as the ATM.

I had this conversation with a friend a long time ago:

Friend: “Hey let’s ask XXX and XX to join us.”
Me: (surprised) “Why? I thought you hated them.”
Friend: “Yeah, well, they pick up all the bills with their cards that their parents cover.” *dials XXX’s number*

In the same way that people who drive tend to lose a bit of their identities in the beginning – when they’ve just gotten a pair of wheels and their friends start to see them not as a person per se, but a driver who can give them a lift home at the end of the night – if your plastic has become your calling card, people will start seeing you as the person who picks up the bill.

Another way that a credit card would objectify us would be treating us like we are no longer a person but instead their cash cow. The reason why we said that is because in times of need, they would not offer any support. For instance, ethically, if someone was facing a debt, we feel that it is our social responsibility to help, whereas for credit card companies, they are business owners who dont see their consumers as a normal person but only view us as value for money. They find it profitable to be insensitive and abusive, they can be self-righteous thinking that they are moral and ethical people, because the objectification of their customers trick their mind to believe so.

What you are about to see is an explicit video, if you are under the age of 18, please ignore the next section NOW!

In the above video, at 6:11, you can see that Nelly is actually sliding the credit card in the lady’s crevices of their butt. What we feel of this particular action is that in a way, he is portraying that women are like objects that can be bought with credit cards. The reason being, credit cards gives the impression to men in the video that women will never say no to money. They will do anything and go to any extent to get benefits from the cards that these men possess.

So does this question that men is being objectified by the credit card?

Reason being some girls that we know are attracted or impressed by the amount of credit cards that a guy has. Because it would mean that with more credit cards, they feel that the man will have no qualms on lavishing gifts on them. With that thought in mind, does it show that women only treat guys as a money machine?

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2. Crocs

What comes across your mind when someone asks you what do you think of the brand crocs or how do you perceive someone who uses crocs? Trendsetting? Fashion disaster? Comfortable? Classy? Healthy? Here is what some has to say,

Many stereotype it just by looking at the product on the surface, failing to realize the benefits of it and the message that the product is trying to put across. Yes, it might look awful to be walking around with a piece of rubber everyday but what people tend to overlook is the actual relationship we have with the product.

Crocs actually acts as an everyday necessity in terms of providing footwear, apparels, accessories etc with a unique selling point of promoting comfort, health, safety and also a trendsetting item. As its largest produce is footwear, they claimed to have an approved model providing molded insoles as diabetic footwear to help reduce foot injuries.

“CrocsRX” is one of their collections that fully specialize in aiding consumers with variety of foot problems and also correcting posture. One of our group mates is a user of crocs and yes he agrees with the comfort level that they claim to have and the lightweight of it. However, the downside of it is that he has to buy a new pair regularly as the soles wear off easily.

Talking about wear and tear, we must admit that Crocs is not relatively a cheap item to own. Some may argue as to why they should spend more than a certain amount for a piece of rubber as their durability can be questioned. This is where crocs come in to make people spend just to be in trend. and this is also where the aspect of brand loyalty for the product kicks in.

Crocs has also caused segregation in the society and made people more opinionated as to what they think of Crocs in a fashion perspective. Some go to the extent of creating a facebook group page and also viral videos to condemn not only Crocs products but also their users.

Despite the hatred that the brand has been receiving, they chose to interpret these negative feedbacks and criticism and turn it into a marketing strategy.

Bad publicity is still good publicity. Check this advert out.

Its normal to have views on a certain product but Crocs has surfaced more problems because of the nature of the product itself. Its either you like it or you don’t.

Crocs @ Work

Discomfort is part of our working life, there is no way to go about avoiding it. However, hyper consumerism make us demand things to come up with solutions and further improve our daily needs. Therefore we believe that this observation inspired crocs to expand their business to manufacture products that caters to certain professional usage.

“Crocs @ work” caters to the healthcare, airlines, food and beverage and hospitality industries. They have benefited from this line of collection, making it easier for them to standardize and create uniformity in their profession. These are some of the industries that require most comfort at work since their job needs them to be mobile and agile, so with the introduction of “crocs @ work”, it makes them feel more comfortable living up to their slogan, “built for your job, feel like a day off”.

As for us, we see Crocs as a construction. Without realizing, consumers actually use them to tell a story about themselves. They are buying the different collections to represent their needs and wants for their feet in their everyday lives. Some may want it for the health benefits, some may want it for full comfort during work or some may even want it because it is trendy yet comfortable.

In that sense they are building how they want others to perceive their public self, making their identity fragmented in a way. We feel that consumers can be customized just like how product is able to because consumers gets opportunities to choose collections according to their needs. An example would be those who prioritize health will go for the “CrocsRX” collection. Those who want to be trendy yet feel comfortable will have a choice to go for the “Crocband” or “Chameleon” collection.

crocs and golf

Crocs has also created a narrative identity for consumers. By introducing their award winning golf edition in 2012 and having a professional golfer to be an ambassedor for their collection, it has certainly convince golfers to buy the product. Having popular golf instructor Hank Haney best known for coaching Tiger Woods as a communication tool to reach out to golfers, those who look up to him as a role model would want to purchase the shoes just to be as good as him.

Jibbitz objectifies us and creates our identity

Some people even succumbed to the idea of owning a croc for the sake of collecting, be in trend or addiction. Through the creation of the Jibbitz, Crocs has also created a relationship with collectors, exciting them to collect their favorite characters and items.

As the slogan for the Jibbitz is “create your story”, Jibbitz actually do tell a story about a person. For example, kids would love to relate their favourite character they see on TVs to their everyday lives. Having Ben10 characters as their jibbitz make them feel like they are Ben10.

Some people are so obsessed that they have to own limited edition of the Jibbitz or the latest pieces. We believe that this is definitely a stunt to make more money to what they are already making because people do buy the idea of creating their own personality through their shoes.

In reference to the quote by Jean Baudrillard’s theory saying that identity is not fixed, but fluid – that’s why it is fragmented, Jibbitz do represent our personality, which represents our fragmented identity. The idea of collecting Jibbitz and to always be updated about the latest Jibbitz collection has also resulted in hyper consumerism. It caters to the consumer culture that makes you want to reassemble your fragmented self.

We believe that Jibbitz has also become a talking point amongst parents, kids and collectors and it has established itself to become a trademark of crocs. It has also connect people together in a social network spawning different kinds of fan bases on each collections of the Jibbitz. It also helps to bridge the gap between the young and the old giving them a common topic to talk about. It allows kids to socialize allowing them to trade Jibbitz amongst their friends.

Furthermore with eye-catching range of colours and the customization of several popular cartoon characters, crocs has further caught the attention from young kids as well as their parents. Competition may also surface as kids will start comparing amongst themselves and also to have the latest designs or models that their friends own.

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3. Mobile Phones

Before we dive head first into this topic, let us take a quick look at the pros and cons of the mobile phone.

Pros

  • Allows for communication with contacts that are not physically near.
  • Keeps us connected with our social circles through social networking applications.
  • Using the in-built media player, it keeps us entertained while commuting or simply when we have nothing to do.
  • Access to information on the go through the web.
  • Great for emergency situations – The relevant authorities are just a call away.

Cons

  • Lose the intimacy of face to face human interaction.
  • Lose confidence of striking up oral conversations with people which presents the risk of becoming anti social.
  • Lose part of our real identity in a sense – Yes we might be the non-stop chatterbox that we are when we’re behind the phone, but is that really who we are in person?
  • Lose focus of our surroundings.
  • Open the flood gates to more harmful social impacts such as making cyber bullying a whole lot easier since it’s mobile now.
  • As it satisfies all social communication needs, it might lead to addiction, which can bring about health issues, counter productivity
  • Mobile phone related crimes – Theft. The very same device that can connect us to the authorities during emergencies, might be the root of the problem after all.
  • Unnecessary spending to keep up with mobile phone trends.

When we think of communication, the first thing that will probably come into any of our minds, would be of people talking. That one single thought would probably include or be followed by a mental image of us using our mobile phones to communicate.

The majority of mobile phones that are being used today fall under the category of smart phones. Exactly like the name suggests, smart phones make us look smart, slick and even more brilliant than ever!

These are essentially light mobile computing platforms that allows access to information on the go with the inbuilt web browser, keep in touch with friends through social networking sites and also keep ourselves entertained with the media player all at once. That’s on top of the normal functions of the mobile phone such as making calls, and sending short messages (SMS) to our contacts.

