The Nature of the ‘Selfie’.

You’re wearing your favorite outfit, you’ve spent almost an hour straightening your hair and you’re ready for an exciting night out with your friends. You’re in front of the camera so that the lens frames your face perfectly and the lighting fades out any blemishes. Click… click. click. click. This is the typical nature of the ‘selfie’.

2013 was home of a multitude of significant global events such the Boston marathon bombing, the Cleveland kidnapping, there was a new royal baby and the pope quit his job for the first time in history. Amongst these events was the rise of the ‘selfie,’ which I’m sure all of you are familiar with, probably more so than the previous events stated. So why is this the case? Why is the act of simply taking a photograph of yourself such a large part of todays society?

While most may argue the fact that the ‘selfie’ is ruled by insecure, shallow young females and self-absorbed individuals, I disagree. The ‘selfie’ has become such a large part of life today because of it’s power to control the way others view you. Social networking sites are full of status updates and ‘selfies’ representing loving relationships, thrilling adventures and once-in a lifetime job opportunities. The act of the ‘selfie’ is extremely narcissistic in that only the most comedic, romantic, exhilarating and fun aspects of our lives are posted while the mundane, boring aspects are left out, creating a false representation of our life.

Take 25-year old graphic designer, Zilla van den Born. She lives in Amsterdam and used the power of social media and the ‘selfie’ to fake a month-long trip to Asia. Her parents dropped her at the airport while she sneakily made her way back to her flat. For a whole month she digitally manipulated photographs to make it look like she was having the time of her life. She says that she “did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media,” (Zilla van den Born, 2014) While Zilla may have exaggerated the nature of the ‘selfie,’ she has accurately represented the extent one will go to create a false representation of themselves through social media.

ZILLiazilllll

The student appears to be on an exciting trip to Asia when she is actually in her own flat in Amsterdam. Picture: Zilla van den Born/Rex Features Source: Austral International Press Agency

The Future of the Creative City.

Picture this: You’re walking down a well-lit street and you see an array of artistic paintings throughout the architecture, beautiful tall buildings with bright lights and a live play a little further up. The murmur of other people and the soft sound of a violinist fill your ears. The aroma of delicious food and wine invades the streets as you walk past restaurants home to unique and culturally authentic food.

This is the typical nature of the creative city.

The creative city is a place where ordinary people have the inspiration to do extraordinary things. Cities around the world have adopted this nature not only to attract tourists but also to create a basis of originality and aspirations for those who live there. As a result of these brilliant qualities 54% of the worlds population has flocked to urbanized areas (World Health Organization 2015). This fun fact led me to do some of my own research regarding the future of these beautiful cities. With the increasing urban population how are city governments planning to create enough jobs, housing, food and water? The list goes on.

Being a fan of the artistic culture that invades the creative city, I was happy to come across the relatively new idea of the smart city. In short, the idea of the smart city is to improve the standard of living through technological advances in urbanized areas (He, Stojmenovic, Liu & Gu, 2014). With the urban population expected to double by 2050, imagine the benefits of smart technology such as Traffic Management systems, traffic flow detection, weather detection, greener electricity, renewable installations and Electric Vehicles (World Health Organization 2015). Barcelona, the capital of Spain is a prime example of a beautiful creative city that has tackled the problem of overpopulation through adopting the smart city approach.

By investing in new technology Barcelona has improved their economy. So far Barcelona has seen over 1,500 new companies and institutions creating employment for over 55,000 people. The smart city approach is responsible for over 4,000 units of new housing and an increase of universities in the area (Bakici, 2013, p. 145). The city has now become greener, more intelligent and a comfortable home to 1.6 million people (World Population Review 2015).

With the success of the smart city comes challenges that must be overcome. One of my greatest fears in regards to advances in beautiful, cultural cities like Barcelona is the preservation of the authentic historical culture. The growing economy, tourism and technology may take away from the cities original beauty. It will be intriguing to see how historical cities like Barcelona deal with such issues.

The creative city is a beautiful and inspirational place that attracts a high volume of people. The smart city approach is successfully dealing with issues that have risen from the large population in these areas. My only concern is that these cities find a way to simultaneously preserve the culture and history that make them so unique.

23 Mar 2011, Barcelona, Barcelona Province, Spain --- Barcelona skyline with Torre Agbar at twilight, Barcelona, Spain --- Image by © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis
23 Mar 2011, Barcelona, Barcelona Province, Spain — Barcelona skyline with Torre Agbar at twilight, Barcelona, Spain — Image by © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis

Reference List:

The Future of the Creative City.

