A Brief Examination of my Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers

Once I had spent fifteen minutes scrolling through my Twitter account, the social media platform that I use the most frequently, I was immediately able to identify certain filter bubbles and echo chambers that consume my timeline. Three core topics swarmed my newsfeed – popular culture related news, travel accounts, and ‘proper’ news (outlets such as the Mail Online and BBC News). After taking the idea of filter bubbles and echo chambers into consideration and looking at my Twitter feed with that mindset, I wasn’t shocked to see that these three subjects made the most appearances; they are the three topics that I enjoy reading about the most online, therefore I expected the results I got.

For instance, because of my interest in ‘pop culture’ news, I follow Twitter accounts such as ‘TMZ’ and ‘Complex Pop Culture’. I enjoy their news-feeds because I am interested in a broad range of topics regarding pop culture, and feel that the two accounts merge all the information I want into a compact site; TMZ provides the daily celebrity news that most are too proud to admit they can’t get enough of, and Complex Pop Culture covers everything from tour announcements to new film releases.

In conclusion, I realised that by examining my Twitter timeline with the mindset of searching for filter bubbles and echo chambers made me realise how many of them I could fall into – however, I think of it as a positive thing. If you are in a filter bubble with millions of people from around the world on one social media platform, it connotes that there are millions of people from around the world that share similar interests that you do. If our social media timelines were full of tweets and statuses regarding topics that we have no care for, no one would bother using social media.

We Must Remember – and Why We Can’t Forget

On Friday evening, the British Transport Police revealed their officers have been barred from putting symbolic poppy flowers on their vehicles in honour of this forthcoming Remembrance Day – this is a decision that has left both locals and visitors of Lambeth’s Imperial War Museum less than impressed.

Due to 2018 being the centenary year of World War One’s demise, many feel that respecting our country’s history has never been more important. Harry Roberts, 48, of Southwark, a visitor at Imperial War Museum, condemned British Transport Polices decision, stating that the idea is ‘disgraceful’ – he mentioned his dislike of ‘political correctness’, and made the bold statement that ‘us Brits need to remember why we’re free to do as we please today’.

Imperial War Museums newly-built cascade opened this week to vast admiration from its guests; it is made up of hundreds of ceramic poppies used in the iconic 2014 ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ display at the Tower of London. The exhibition will run until November 18 – one week after Remembrance Day.

Imperial War Museum is open from 10AM-6PM seven days a week.

Markle’s Sparkle – An Intimate Profile of the Duchess of Sussex

The profile I studied was that of Meghan Markle, now known as the Duchess of Sussex, that was written for The Guardian in November 2017 following the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry. Robert Booth wrote this piece in order for Guardian readers to understand more about both Markle’s background and heritage, detailing the struggles her mother Doria faced raising her daughter in a ‘largely white Valley area of the city’ – this signifies that the writer wanted his audience to consider the personal journey that Meghan Markle has endured, growing up as a mixed race American.

Another technique that Booth used to encourage his readers to think fondly of Markle is by contrasting the way her and Prince Harry have used their influence to speak out on social issues; for instance, Meghan made her views on Brexit extremely clear, posting an image of a placard on her Instagram that stated Britain leaving the European Union takes away ‘the biggest part’ of the United Kingdom. However, being a member of the British Royal Family (BRF) means that you are not allowed to make political statements, therefore Prince Harry has always remained tight-lipped on his opinions. The writer also implies that Meghan Markle will be a great addition to the BRF, mentioning her humanitarian work as a global ambassador for World Vision Canada.

This profile about the Duchess of Sussex was published prior to her wedding to the Duke, and it was written in order for the British public to have an informed, well-balanced idea of who Meghan Markle is, and how she is different to any other person that has joined the British Royal Family in the past.

Migration Hidden Beneath Tate Modern’s Latest Exhibition

Heat-sensitive material accompanied with a ‘crying’ room are apart of the latest exhibition at The Tate Modern with the intention to make visitors ‘uncomfortable’ and highlight the journey migrants take.  

Tate Modern’s Turbine hall flooring is covered in heat-sensitive material commissioned by Hyundai and created by Tania Brugera. Hiding beneath it is a portrait of Yousef, a young Syrian man who fled to the UK in 2011 and is now a biomedical science student working for the NHS.

A low-frequency sound is constantly being played in the Turbine hall as well as a ‘crying’ room with an organic compound that physically makes the visitor cry, both designed to make the visitors feel uncomfortable. Tania calls it ‘forced empathy’ and is intended to break down people’s usual social barriers as well as saying ‘Life is not comfortable. I want people to get out of their comfort zone’.

With this exhibition, Tania aims to create awareness about the positive aspects of migration by bringing people together to reveal the portrait of Yousef.