The mobile phone has become such an important need in our daily lives that without it, people could or most probably will find themselves in disarray. We state that as a fact because the mobile phone acts as an extension of us in every possible sense. It is the one thing we need, to talk to someone who is not directly in front of us. It keeps us entertained as we go on our daily commute. It keeps our lives on track by not only remembering, but also reminding us of our own schedules and appointments. In times of need or emergencies, we can depend on it to help us get the right people.

The dependence that we place on our mobile phones have come to a point whereby we’ve heard people pass comments such as, I’ll probably die if I didn’t have my handphone.

But the fact is, mobile phones are such an integral part of our lives, that we’re most probably going to die with it, rather than without. Don’t you think so?

See what I told you? :/

Furthermore, the use of smartphones have become the centre of gravity for every individual; it compels and drags you into the trend! An easy swipe of the tab gets the phone started, with countless games to play, facebook to surf, videos to watch, whatsapp to chat, you name it you get it instantly! It makes it easy for the laziest of the laziest to reach out to the internet realm and the vast social network. We view it as an essential passport to transport us to the social network in a split second.

The smartphone does it all, caters to our needs, reads our tendencies, records our activities and even show us directions when we are lost. It has essentially converted us into dependent parasites that cling tightly onto it in order to function properly in our daily lives. We have become so hooked onto the technology that we need to have it everywhere we go. It obsoletes the culture of exploring and traveling and changes it into that one that waits for food to be served on the golden platter. It has effectively changed our lifestyle from manual to auto.

The smart phone phenomenon has increased the need for society to upgrade their mobile phones to that of the latest model.
Statistics shows that Singapore has a population of over 5 million people. Out of that number of people, about 150% of them has a mobile subscription to the local telcos. Now that just means that half the population here probably owns multiple mobile devices, or have multiple mobile subscriptions.

The rate of change of mobile phones happens so quickly that we can confidently say that everyone who’s reading this, personally know of people who change their mobile phones every few months just so that they can have the latest device that are equipped with better and more attractive features.

The need of changing our phones reflects on how we want to portray the image of self sufficiency and being ahead of others in terms of technology. It contributes to hyper consumerism as we are constantly buying to keep up with the latest mobile phone trends.

We are in a mad race of purchasing the latest smart phones such as the Apple iphone 4s, Samsung Galaxy s3 and Blackberry to make ourselves look more trendy and cool. This action is actually building an impression for other people to perceive us as a trendsetter so that we are able to draw more attention to ourselves as an individual.

So this leads to the question, “Do we really need smart phones for us to function?”

We were doing perfectly fine before the introduction of these superfluous gimmicks. We used to do face to face interactions more as compared to now. The more we interact physically, the better our communication skills become. These ‘smart’ phones have just undone the innate skills we used to develop via human speech. People can just text one another instantly using whatsapp without having to physically meet each other. It makes us lose the confidence in striking up oral conversations with people.


The excessive use of smart phones contributes to the gradual alienation of every individual in society.

As we immerse ourselves into intangible conversations on our smart phones, we don’t only start to lose focus of the relationship that we used to have with other people, we also tend to lose the identity we usually present to others during face to face conversations. We might be the non-stop chatterbox that we are when we are behind the phone, but that does not define who we really are in person. The technology itself has constructed a barrier between communicating parties, resulting in a fragmentation of our identities.

With the fragmentation of our identities, we are so paranoid on how the public perceive us that it inhabit a culture of us to rather text message than talking on the phone. By doing this, we are able to so-called hide ourselves behind this wall of text messages. It will also allow us to be in control of whatever information that is being leaked out from us and that will in turn shape the perception of the public towards us.

When we call someone, we start to consider whether our tone of voice is correct, will we lose our temper, will we be able to make the conversation interesting? We can easily get away from these social anxieties with the use of the various messaging services provided by these smart phones. We believe that if we continue to use smartphones to communicate, we will gradually lose the authenticity of our identities, thus resulting in a fragmentation of our identities.

We have become victims to our obsession of smart phones and this obsessive consumerism has turned us into a technology that requires consistent upgrading, no different to the computer we use nowadays.

Buying and upgrading our mobile phones are not the only thing that is shaping our identity, in fact, the choosing and buying of apps are also used to compliment our public identity. For example, if we want to portray ourselves as a responsible person, keeping up to date with happenings around the world, we can just download apps from different major publisher of newspaper. By downloading apps that calculate our calories intake and BMI, it will make us look like a person who is very health conscious.

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After all of our observations and the stories told by the three objects that were chosen by us, you can see that we strongly agree that EVERY OBJECT OUT THERE TELLS A STORY. Be it about the object itself or us as human beings. How we see it is as though objects around us were created due to our need from hyper consumerism and in turn, we need them to further enhance and express our personalities that will eventually shape us as an individual.

Photo Documentation Part 1 / 2

We have decided to document the contents of our wallets for this project. It is extremely easy to visualize a person’s daily life from his wallet, but it is something that few of us do on a regular basis. Other than twice yearly clear outs to dump the stacks of faded receipts, nobody puts much thought into their wallets and how they are basically slices of time from our lives – just updated on a high frequency each day.

Reza

DAY 1
Balance: $112
Caption: Just withdrew $100 from the atm.
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NIGHT 1
Balance: $112
Caption: Obviously my life is such a party. 😦
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DAY 2
Balance: $??
Caption: Okay what I said yesternight, I ended up with a last minute Zouk night out. I didn’t want to bring my wallet along because it’s so bulky and all that, so all my cards and cash (if there’s any left) should be somewhere in my jeans.
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NIGHT 2
Balance: $25
Caption: As you can see, apart from the $97 hole i burnt in my wallet from last night, i also managed to accumulate credit card receipts. Yay me. :/
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DAY 3
Balance: $12
Caption: Went for an awesome supper @ changi v last night.
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NIGHT 3
Balance: $2
Caption: Why is it that every single time i step out of the house, i have to spend on something? Especially if there’s school, then i have no choice but to go out!
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DAY 4
Balance: $12
Caption: Do I really have to know about everything that i’m wasting money on?!
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NIGHT 4
Balance: $6
Caption: A double cheeseburger meal a day keeps the pain in your mind at bay.
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Observation/Conclusion:

In this documentation, i feel like i’m the control experiment. Compared to the rest in the group, I feel no attachment whatsoever with the transactions that happen from my wallet. I don’t even keep a coin pouch or keep track of where the coins go! – Which might explain why you don’t see any coins in any of the pictures, just saying.

I’m the kind of person who spends and forgets just so that i’ll be happy with whatever choices I make and not regret it afterwards by keeping track. However, in relation to the very purpose of this documentation, it seems that the more i forced myself to want to go on with this documentation process, the more detached/separated i became from it.

Just the thought of me knowing how much i’m capable of spending in a single day is repulsive. If given a chance, I would rather have no knowledge of my spending habits and continue to be happy with life. Rather than know exactly what i spent on and how much exactly, and be annoyed by it.
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Mavis


DAY 1
Balance: $20
Caption: Payday is almost here! Shall live like a peasant till then. Ah, perks of being a working adult. Wallet from Yves Saint Laurent a few years back – print is nearly faded already. It’s a good wallet, really meets my need to stash receipts from 2009 and frivolous memberships to the weirdest places. Also, from the same collection as my Mom’s document holder – bought it for her dinosaur birthday the same year. When was the last time I spoke to her? Must call. Now.
_______________________________

NIGHT 1
Balance: $2
Caption: What on earth did I spend my money on?! BAD PEASANT. Also, realized I have been keeping the vintage/ancient SGD 1 note for the longest time. Antique!
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DAY 2
Balance: $50
Caption: Drew one of the last dregs of my salary out. Went to AMK Hub for lunch and had time of life pretending to be one of the cashiers at the automated check out at NTUC. Love the red laser scanner light. Spent $20 on treats. Beep beep beep ~
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NIGHT 2
Balance: $10
Caption: Spent $40.00 on Japanese Kit Kats at some obscure little shop. Doing very badly with this peasantry. Nevertheless, atoned by clearing out useless cards and receipts. Wallet is now 4 kg lighter (hahaha).
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DAY 3
Balance: $14
Caption: PAYDAY!!!!! Drew out $20 and spent $6 on lunch. Realized that I disliked drawing money out – prefer cash in le bank account, where it will be safe and ripe for online shopping. Also, shamefully stuffed all cards back in after the ungainly ‘lightness’ of my wallet.
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NIGHT 3
Balance: $30
Caption: Got my weekly fix at Watsons’ with the award-winning Sunplay SPF 70 sunscreen mist (okay, you can stop yawning now boys) and matcha red bean frappe at Starbucks. Should really stop – I need cash, not calories.
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Observation/Conclusion:

Why did we ever do this?? It’s not only guilt-inducing and stressful, I’m now super embarrassed by how un-groomed my wallet is. However, am glad for this experience – found lots of funny neoprints. T’was good for a blast from the past, which is basically what old photographs are able to give you. But since this is a photograph within a photograph… wait for it – PHOTOCEPTION.