Picture this: You’re walking down a well-lit street and you see an array of artistic paintings throughout the architecture, beautiful tall buildings with bright lights and a live play a little further up. The murmur of other people and the soft sound of a violinist fill your ears. The aroma of delicious food and wine invades the streets as you walk past restaurants home to unique and culturally authentic food.

This is the typical nature of the creative city.

The creative city is a place where ordinary people have the inspiration to do extraordinary things. Cities around the world have adopted this nature not only to attract tourists but also to create a basis of originality and aspirations for those who live there. As a result of these brilliant qualities 54% of the worlds population has flocked to urbanized areas (World Health Organization 2015). This fun fact led me to do some of my own research regarding the future of these beautiful cities. With the increasing urban population how are city governments planning to create enough jobs, housing, food and water? The list goes on.

Being a fan of the artistic culture that invades the creative city, I was happy to come across the relatively new idea of the smart city. In short, the idea of the smart city is to improve the standard of living through technological advances in urbanized areas (He, Stojmenovic, Liu & Gu, 2014). With the urban population expected to double by 2050, imagine the benefits of smart technology such as Traffic Management systems, traffic flow detection, weather detection, greener electricity, renewable installations and Electric Vehicles (World Health Organization 2015). Barcelona, the capital of Spain is a prime example of a beautiful creative city that has tackled the problem of overpopulation through adopting the smart city approach.

By investing in new technology Barcelona has improved their economy. So far Barcelona has seen over 1,500 new companies and institutions creating employment for over 55,000 people. The smart city approach is responsible for over 4,000 units of new housing and an increase of universities in the area (Bakici, 2013, p. 145). The city has now become greener, more intelligent and a comfortable home to 1.6 million people (World Population Review 2015).

With the success of the smart city comes challenges that must be overcome. One of my greatest fears in regards to advances in beautiful, cultural cities like Barcelona is the preservation of the authentic historical culture. The growing economy, tourism and technology may take away from the cities original beauty. It will be intriguing to see how historical cities like Barcelona deal with such issues.

The creative city is a beautiful and inspirational place that attracts a high volume of people. The smart city approach is successfully dealing with issues that have risen from the large population in these areas. My only concern is that these cities find a way to simultaneously preserve the culture and history that make them so unique.

23 Mar 2011, Barcelona, Barcelona Province, Spain --- Barcelona skyline with Torre Agbar at twilight, Barcelona, Spain --- Image by © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis
23 Mar 2011, Barcelona, Barcelona Province, Spain — Barcelona skyline with Torre Agbar at twilight, Barcelona, Spain — Image by © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis

Reference List:

The Nature of the ‘Selfie’.

You’re wearing your favorite outfit, you’ve spent almost an hour straightening your hair and you’re ready for an exciting night out with your friends. You’re in front of the camera so that the lens frames your face perfectly and the lighting fades out any blemishes. Click… click. click. click. This is the typical nature of the ‘selfie’.

2013 was home of a multitude of significant global events such the Boston marathon bombing, the Cleveland kidnapping, there was a new royal baby and the pope quit his job for the first time in history. Amongst these events was the rise of the ‘selfie,’ which I’m sure all of you are familiar with, probably more so than the previous events stated. So why is this the case? Why is the act of simply taking a photograph of yourself such a large part of todays society?

While most may argue the fact that the ‘selfie’ is ruled by insecure, shallow young females and self-absorbed individuals, I disagree. The ‘selfie’ has become such a large part of life today because of it’s power to control the way others view you. Social networking sites are full of status updates and ‘selfies’ representing loving relationships, thrilling adventures and once-in a lifetime job opportunities. The act of the ‘selfie’ is extremely narcissistic in that only the most comedic, romantic, exhilarating and fun aspects of our lives are posted while the mundane, boring aspects are left out, creating a false representation of our life.

Take 25-year old graphic designer, Zilla van den Born. She lives in Amsterdam and used the power of social media and the ‘selfie’ to fake a month-long trip to Asia. Her parents dropped her at the airport while she sneakily made her way back to her flat. For a whole month she digitally manipulated photographs to make it look like she was having the time of her life. She says that she “did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media,” (Zilla van den Born, 2014) While Zilla may have exaggerated the nature of the ‘selfie,’ she has accurately represented the extent one will go to create a false representation of themselves through social media.

ZILLiazilllll

The student appears to be on an exciting trip to Asia when she is actually in her own flat in Amsterdam. Picture: Zilla van den Born/Rex Features Source: Austral International Press Agency

Eating Meat as an Ethical Issue.