The purpose of the crying room is to make people think about the loss migration involves. Entering the room visitors are stamped with a 12 digit number representing the number of migration plus the number of migrant deaths both in 2018. Based on these numbers an ever-changing title is created as the migration and deaths change (currently 10,143,225).

Speaking to local visitors Nicholas Morgan and Jeni Godwin they stated that they felt that it was powerful to look down on the entire portrait from the viewing platform. However said they felt “no sense of anything” not understanding the link between the three parts of the exhibition and feeling “disappointed”.   

Is Tania Bugera’s message truly conveyed in this abstract new piece of art? Or has her message been lost in Tania’s key beliefs being misconstrued? Find out for yourself by visiting the Tate before the closing date on February 24th 2019.

A Silver Screen Scene

Today, a free exhibition has found its end in the BFI IMAX in Waterloo. Many tourists, and also natives, came to visit the Exhibition of Hollywood’s famous film requisites – these include the hoverboard from Back to the Future, and Han Solo’s jacket. They were displayed for two weeks. For the last five consecutive years, the BFI IMAX has played host to the ‘Entertainment Memorabilia Auction’, where six hundred Hollywood costumes and props  are sold to buyers across the globe. However, only the most poignant garments are on display to the general public.

Aretha, a student from London, said that she admired the Harry Potter book, which was hand-signed by the cast. Another visitor, Steve, was eyeing up an original poster for the first Star Wars film, and told us he was planning on attending the auction to try and purchase the print. The auction that took place earlier cemented the value of some of these items; for instance, a life-sized statue of Edward Scissorhands was sold for £65,000.

Although the showcase was appreciated by the visitors, what the exhibition was lacking was publicity, as most attendees were from London – furthermore, it still proved to be very popular, because it ran everyday from 10AM-9:30PM.

How Digital Developments Change Journalism

As stated in the News Storytelling in a Digital Landscape report, ‘is the internet killing storytelling’? In the digital age that we live in, journalism has seen a drastic change in how a reader receives and perceives their news. For instance, because the vast majority of our generation owns a smartphone, major news alerts can pop up on a mobile immediately, with updates available in seconds as the story progresses. This is incredibly different from how journalism worked, say, fifty years ago – where ones only sources of news were the radio, a few television channels, and primarily, a daily newspaper. Swapping print for digital journalism is often seen as a good thing; as not everyone is interested in purchasing physical newspapers and want something compact and accessible instead, it can intrigue a wider audience into journalism because they can obtain news for free on their device (a mobile phone, a tablet or computer for instance) on websites such as The Guardian and Mail Online.

However, in the report, the writer Vin Ray mentions that Mediastorm, an online production company for multimedia storytelling, reaches global audiences that ‘TV programmes would envy’ and that ‘⅔ of their audience are watching the short films all the way through’. This connotes that the current generation of news consumers may prefer watching informative films and documentaries as their news source, in comparison to reading long articles – this links to the writers suggestion that our attention spans could be decreasing, since we now prefer a ‘quick hit in USA Today’ to a ‘10,000-word New Yorker article’. The rise in documentaries over news articles can be seen in popular culture, as documentary-makers Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley’s series’, available on streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix, become more popular each time a new episode is released. In conclusion, from this observation and how the writer predicts that our attention spans are decreasing, I feel that the generation of millennials prefer these programmes because they take up less energy, and they can also do something else at the same time.

Reuter’s Digital News Report

Based on the findings of Reuter’s 2018 Digital News Report, I think that the most significant development is how the percentage of online users relying on social media for news updates has began to decline, primarily on Facebook. I am fascinated by this, because not long ago the world was captivated by the same website – however, I think the recent leak about how Facebook processes its users data and mobile content has a lot to do with why people are choosing to read newspapers or look elsewhere online for news content, on websites such as Mail Online and BBC News. This could signify that we as a society are beginning to turn our backs on social media for news updates and return to how it once was (heading straight for the source of information instead of finding it second-hand). As demonstrated in the graph on page eleven of the report, we are shown that 66% of users in Brazil use social media for news updates, even though there has been a reported decline in their news on social media dependence. This is a vast increase in comparison to the range of 31-45% of users in Westernised countries such as France. The USA and the United Kingdom; due to consistent political scandals and well publicised wrongdoings in these countries, I believe that we are straying from our reliance on social media for news updates because we are afraid that we are being fed so called ‘fake news’ through social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

The Art of an Introduction

Hello to anyone that finds themselves reading this; I apologise in advance. I’m just starting blogging today, therefore in a few years time this brief welcome will sound ridiculous! My name is Craig Fergus, and last week I started my journalism degree at London South Bank University. Maybe this will be dragged up one day when I’m a household name, or it may just disappear into the internet archives, never to be read again. Who knows! Enjoy your time here, and if you would like to get in touch with me, tweet me @probablycraig.