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Photo Documentation Part 2 / 2

Kenneth

DAY 1
Balance: $20
Caption: This is my wallet, a Braun Buffel Wallet that was given to me on my 18th birthday by my parents. While going through my wallet to see what I could document, I realized that the most exciting thing that will be happening to my wallet will be the return of my Pink Identification Card soon. As I am currently serving and defending our nation, I have in my possession a Singapore Armed Forces Identification Card. My usual Pink Identification Card was removed from me when I enlisted 2 years ago and in a week’s time, it will finally be coming back to me.
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NIGHT 1
Balance: $20
Caption: While going through the cards in my wallet, I realized that I have very little cards in possession. My identification card, my individual bank cards, my ez-link card and my credit card are the only cards I have on hand now. I guess my 1 and a half year trip in USA helped me removed any unnecessary items in my wallet. In case you are wondering, I was actually sent over to the States to serve my National Service for a year and a half, and that period taught me on the importance of having a light wallet as when your buttocks are on a seat for 26 hours flight, a thick wallet is not very nice to sit on.
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DAY 2
Balance: $50
Caption: I finally decided to get out of my comfortable home and do what I have been procrastinating for the longest time, which is the booking of my basic theory test for driving. As I got my license in the States, I have to go through this test before I will be able to convert it into a Singapore Driving License. I’m pretty nervous about it as I always dislike studying for exams of any kind. I hope I can pass!
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NIGHT 2
Balance: $12
Caption: After a long day out, I realized that money seems to fly out of my pockets without my realization! As far as I can remember, I don’t remember buying anything while I was out but I seem to be 38 dollars poorer. I guess this documentation might be a good thing after all, I can finally track my spending and try to get into the habit of saving some money as I always seem to spend what I get.
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DAY 3
Balance: $20
Caption: Papers and receipts are starting to pile up in my wallet! I guess I will have to tidy up my wallet soon. Let’s hope that I would not procrastinate on that too long. Looking through these receipts, I realized that although I do not buy things often, I usually buy something really expensive to compensate for the lack of times that I shop. I still have a receipt of a 1.6k guitar that I bought in US. Not that I’m complaining, the guitar is pretty darn awesome.
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NIGHT 3
Balance: $20
Caption: Wow, I look so different as compared I was last time. This picture was taken before I enlisted in the army and I can’t believe how long my hair was in the past. Everyone that I knew did not recognize me when I showed them this picture and they also said that I look much better now in shorter hair. I laughed when they said that, I don’t regret leaving my hair to grow, at least I know that long hair is a “no no” for me!
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DAY 4
Balance: $20
Caption: I finally cleaned up my wallet! I’m glad I did not procrastinate as much as I thought I would have. Here’s hoping that I can maintain it that way. I guess there is something about documentation that makes people self conscious of themselves. I remember the video that Reinar showed about people having unnatural expression on their faces when they took a photo of themselves in the studio in the past, I personally think that those people were self conscious about how they were looking and decided to go for their natural look so that nothing will go wrong in their photos.
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NIGHT 4
Balance: $6
Caption: I know I said I will stop spending money and save up but the temptation of supper and friends was too good to be denied! At least I had fun hanging out with my friends, I sure missed talking to them while I was away. I’ve known them since I was 8, now that I have penned it down, I realized that I have been friends with them for 14 years! A decade has just went by me with a snap of a finger, and we’re still making time to meet up with each other. Such friends are hard to come by and I’m glad to be able to call them friends.
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Observation/Conclusion:

After 4 days of documentation, I realized that I became very self conscious. I actually cleaned up my wallet and made it more presentable so that it will look nice on camera. This is something that I would have never done if I was not documenting it. I also took note of my spending and tried my best not to spend on anything that I don’t need.

It also made me feel detached from myself even though I was only documenting something that I use. I felt like I was looking at myself from a God’s eye view and I was monitoring my very own actions! I don’t know about everyone else, but I sure do not reflect on myself on a daily basis like how I was doing when I was taking the pictures of my wallet!

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 Syarif

DAY 1
Balance: $4
Caption: My Fossil leather wallet. It was a gift from my cousin for my 22nd birthday.  I don’t really pay much attention to my wallet. It is just a daily necessity where I stuff my receipt, cash, cards and coins. When I took a picture of my wallet, then I realized how evil I have been, it is as though I have been abusing it. It has been serving me everyday, it has been a part of my life ever since I used it but I don’t seem to care about it. Just look at it lying there hopelessly. 😦
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NIGHT 1
Balance: $4
Caption: Before I slept I decided to “explore” my wallet. Believe it or not I spent a good 45mins on my wallet. It actually got me thinking deep. When I went through all the things that I stuffed in my wallet, I then realized that my wallet is actually full of stories. It is in a way bringing me back into time. When I saw my Temasek Poly student card, it made me reminisce the good moments in that school, sleepless nights at friends’ houses trying to finish up projects and memorable parties we had together. That was a great feeling. Different cards made me remember my different walks of life. Man!! This wallet is rich!
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DAY 2
Balance: $250
Caption: My Free day! I decided to spend the day in Johore Bahru, the nearest get a way. Cheap Petrol, seafood and grocery shopping! I went there with a couple of my friends. Really excited about it because this kind of moments do not come often with our busy schedule. I just realized that there was no house keeping done to my wallet despite the 45mins I spent on it last night. Infact it is going to get messier with receipts. Not good at all.
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NIGHT 2
Balance: RM 10
Caption: From $250 to RM10.00!! I just realized! I told you it was going to get messier with change and receipts. When I took this picture, I was really shagged. Part of me tells me to tidy up but the call from my bed was stronger.
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DAY 3
Balance: RM 10
Caption: Woke up in the morning and head down to the AXS machine straight to pay Bills and Traffic fines! I wish I didn’t have to take this picture. It made me ask myself how many fines have I paid these pat 3 months! My heart ached!! I realized after I took the picture, it really got into me. I told myself I have got to be extra careful on the roads. I wouldn’t want to burn my money just like that.
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NIGHT 3
Balance: $20
Caption: Spent on fines in the afternoon and spent on a birthday present in the evening. It is my brother’s birthday tomorrow and he has always wanted a laptop. The feeling was not as bad as the feeling I had in the afternoon, taking picture of the receipt. I felt happy instead even after spending $1,688 on a birthday present. I can’t wait to see the expression on my brother’s face tomorrow when he receives this.
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DAY 4
Balance: $20
Caption: These past few days my wallet has been really heavy because of the amount of coins I have! Just look at it. A mixture of Singapore and Malaysia coins. When I took the picture I then realize that my ignorant self is not doing me any good. My wallet is getting heavier without me realizing, it is affecting its accessibility. I feel lazier to bring it out of the car due to its weight. Something really needs to be done.
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NIGHT 4
Balance: $20
Caption:
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 Observation/Conclusion:

Documenting my wallet these past 4 days really made a difference. Taking a picture of my wallet really mad me look at it from a whole new perspective and dimension. I realized I actually put some thought about my wallet after taking picture of it. As weird as it may sound, it is as though my wallet is a living thing. I decided to make my self-feel good being the last time that I am going to document it. I bought leather polish and cleared up the entire wallet. Everybody wants to look good in pictures so does my wallet. 🙂