With an expanding global population comes an increase in the amount of meat we consume. It is predicted that the consumption of meat is supposed to increase by 50% in the next 5 years. As a result, the process of farming animals to eat is becoming more expensive. Instead to going about this problem in an ethical way, predominantly Europe and North America are slaughtering animals in inhumane ways as a means to save money (Singer, 2015).

Animals are experiencing horrific and traumatic deaths so that we can eat. In my opinion, just because a species is less inelegant than us, doesn’t mean we should take advantage of them in such unethical and cruel ways.

Most of us have heard about the lifestyle of a cage chicken. Multiple chickens are squashed in a cage with no room at all to move around. The stronger chickens peck the weaker ones to death. Something has been done about this. The public has been notified and we now have the option to purchase farm eggs from chickens that have room to run around and live a satisfying life. What about other animals that are being treated cruelly?

If you think the bacon you had for breakfast the other day came from a healthy pig that has lived a happy, long life, you are being extremely naive. In its natural environment, the big is a beautifully natured and intelligent animal. Prior to giving birth, the pig will create a bed for its young made out of leaves as a means to make them as comfortable as possible. Factory farms in Europe and North America keep the female pig in a box that doesn’t even have enough room to step backwards or forwards. The pig gives birth on a hard concrete floor where the piglet is taken away as soon as possible so that she can become pregnant again (Singer, 2015). I don’t know about you, but I have been turned off my dinner!

This kind of cruelty is only spreading to other places around the world such as China and India. It’s our job to put a stop to such disgusting behavior. Stop buying and supporting factory farming products, it’s our decision.

bacon-cimg0611


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The Real Cost of Privacy.

“I grew up with the understanding that the world I lived in was one where people enjoyed a sort of freedom to communicate with each other in privacy, without it being monitored, without it being measured or analyzed or sort of judged by these shadowy figures or systems, any time they mention anything that travels across public lines.”

 Edward Snowden, 2013.

 Everyday a little bit of our privacy is taken from us. New information is continuously collected and recorded about our personal lives from unknown sources.

 Rapid technological advances make it as simple as flying without wings to keep our private and public lives separate.

 In our day-to-day lives, we are surrounded by technology that has the capability to record a prodigious amount of information about us. This can work in both positive and negative ways. While this information is predominately given up voluntarily, users are not always aware about where this information is going. The information is taken from us by numerous sources and consumers simply don’t take the time to research what their private information is being used for or where it is going. How many times have you simply clicked ‘accept’ or ‘allow’ when a program asks for your personal information?

 While organizations home to the new data collecting technology such as Fitbit, Nike+ and smartphones say that the technology has been designed to aid the population and make our lives easier, I cant help but voice potential underlying problems. It is important to think about the future ramifications regarding the issue. Data collecting businesses are already selling our information to advertising and insurance companies, what happens when it’s taken to the next level? Dr. Katina Michael, from the University Of Wollongong has researched the topic and states that “human implant technology is getting cheaper, easier to access and looks increasingly like it is going to be part of your everyday future life.” (2011) Jonathan Oxer from Melbourne and Joe Wooller from Perth have inserted implants into their bodies using a rather simple procedure that can be compared to microchipping your pets. The two ‘implantees’ are now able to personalize settings in their home and open doors to their house and car by simply swiping their hands (Katina Michael, 2011). With these benefits comes constant monitoring and data collecting.

 Personally this kind of data tracking seems absurd and reminds me of the disturbing novel I read through year 12, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. The significant link from the novel being the incessant surveillance. Once educated about the issue, the majority agrees with my opinion. With this being the case, some argue that despite the negative aspects of the new technology, the positive aspects are more predominant.

 Journalist Gary Wolf delivered a speech with TED in 2010 titled the ‘quantified self.’ Wolf shows the positive side of having your diet, heart rate, sleeping patterns and much more monitored and collect. Wolf explains that while biometric technology is largely used for collecting data for advertising, it is also used for improving yourself by learning, reflecting and remembering. (Gary Wolf, 2010)

 As you can see, while using biometric technology is a huge invasion of privacy and posses many societal risks, it can also be used for self-reflection and improvement.


Reference List:

  • Dr. Katina Michael, 2015, The microchipping of people and the uberveillance trajectory, University Of Wollongong, accessed: 12/04/2015, URL: http://works.bepress.com/kmichael/243/
  •  Gary Wolf, 2010, The Quantified Self, online video, 1/6/2010, TED, accessed: 04/01/2015