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Yong Hao

DAY 1
Balance: $52
Caption: This is the faux leather wallet that was given to me by my aunt 2 years old ago and it has been durable and in good condition till now.  I drew the 50 dollars note from the ATM the day before. The receipt of nets transaction made me feel particularly conscious of my spending.
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NIGHT 1
Balance: $52
Caption: I start to feel awkward about photographing the contents of my wallet. I feel that I am starting to intrude my wallet’s personal space and privacy.
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DAY 2
Balance: $70
Caption: This activity of documenting the contents of my personal item has become routinely strange and uncomfortable to the point where i can’t even focus anymore (pun intended there). I start to question if it is right to scrutinize the monetary contents of my wallet and whether if the photograph taken will show my personality when it comes to expenditure.
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NIGHT 2
Balance: $60
Caption: When I attempt to take this photograph, I did not bother clearing the receipts in the notes compartment. I feel that I have given a new undiscovered meaning to the contents of my wallet through the lens of my camera. My wallet starts to become more than a display of monetary cash; it shows how tidy or untidy I am. It reflects on the user of the wallet.
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DAY 3
Balance: $52
Caption: As I spread open my wallet consciously in front of my iphone camera, I felt the motivation to show the off-pass I have gotten from my boss in camp. The act of photographing this subject preempted me to prepare the contents of my wallet.
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NIGHT 3
Balance: $45
Caption: This act of documentation compelled me to lift out the contents of my wallet in front of the camera. I realize that the world beyond the lens expresses more than what we see with our naked eye. It summarizes my daily activity.
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Observation/Conclusion:

The act of documentation affects the way I perceive my wallet. It gives significance and meaning to something that used to be so mundane and overlooked. It feels like I am being isolated from the subject and concurrently, the picture of the wallet attempts to link its meaning back to me. It creates a push and pull relationship.

The various compartments of the wallet reflects on the personality and habit of the user. The act of capturing those contents creates a third person sense of objectivity. That objectivity is being taken away and replaced with subjectivity when the user starts to perceive the photograph. The process of diligently photographing my wallet increases my awareness and concern of what is exactly being captured.

I feel that I have been intruding the privacy of a non-living thing that tries desperately to communicate with the world via this simple act of photo-documentation.

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Photography

Elevating the ordinary to extraordinary

More often than not, photography is primarily about the subject that we are framing to capture that moment in time in which we are able to immortalize it. This said ‘subject’ can be something that captures the attention of many, or it could just be something that doesn’t interest anyone else but the photographer.

Essentially, taking a photograph of a particular subject, is in itself a process of making a choice; The decision to make something stand out from it’s surroundings. It could be anything boring that we see in our daily lives, like a child eating ice cream, or an old man pushing a cart. But once that shutter is pressed, it shows that a decision has been made to bring that particular subject to attention.

In the society we are currently in, photographs are mostly a social tool. We use ‘self photography’ to take pictures of things like events that we attend, or products that we just bought and took a picture of just to tell the facebook world that we’ve got that new item on the shelf that everyone’s craving for. If you look closely at the photos posted on social sites, there is a constant factor in all of them in which there is this presence of the need for everything to look good. It’s as if there was a benchmark set for how things should look in photos.

Can we eat now? PLEASE????

From this, we believe that in this age, vanity rules over photography especially when it comes to photos that are being posted on social sites. However normal looking and ordinary the subject of a photo might be, we constantly have the urge to make it look nicer in photos. Be it through editing, by changing the camera angles or just simply by taking multiple shots of it just to convince ourselves that there’s going to be a ‘better’ photo the next time we press the shutter. In this way, we find that we constantly try to elevate the ordinary subject to make it appear out of this world to others.

This very same concept of self-induced vanity in photography applies to the documentation that we are currently working on. We decided to take pictures of our wallets to document our expenditure and the subconscious reactions that we experience through this documentation. As we go on taking snapshots of the our wallets, some of us became more aware of how messy our wallets are. This is most probably because of the vanity that we explained earlier on. We subconsciously reacted to the stereotypical thought that people would probably think of us in a certain negative way if they were to see how messy our wallets are. This in turn gave rise to the need to tidy the contents of our wallets before taking the picture itself.

Photograph being part of our vernacular

In the past, when photography and cameras were just created, pictures can only be taken in the studio due to the sheer size of the machine, and it also was only meant for the rich and not for the masses.

19th Century Studio Camera

However, when George Eastman created the “Kodak” and “the Brownie”, it revolutionized the whole idea of photography. Pictures can be taken anywhere and everyone had access to it.

Early Kodak Advertisement

“The Brownie”

So much so that it became a part of our communications. Gone were the days where people have to painstakingly think of words to describe a place of beauty or having to spend days and months of painting to re-create what a photograph can do in seconds. With just a snap of a finger, a photograph is able to tell someone how magnificent a monument in another country is or how the war brought upon death and destruction everywhere.

This led to it being part of our everyday lives today. Nowadays, almost every mobile phone out there has a camera attached to it, making it accessible. It was also very easy to have the photos that were taken, available for viewing. Anyone can just snap a photo of anything that they find interesting and upload it via the Internet and everyone will be able to view it. There are also many mediums on the Internet now that assist us in showcasing our photos and our snippets of the past.

Using a camera phone to take pictures

An example would be the much maligned Facebook Timeline.

In the past, Facebook was just a collection of photographs or albums and status updates of people. With the new revamp, Facebook has organized our photos in accordance of when it was uploaded or when we are tagged in photos. This creates a window to our past. Now we can go through our own profile and find out how much we have changed and things that we were doing back then and not doing now.

Through this change, Facebook has even more so become part of our lives; they are essentially helping us to create a timeline (no pun intended) of how we evolved as an individual without any hassle of manually creating photo albums. Everyone, including ourselves, will be able to look back through the events that shaped us as the people we are today.

Photography can also be viewed as an extension of our vision and perception. Concurrently, it can be seen as a distortion or abstraction of reality. It is a significant aspect of our modern lives as it gives us the opportunity to communicate visually.

A picture taken through the lens of the camera, shapes the subject into an idea that is potentially capable of holding different meanings for us as individuals. Photography changes the way we used to perceive reality and each picture taken embeds an alternate realm parallel to the world we live in.

We seemingly go about our daily lives, taking the act of photography for granted as we try so hard to rationalize and present ideas through mediated forms of communication. Ironically, the message we convey is very distant from the reality we hope to portray. Photography has become so integrated into our vernacular that we innately use them as a tool to market, distribute and advertise our ideas.


the use of a photograph in a brochure.

Photographs are used to communicate ideas in advertising, storyboarding, marketing and also in various pre-production work-flows of larger scaled projects. In the realm of marketing, photography plays an important role in highlighting the features of the product.

As consumers, we are largely concerned by the physical appearance of what we buy as compared to what we read. Companies photograph the product, hoping to capture it in a positive light. Consumers develop different perceptions of the said product by looking at the photograph imprinted on the packaging. This simple act of photographing has made huge ripples of impact on the way we communicate in a professional context. It affects the rate of demand, the popularity and the desirability of the product.

On the other hand, photographs are being used for shock-advertisements, a controversial form of promoting ideals and beliefs through the use of photographs that attract your attention.
Below are some of the examples.

One of our groupmates actually had the experience of using photo-storyboarding as he was from a course that specialised in film and production. He, as a director, used photographs for the purpose of planning in pre-production processes. For instance, in a film set, he used a series of photographs in a photo-storyboard to visually discuss his perception of the script to the camera man. The storyboard assisted him in composing the aesthetic, the angle, the distance and also the expression of the shot. He actually realised how important a part photography plays in conveying the director’s vision to the camera man.

Not only have directors been using photography to communicate better with their crews, social web developers have also taken this advantage to make photography as a form of social media. Instagram is one social media that was born from this idea.

A distinctive feature of Instagram is that it confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras.

Instagram is a free photo-sharing programme that was launched in October 2010 and the number of users has reached more than 30 million.

It allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it and then share it on a variety of social networking services, including Instagram’s very own.

For most Instagram addicts like us, almost everyday when we wake up, the first App on our mobile phones that we’ll fire up would be Instagram. Our timeline would be updated and we will be fed with happenings that we’ve missed out while sleeping. We’re also able to view pictures that friends all over the world upload.

Relationship between fans and artiste’s will also be on a more personal level, as they’re able to keep up with what their idols everyday life.

Instagram users will get to view each and every picture their followers took and if they love that particular picture, they would “like” it. The amazing thing that we feel about Instagram is that it allows us to form a community through photo taking.

Instagram has been a great medium for photo enthusiast to share their work and passion for photography with the masses. They will be able to exchange comments and even knowledge through feedbacks of others.

Instagram has also been used as a business platform for businessmen as a marketing and advertising tool to promote or sell their services. This is a common practice nowadays especially for budding entrepreneurs who might not have a huge capital to buy spaces for ads.

We can see that Instagram can also be used as a form of motivation for some to reach their own personal goals. Our friend who is currently on a 7kg to go mission, post his daily routines and regimes on Instagram. He will then receive encouragement from others, motivating him and at the same time putting pressure on him to achieve his goal.

Instagram has also made the world closer in the sense that you’re able to keep up with your love ones from the other side of the world through their daily uploads.

We believe that Instagram has elevated photography in a light whereby people are able to relate better even when they are not professionals. It has also made it so much easier for us to communicate in our daily lives through photographs. It is amazing how Instagram has evolved photography into a medium for factual communication of ideas.

Without realising it, photographs have become a major part of our lives. If you were to ask anybody now, whether they can go about life without photographs, the answer that you will get will probably be a BIG FAT NO.

Franklin Gothic

Font      /fänt/
Noun: a complete assortment of type of one style and size.

When we use a font, have you ever thought about the emotions that it carries along with it? Let us give some examples, when we use Comic Sans, we feel like it’s time for fun and games. It’s informal and kiddy. With Times New Roman, it brings about a sense of responsibility and formality. With Symbol…. WE DON’T UNDERSTAND!

So how about Franklin Gothic? What was the purpose of it’s creation and what is it supposed to be used for?

Let’s start with a little history class, shall we?

The famous Franklin Gothic font was created by Morris Fuller Benton for American Type Founders (ATF) in 1902. It is a realist sans-serif font (Gothic was a term for sans-serif) and is considered the “patriarch of all modern American gothic typefaces”. The original purpose for its design was for newspapers (headlines and body copy) and where space is limited.

Named in honor of prolific American printer Benjamin Franklin, the arguably most widely-used font in the world is often the typeface du jour for advertisers and publishers. Franklin Gothic is used for any and all headline and body copy when there is a need for smooth power and simple authority. That is why it is frequently utilized in ads and print media.

Franklin Gothic is one of those classic typefaces. Much like Helvetica, it is a font that allows quick and crystal clear understanding due to its high legibility. While Helvetica is about the empty space between the lines, Franklin Gothic is all about the lines themselves. Slim cut and neat, it allows for economy of space while maintaining the aesthetic value of the type.

20120722-213638.jpg
Typeface used on The Dark Knight poster artwork

Franklin Gothic is similar to Helvetica in the sense that they are fonts you can’t explain away their use because they’re just there. They have been in our lives for so long that we have gotten so used to them that we don’t even question why. And because of their clean, uniform lines, it is a neutral font. It can look corporate, fun, cheeky, intimidating, sad or whatever tone you want it to be because it’s a font that is moulded by its copy and how it sits on a page. In a nutshell, Franklin Gothic is a classic font that will withstand time and trends due to its high legibility, convenient economy of space and simple aesthetic quality.

Timeline

Ideals in use

Loesje (Literature on education and the arts), an international organization in Arnhern (Netherlands) uses the Franklin Gothic typeface on its posters to promote the idea of democracy. Loesje’s ideal is based on creativity, positive criticism, philosophical thoughts on current affairs and events. Franklin Gothic as a realist font helps to communicate Loesje’s democratic ideals in a concise and straightforward manner. It paints reality in the exact way as reality would present itself.

The texts are given a sense of modern simplicity using the Franklin Gothic typeface. The Franklin Gothic typeface enhances the statement in Loesje’s posters as it helps to ensure that the value of democracy remain relevant and significant to reality’s context.

This poster describes freedom of speech in a whimsical manner utilizes the neutrality of Franklin Gothic typeface. Due to the typeface’s clean and uniform lines, the poster is able to present the idea of free speech in a cheeky yet significant tone.

From the example given above, we feel that Franklin Gothic plays on the ideal of realism as suggested by its origin to the realist sans-serif font. Its usage in newspapers, advertisements, publishers and even television programmes shows the need for clear, concise and direct communication without losing power and authority.

Uses and Adaptations of Franklin Gothic

The PBS series, The Electric Company uses Franklin Gothic as its resident type face for the content they churn out for children on television.


Above shows the Franklin Gothic typeface in the directory wall of the museum of modern art.

The metal set of Franklin Gothic in the museum of modern art’s department of graphic design.

Above is an example of using typeface for advertising in the music industry. Franklin Gothic Typeface is used for Lady Gaga’s album cover “The Fame Monster”.

Franklin Gothic typeface being used for advertising purposes in movies such as “Rocky Balboa”.

The conservative party of Canada uses the Franklin Gothic typeface in its logo.

Corporate Usage

New York University

New York University standardizes its font to Franklin Gothic for all web communications. It became the official primary typeface for all of NYU’s written assignments. The design of this type-face is highly perceptible and it enhances legibility for advertising, packaging and headlines. It clearly shows that New York University expects its students to stay current, standardized and neat in their online media interactions. The choice of this particular typeface speaks highly of this reputable university and its emphasis on objectivity and generality.

The Electric Company

Above is an example of the Electric Company (an educational television series catered to children), using Franklin Gothic as a typeface to educate the younger generation.

In our opinion, this typeface purports the ideal of realism as it helps to educate the audience in a straightforward and down to earth manner. It presents content, such as the simple spelling of the noun “Tea” in a smooth, legible manner, whereby the younger audience can easily grasp and understand. The usage of Franklin Gothic gives the Electric Company a certain extent of basic authority and smooth power as it proves to be one of the most viewed educational children television series in America.

Bank of America

The Bank of America logo is also designed using the Franklin Gothic typeface.

The usage of this pure and simple typeface suggests that the bank is prudent, cost-saving and simple in its ideals. Franklin Gothic puts emphasis on down-to-earth practicality and simplicity.

The use of Franklin Gothic in the logo gives us the vibe that  “it is a mere bank that values customers from different classes, it harbours no ulterior motives, it is just the way it is to the naked eye”. We are convinced that the font portray the Bank of America in a credible and honest manner without losing any sense of pride and authority.

Time Magazine

After 40 years of use, Franklin Gothic is Time magazine, and if you bring back other typefaces that were use for headlines in time magazine, it would definitely not resonate the feel of Time.

There are many offshoots to the original Franklin Gothic type. Many of which are adaptations of the original Franklin Gothic typeface which are handrawn, or as inspiration that evolved into an entirely new typeface. Some of these  can be found in advertorials or even magazine covers. An example of this would be on a February issue of Time magazine this year, shown below.

Time magazine, 27th February 2012

The treatment for this cover’s lettering got its inspiration from communists propaganda posters, while maintaining some of the general features of Franklin Gothic which has always been an icon on the covers of Time magazine.

Starbucks

Starbucks is another big name that adapted the Franklin Gothic type.

The starbucks logo was done in the pre-computer era. Inspired by Franklin Gothic, the lettering was hand drawn and customized to better suit the circular logo.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Another example would be with the Museum of Modern Art. It has one of the most renowned logotype of any cultural institution. The Franklin Gothic no. 2 logotype, an adaptation of the original Franklin Gothic typeface became a brand name with the museum.

WIth the success of their branding, MoMA redrew a new custom typeface called the MoMA Gothic which gained it’s roots from the original Franklin Gothic typeface.

The museum of modern art in New York has been using Franklin Gothic as its official typeface ever since the 1930s. It has been the primary influence for all of their materials and even their logo as shown below.

The museum of modern art employs the use of the Franklin Gothic Typeface in one of its 1930s wall label.

Overall, we feel that Franklin Gothic has played a significant role in evolution of typefaces which probably led to the creation of Helvetica which proceeded on to revolutionized the advertising and typeface design industry.

Tech. Determinism

The printing press is the machine that made us

Imagine a world where books are only accessible to the rich, and technology is stagnant. You’ll know the world wouldn’t be what it is today.

If you observe closely, a lot of the technologies that we see today actually evolved from the concept of the printing press and mass production. This brought about the growth of innovation and education, something that is not possible during the period of scribing. As a result, books can be mass produced and therefore information becomes easily accessible to us, improving our knowledge and intelligence.

In the past, the system of educating depends largely on the carving of stones and verbal communication. The printing press revolutionized the methodology of education, providing everyone identical copies of prints which what we know now as our text-books.

The mass-producing capability of the printing press has has set a stage for an equal opportunity of education.  We are the beneficiaries of this mass-producing capability as books are made cheaper and are available to anyone who has the heart to learn from any walks of life.

Additionally, the printing press has allowed us to transmit our ideologies, our beliefs, our religion and our history. It has also improved communication across different societies by giving our ideas a “ticket to ride”.

As we move up to the digital age, the printing press has its fair share of influence on the technologies that shape our lives. The introduction of the printing press encourages us to actively seek ideas to improve our standards of living. It is the first invention that effectuated the idea of mass communication and at the same time motivated people to invent new ways of sharing ideas. An example of an invention would be the internet, a cultural phenomenon that made us what we are today.

The absence of the printing press will destroy whatever we are today. We could have been a bunch of uncivilized and illiterate creatures without the invention of books and prints.

So yes, printing press could be part of the evolution that makes us what we are today. However, growing up in the digital age, we also believe that there were many other factors and inventions that helped to shape our lives which included the ideas and technologies that comes along with it.

The humanly need to share ideas is big enough a reason for us to think that what we are today is not just because of the printing press. The invention of the printing press was probably based on mankind’s idea of sharing information, making it available to the masses. Without our need to share ideas, technology cannot possibly have evolved to what it is today and make our lives what it is.

We also find ourselves thinking about the invention of the wheel which made modern mechanics and inventions of modern day machines even possible in the first place. Also because it probably wasn’t possible for Guternberg to have made mass production a feature of the printing press if it wasn’t for the machines which inspired him on how to go about it in the first place.

From the simple idea of the wheel, machinery evolved to greater things. It helped people to think of different ways to manipulate problems and use  knowledge and ideas to come up with mechanical solutions. Machines probably introduced the idea that anything is possible which would explain our undying need to simplify our lives through the use of technology.

Without machines, the idea of mass production wouldn’t have been possible. Which probably would have meant that we wouldn’t have come through the digital age at all had we not been able to harness electricity or to even mass produce the earliest transistors.

Without technology and everything digital, we would probably not be what we are as a society right now. And when we think further into it,  this wouldn’t have been possible without machines, or the invention of the wheel as that was probably what technology originally evolved from.

Our lives and technology

There are two sides to every story, and our stand on this is conflicted. We can’t answer this with a resounding yes because there are still some naysaying voices in our heads. Instead, we would like to present this as a chicken and egg argument.

Remember when Avatar 3D came out in 2009? The world gasped in amazement as realistic wildlife and landscapes leaped out of the screen. It was a first for human emotions to be captured in its entirety on computed generated visuals.

This is as real as agony can get.

But James Cameron had had the vision and story for Avatar since 1994, which was 3 years BEFORE Titanic was released! According to him, he had to wait for more than 10 years before work for his masterpiece could commence as the technology then was not advanced enough to do justice to his film. Even then, he had to co-develop  a new generation of cameras after he grew tired of waiting.

When the film was finally released in two decades later in 2009, it made history with its astounding 3D effects. It was also hailed to be potentially as big a leap in viewing technology as black-and-white to colour television. It was acclaimed critically and broke box office records worldwide.

But can you imagine if Cameron died before his vision could be realized? We would never see the beauty of true 3D and who knows, it could take decades before someone else as inspired and determined as him try to make true 3D come to life. Not to mention that without the success, credibility or genius that Cameron has to back him up, this project might never see the light of day without the rigorous financial backing.

Or what if he could have made the film in its full glory in 1999 like he had originally planned? Would the evolution in movies and televisions had been able to take place that  much earlier, and we would have been in full 4D by now?

What we’re trying to illustrate with the above example is that technology really defines our life in a huge way. One revolutionary movie is able to flip the entire industry upside down and open up a whole new consumer market worldwide and that is how technology is able to create and shape our lives.

 

Talking about high definition images, bombastic effects and films magnificent colours, all of that would not really be possible without the technology of cameras and photography. Don’t you think so?

How would we capture memories, moments and happenings if it weren’t for the technology of photography? How would we even know how Adolf Hitler exactly looked like if it wasn’t for photography? Would films and movies even exist this very day if it wasn’t for photography? Think about it. The invention of cameras and the birth of the art of photography just convinced us that technology actually played a huge role, in fact a major role in determining our lives and shaping our society to what we are today.

Before photographic cameras were invented, camera obscura already existed. A device dating back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks which uses a pinhole or lens to project an image of the scene outside, upside down onto a viewing surface. Yes, Images were captured but it could not be made permanent. There was no way to preserve these images apart from manually tracing them.

In 1826, Nicephore Niepce took the first permanent photograph from nature, a landscape that required an eight-hour exposure. What he did was he coated a pewter plate with bitumen and then exposing the plate in his camera. Where light struck, it allowed the bitumen to harden leaving the unhardened areas to dissolve away. Up till today, the photograph still survives. With his invention, the renaissance of cameras and photography started.

In 1835, William Fox Talbot created his own photography process. He invented the positive and negative process widely used in modern photography. He referred to it as photogenic drawing. These happenings started men thinking of ways to capture images to make them look as realistic as images captured by their eyes. As the invention slowly spread across the world, it enticed the minds of humans into exploration and improvisation of cameras and the wonders of photography.

In 1861, the first colored photograph, James Clerk Maxwell showed an image of a tartan ribbon. In 1887, the first celluloid film base was first introduced and that kick started the era of film photography. In 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumiere invented cinematographe. Photography then evolved into cinematography. The technology of photography continued to evolve until today.

First color image by Maxwell, 1861

Just like the print, happenings and moments were captured on words. They were written down on books making it permanent in a way. It preserved stories of the past. It enabled these stories to be passed on to the next generation enabling them to have the same idea and knowledge of a happening that they did not experience.

However there is only so much that they can read. People had to use their power of imagination. For example, before photography was invented, people had to imagine how someone great in the past looked like, just like Jonhannes Guternberg, he did not live long enough for his portrait to be captured. That is why we see different versions of him because different people have different imagination of how he looks like.

Johannes Gutenberg 1

Johannes Gutenberg 2

Johannes Gutenberg 3

Hence, when cameras and photography was born, it further enhance standardization across the world. Everybody would have the same idea of how someone looks like and how a particular place looks like. People could relate to happenings and stories better as visuals made it stronger and more believable. Knowledge was also able to be passed on visually enabling people to learn and capture facts and information faster than before.

In today’s digital age where technology continues to grow, if you observe closely, almost everything revolves around the invention of cameras. Movies, video conferencing, computers, television, handphones and many more were all from the idea of capturing visual. The invention of cameras also affects communication greatly.

Today, communication shortens distance. Even when two individuals are at two different places, they can still see each other via web cam. One of our groupmates actually spent a year overseas to serve his national service and because of the web cam communication, it allowed him to be constantly keep in touch more intimately not only with sounds but with visuals. For instance, he can constantly see how much his family members has changed physically over a year.

However, on the other side of the coin, I also think that our lives are not “determined” by technology; in fact, it is the otherwise.

Imagine a world where there was no desire to share information or communicate with anyone, would any of the machines today be developed and produced? Our guess is not. The sole purpose of technology is to satisfy our inbuilt human nature to communicate with another person.

The reason why Johannes Gutenberg was so eager to create the printing press was because he had the desire to share the education that was only available to the wealthy to the less fortunate! Without that desire, the movable type print would not have been invented and machines that we use today would not have existed.

Also, technology is something that we use to shape to fit our different needs, and not vice versa.

Let’s take a look at gunpowder. This primitive technology that was first created by the Chinese in the 9th century in search for immortality for their emperor; it was later used as a component in fireworks and also for guns. The same ingredient was used in totally two different ways and for two different purposes. And through gunpowder, we developed flash powder, which was the basis of the camera flash of today.

Therefore, we are of the opinion that our needs and desires are the one that made technology the way they are today, and without these needs and desires, technology wouldn’t have existed.

Print & its Entourage

Features of print imprinting on society’s features

An ancient scribe painting

Writing was the main medium of communication prior to print. It was considered a form of art especially by scribes whose profession was essentially to write or duplicate books and documents by hand.

We believe that the term ‘art’ involves individual perception and interpretation and can therefore be seen differently by different people. Through this, we can agree that writing was individualistic in a way that the scribes were in control of how the books and documents they wrote were presented. However, they were bound by their own styles and perception of this individualistic art form.

When print came about, it gave birth to an endless possibility of creative ideas. We now have many different options as to how exactly we want to format our texts. These variables include the type, size, style and colour of font, the paragraph alignment of a document and even the exact point of spaces in between lines. With this freedom that print gave, people started to notice the efficiency of standardization.

People could now share their style of writing as compared to when the scribes were bound to their own individual styles. When we look at it from the aspect of work processes, documents could be standardized in a way that they could be processed faster by workers in the same industries and fields. We can see this in many examples such as the format of addresses that are written on letters and even the placing of stamps on the right hand side of an envelope.

Education was also one of the key aspects of our lives that probably evolved through standardization. Which is why now, we have different stages to education that are all standardized such as tertiary, undergraduate and post-graduate education. People from all over the world use these very same ‘industry standards’ to gauge the level of competency of a person.

Standardization also led on to provide formality and uniformity. An easy example would be the way we dress today. Society has shaped us in such a way that we have a different set of attires for different events.

Yes, we know this is the most un-fashionable example ever. Shame on you for judging, tsktsk.

We wear formal suits to work, and when it’s time to let our hair down at a beach party, we’re in comfortable wear. The events that we attend, sets the tone for our look just as how this very same phenomena was first done in print with fonts. There are the work-appropriate serious looking fonts and there were the gimmicky more fun looking fonts that could be used for other purposes.

People also started to format text in certain templates, which were specific to that type of document. The most obvious of which would be in legal documents where there are paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, clauses and such, which were specific to the law industry.

Formality and uniformity of print brought us to formats of different kinds of documents we have today.

When print happened, its key features were mimicked by society because of its significance and what it meant for the human race.

There is a reason why we have names to refer to certain periods of time – an event took place. An event so epic it shapes and moulds the values and roles of the population at that time. It changes mindsets. It transforms lives. It completely shifts existing paradigms and hence, hails the end of the previous age and the beginning of a new era. That’s why we have romantic names to mark their places in history.

We’re currently in the Era of Over-Sharing.

Reproduction is one of the features of print that affected societal features the most. Before print, only the rich can afford to be educated, cultured and to share ideas. The poor had no such choices. As a result, no one can escape their financial class. If you were born poor, you will always be poor. There was no way to move up in the world – not for the lack of hard work, but the lack of affordable education.

And that’s one of the things reproduction has made possible: education for everyone. Ideas and stories were no longer closed to the financially elite and that, opened up possibilities for the poor. If you were smart, educated and worked hard – a comfortable life is not impossible. Everyone has a fair shot at making something of himself. Social castes that were once ironclad can be broken. A poor boy need not grow up to be a poor man.

It has also revamped and created a whole new world of advertising. Before, people have to rely on verbal methods to raise the exposure of their products. Their range was limited and inefficient. With cost efficiency and easy reproduction of materials, advertising to the masses is now not only achievable; it’s efficient and easy to boot. This introduced a whole new industry, with lots of new roles, values, standards and most importantly jobs.

Where would we be now without advertising? What would the world of fashion, beauty and luxury cars be without the power of screaming or whispering your product’s branding into the ear of every relevant consumer through the use of ads?

2) Trace the effects of legacies of print on technology we use today.

a) Typeface and Fonts

It all started with scribes who took writing books and documents by hand to record down stories or happenings about an event as their profession to give you the endless variety of typefaces you can find on your “word” font bar today.  As it was handwritten, different scribes had different art and styles of writing, just like you and me, our handwriting can never look identical. We had scribes from Egypt, Rome, Greece and other parts of the world with different ways of writing and expressing an alphabet. The amount of unexplored art of writing then has actually provided us with the wide range of fonts that is just a click away today.

When the print revolution took over, the founder, Johan Gutenberg actually designed the first typeface for his movable type press. Books were all hand lettered with the same style of the Gothic black letter and the type was standardized across all printing materials at that point of time. As time passes by and more printing shops surfaced, printers began to explore other lettering styles to use as models for their typefaces. More thought was put into creating typeface and this gave rise to the art of typographic design.

Font today is frequently related together with the term typeface although they had clearly understood different meanings before the era of digital typography and the introduction of desktop publishing. In today’s modern world where technology is on our fingertips, softwares for typefaces and fonts are created to enhance the art of type design allowing type designers also known as font designers or developers to continuously provide us with the endless database of fonts that we have today.

b) The use of logos, jargons and slangs

Scribing is the most rudimental way of recording what we hear into a physical form that can be interpreted in different ways. Technological advancement in print has given new voices to the words we design. For instance, the logos, jargons and slangs we use today are in fact the very product of the change in printing culture. This new found liberty of creating a new language within a language has effectively given words a new type of intelligence.

SingTel logos and Coca Cola logos are examples of words that are redesigned to draw direct references to consumerism and commercialization.  It shows that words become more than just words; they have developed a unique voice, pre-eminence and shape.

Words became a language within a language because of print

Words later became more than just words it evolved into shapes within spaces.

The spawn of Internet jargons and slangs is brought on by the realignment of words to create new meaning.  Short forms such as “thks, ur, pls “are invented as a result of convenience and these forms have developed into a cultural language we see nowadays in the Internet. It reflects on how the movable type of print has given us the authority to play with words to create a new language.

c) Photocopying and Duplicating

The ability to duplicate words and walls of text came from the legacies of print. Before the invention of print, everything was handwritten. There was no exact copy of any document ever produce. However, through the genius of Johannes Gutenberg, copies of any document that was created by the combination of movable type and ink in press can be reproduced like the original.

Gutenberg printing press replica

This led to the invention of the photocopier by Chester Charlson. He took the idea from print about producing many copies of documents to just taking any original document and make copies from it.

The creation of print also inspired the creation of CD burners software that we have today. The idea of printing many documents cheaply got transferred over to the music industry.  Creation of vinyl records were costly and impractical due to the sheer size of the object, and using the idea of cost effectiveness from print, we started to move on from vinyl records to a compact disc.  This finally led to companies being able to mass-produce any music album at a relatively cheaper cost compare to the vinyl records.

From Vinyls to CDs

d) Music Mixing

Any DJ’s idea of song mixing can be traced back down to effects of print. When movable type was created, the idea of moving around the different alphabets to form new words also came along, which led to new languages being created.

The concept of movable type might just have inspired the knowledge of music editing, mixing and remixing.

This knowledge of mixing and matching and creation led to music producers and DJ-s’ idea of creating new music from the existing ones in the world right now.  From that, the software for music mixing and remixing was introduced.  The sole purpose of the music mixer software is to allow the music producers and DJ-s to mix different music up and form new beats for the world to enjoy.

Optus/Siri Ads

The Optus Ad

We know that technicallly, there is a huge gap between the orchestra and the whales. Besides the fact that the orchestra and whales are different beings who live in different worlds and speak in different languages, it is a fact that it is physically impossible for a human to properly hear a whale song without artificial modifications and editing.

Meet 52 hertz, who is the loneliest whale in the world as no other whale can hear his song (normal range is 15-20 hertz).

We gathered from the video that the orchestra is the creator of the music used which imitates a language and communication method exclusive to whales. The music itself is the medium in this form of communication, and by imitating the call of whales, the orchestra is able to draw a response from their target audience. In our opinion, the loudspeakers are the communication tools used to amplify the medium in order to physically reach the whales. The underwater microphones are used to physically pick up the initial feedback from the whales with their whale sounds so that the orchestra is able to receive it before the visual and physical response above water.

To us, the ad was efficient in illustrating the point that two beings so different and so tied by their individual boundaries and skill sets are able to connect via a common medium. Even though the language barrier causes a very limited level of understanding, basic communication is still established. This is evident through the whales’ response.

Claims of communication that the ad articulate

From our perspective, the advertisement projected the idea that communications knows no boundaries.

Even though humans and whales are mammals, there is clearly a communication barrier between us and them. They were unable to hear the whales’ call due to the nature of their frequency and also because of the whales’ lack of understanding of any human language. However, through innovation and technology, communications are no longer bound by these issues and these barriers can now be broken to have a limited exchange.

Also, we think that the advertisement is claiming that distance between individuals is no longer an issue with communication.

We feel that the ad is also claiming that the company will utilize every possible avenue and technology available to make the impossible, possible.

By utilizing technology, the difficulty in communication between the humans and the whales due to distance has been downsized. The orchestra were moved closer to the whales’ habitat and speakers were furthermore added into the mix to amplify pseudo whale calls made by the orchestra on the surface. Thus this made it possible for the whales, who lives underwater, to hear the music played effectively. Also, microphones were placed to project the responses of the whales into a frequency and volume that the orchestra were able to listen to.

However, being children of post-modernism, we are slightly suspicious and cynical of the ad because we know that deep down, communication between animal and human is still impossible currently. The extremity of the ad will sell well to the typical consumer, but not to communicators like us.

For us, the Optus advertisement somehow engages the nature loving spirit in the society, which would probably be effective to just a fragment of the market. So in contrast to the above video, we have found another advertisement by a different telecomm company that would probably be more suited to the the general public.

 It lacks the bam of the  Optus ad, but this Telecom NZ piece gets the message across with a lot more heart.

The Apple Ad

On the surface, we can see Apple promoting an easier day to day life for potential consumers with Siri playing the role of the ever loyal personal assistant.

The multi-tasking, ever loyal personal assistant.

Amongst other things, this technology can help to type and send messages, schedule and keep track of your meetings. It can be the one stop centre for all the questions that you want answered or even a friend that you can joke with. However, there are many other things that you can learn from this ad, apart from it being just a marketing tool for a product.

Not so long ago, when we think of artificial intelligence – like super smart robots that can practically think for you the first thing that would probably come to mind is a super computer that only the likes of Tony Stark can afford. Either that, or just a distant dream in a very faraway future. However, we have been proven wrong with the creation of consumer technologies such as Siri. The ad is claiming that the leaps and bounds made in communication technology has made them accessible to anyone and everyone.

Iron Man and his ultra high tech toys.

Furthermore, Siri is a result of the ever growing advancements in communication technologies. It is a type of artificial intelligence that has the ability to learn and adapt better to its users’ needs the more it is used. As a result of this ability, coupled with the fact that millions of users around the world are using it on a daily basis, this technology can experience an exponential growth and can continue to evolve to better replicate the human mind in terms of delivering what people want and need.

The ad also goes on to claim that communication technology has the potential to replace the roles of humans in society. The first job that is replaceable by Siri would be the  personal assistant, but as it grows, this leap in communication technology may very well be able to play your sarcastic best friend, your placating concierge as well as a patient parent.

Comes with 32 Gb of memory and a whole lot of wit.

A concierge who’s up for anything

 

Mom, do you think it’ll snow today?

In itself, Siri shows that technology has evolved in a way that the masses can now own a supercomputer right in the palms of their hands. We can say that technology has been simplified to make it easier for the average person to go through his daily life. However, it is also possible that the tables might turn in the near future.

For the longest time, scientists and engineers have been trying to replicate human intelligence. Over the best part of a decade, we believed robots to be the closest that science and technology has come to artificial intelligence. This ad is claiming that we should throw out any preconceptions we have about communication technology because the future of artificial intelligence is here, and it is way smarter than we can ever hope to be.

Since Siri has the capacity to grow at an alarming rate with human input, it might very well be simplifying itself so that we are able to understand it. In addition, it is already able to form its own opinions about the weather, our social life based on the facts and results gleamed from the Internet, our calendar and our browsing patterns. It is claiming that communication technology is moving at such a rapid rate, within time, it will be able to replace human communication – but better yet: there is no noise involved in this exchange.

Siri as an extension of our bodies

We believe that even though Siri might very well be the extension of the entire body, it is ultimately the embodiment of our brain because our brain controls our body.

It emulates the human mind in terms of recording, processing and responding. For instance, Siri is capable of keeping track of information like a memory vault,  and that is tantamount to how we register information and experiences in our minds.

It is similar to the way we recall any piece of information from the back of our minds. Just picture yourself reading a book or an encyclopedia, facts and information that you have read will automatically be recorded down in your brain and we will be able to recall the same information when needed. Just like how Siri is able to keep track of the information that we provide and recognize our preferred choice of answers.

We are able to tap into this particular bank of information by posing a verbal query to Siri and in return, it will provide us with the appropriate answers. Instead of looking for answers via a multitude of different sources, Siri is able to provide us with relevant choices and alternatives immediately.

With the use of this extension, we will neglect a couple of manual functions we used to employ using our brains.

Firstly, it amputates our analytical skills, interpretation and our creativity. We have this proclivity to rely on Siri for everything we need. Over reliance of this particular extension effectively eliminates our motivation, initiative and willingness to source for the information we need.

Secondly, it dulls our physical skill of typing. Those of us who uses Siri on a regular basis admits that with its speech recognition and responding capabilities, it makes us fully dependent on it hence making us lazy and reluctant to use the actual functions of the iPhone without it.

Before Siri, we had to type and search manually for everything we want on the iPhone. Since Siri, every bit of information is served to us on a plate.

Despite neglecting the skills that we used to have before the integration of this extension, it has certainly enhanced our ability to make snap decisions since Siri streamlines and offers the most relevant options and answers without giving us room to dawdle and digress.

Communication

Defining Communications

Communications is the process where a message, information or even an idea is being delivered successfully to another individual. What we mean by successfully delivered is when the receiver actually understands the exact message or idea that the sender intended to convey. When a person is talking, the other person should listen so that he will understand what the other person is talking about. When a person talks and nobody listens, there is no communication happening because there is no understanding. We also cannot have two people talking at the same time and no one listening, communication will definitely not be effective when that happens.

Communication is also not bound by face-to-face interaction. It has given us the ability to share information by using different means. Categorizing it into two categories, physical and mechanical. Physical takes place when the person who is talking can be seen or heard. We will not only be able to hear what the person is saying, we will also be able to better understand the message that is being sent across through nonverbal cues such as the person’s body language, facial expressions and more.

Such examples would be as simple as exclusive face-to-face meetings to large business meetings or even video conferences. Through the years, mediums of communication have evolved through the advancements of technology. This greatly influences the communication processes of today, which brings us to the second medium, mechanical.

Mechanical mediums can be either written or passed through electronic channels. It ranges from traditional media such as newspapers or newsletters, to new media such as blogs and podcasts. The growth of this medium of communication is exponential. We now have social media sites such as facebook and twitter, which helps to integrate the information from traditional and new media together. This makes it far easier for us to communicate and access information all at once.

We think that communication can also be the process of restructuring of ideas, confirming them and making sure that they are well organized so that the audience will be able to decode the message or able to understand the message easily. If the idea or thought behind the message is poorly structured or unorganized, the perceived message will definitely be adversely affected. Through communication, people can convey their personal thoughts, sharing them so that everyone will be on the same page. During group discussions or meetings, communicating effectively plays a huge role in helping group members or an organization build their bond and trust amongst each other to eventually help them accomplish their goals. By having effective communication, it is almost impossible for a diverse group of people to not be able to understand issues and decisions for effective change.

Urge to share ideas

First of all, we share ideas because humans are creatures of emotions. We possess this innate need to connect and be understood by others. By communicating an opinion effectively, we hope to find someone that can empathize with our feelings, identify with our ideas and concur with our mindsets on anything and everything in the world. When we travel to a foreign country, the language and cultural barrier often leaves us feeling frustrated simply because the receiver on the other end is unable to accurately comprehend what we are trying to convey. We seek understanding and by sharing ideas, we are actually casting a net to find people who think and feel the same way we do.

Secondly, we have this thirst for knowledge. There is progress in science and technology because we are always curious and enthusiastic about new discoveries or innovative ways to do things. We are always exploring options as well as unorthodox methods for a better life and by sharing ideas, we hope to open up a discussion to shed some light or offer a new perspective on a certain issue or idea that we have.

We are all victims of conformity. We covet the ability to fit into a group and not stick out like a sore thumb.Humans require acceptance in their lives and there is a need for us to be on the same page as everyone else most of the time. We like to think that the world is fair, and that we are all on the same level. The sharing of ideas create a mirage of equality and also keeps us updated of the latest news, happenings and ideas in the world. This helps us stay relevant to our peers.

There’s one thing that we are assured of when we share – a receiver. One of the biggest reasons we share information and ideas is to get attention. We like to fit in, yet we still yearn to be in the spotlight. In the mediums of social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we get to be the star. Everything you share – a cool video clip, a deep poem or even photos of yourself says something about you. Ultimately, that is what we are after – a shiny, varnished outlook of ourselves that we create in the hopes that this is what others see when they look at us. By sharing the latest information and ideas, we are also further cementing our image or profile as someone who is always ahead of the curve.