My nine-week blog review

Over the past nine weeks, I have been running my WordPress blog, ‘Besides The Point’ (witty title, I know). Blogging is a brilliant way for individuals to easily share personal opinions with a wide spectrum of potential readers.  It is a great way for students to portray themselves as up and coming professionals in their chosen field. As I am undertaking a Bachelor of Communications & Media, this provides a great platform for me to show off not only my research and design skills, but my enthusiasm for learning and for digital media. Check out this blog post by George Couros (2013), author of The Innovators Mindset; It is an interesting read about the benefits of student blogging, including literacy development, the provision of a student voice and open reflection.

Speaking of open reflection – this is mine. This post will act as a self-reflection of the different strategies I have been utilising to make my blog more readable, user friendly, and engaging. I will go into detail about the techniques I have used, how I have put them in place and how I have continued to maintain a positive online image for my blog.


I believe the design and layout of you blog is really important to capture reader engagement. If I come across a blog that I find unattractive and/or difficult to navigate – I am out of there! No matter how engaging the content may be, if it is not easy to access or is difficult to search through, most readers will not waste their time trying to read it. I spent a lot of time trying to edit my blog with the free version of WordPress, but ended up upgrading to the paid version so that I could have more control over design and customisation. I have gone with a simple look and plain colours, making it easy to read and to ensure that blog posts stand out. Through the integration of Twitter and Instagram feeds on the side bar, I can entice readers to follow me on other social media outlets, as well as add a bit of colour and depth. As I only have nine weeks’ worth of content, I have kept it simple with only two page tabs – About Me and Blog Posts. This is all I need at the moment, until a time comes where I have more content for people to navigate. I received positive feedback from my tutor regarding my first assignment, detailing that my design was easy to navigate and promoted me as a future media professional – this let me know that I was on the right track.

An important aspect of blogging is to provide added media to your written posts. The additions of elements such as videos, photographs and images makes blogs more interactive and engaging for your readers. I strive for continuity in my posts, ensuring each has at least one embedded video and image. I found freelance blogger Ritika Puri’s post ‘7 Refreshingly Simple Ideas to Make Your Content More Engaging’ helpful in developing some new strategies for reader engagement. She suggests to write your blog like you are talking to friends. Although my blog is serving as a student media portfolio, I have taken this advice on board and attempt to exhibit a friendly and easy going blog environment, often throwing in the odd joke or pun to lighten the mood when talking about in-depth research. Throughout my blogging, I have also provided hyperlinks to webpages that I thought may be interesting for readers, or as a way to reference where I have sourced information. YouTube is a great resource to find videos, and was particularly useful for my post ‘Stand For The King – A Thai Cinema Experience’. I was able to find a video posted by a YouTuber that illustrated my experience perfectly, as I myself did not have any footage from my visit.

Ensuring I always allocate my posts to specific and relevant categories, I can keep all my data organised and easy to navigate. Using the tags feature also enables me to enter key words, giving my work a higher change of being located and read.

Interacting in the WordPress community has also helped me to improve reader engagement. I have followed a number of other UOW BCM bloggers, some of whom have returned the favour. Through commenting on the blogs of others I have tried to keep active in the WordPress community, although I admit that this part has been somewhat challenging. I have struggled to have other bloggers engage through commenting on my posts, and with a bit of research have found this is a common problem that modern day bloggers face. Even if posts reach a large audience, comments, likes and shares usually take place on social media platforms, rather than on the blog itself. For example, I posted about some of my blogs on Twitter and received likes on that platform, but no likes on the actual post itself. Check out the video below which I found quite relevant, ‘The Death of Blog Commenting’.

As a researcher writing in a public space, I understand the need to be sensitive and sensible. Whilst always feeling that I can portray an open opinion, I am always sensitive in the way I do so and do not try to be overly provocative in any of my research or opinions. I also understand the importance of referencing, and always ensure I cite my sources clearly and in the correct style using the UOW citing guide. To upkeep my reputation as a proficient and professional blogger, I always proof read my posts and sometimes ask a friend or family member for their opinion before I hit the publish button. When writing online, I feel you need to be concise and to-the-point to ensure readers stay engaged. If a reader starts to lose interest half way through reading a post, they will probably click the back button and not finish reading the article. When posting, I try to split my text up into paragraphs, placing video and images in between to make reading less monotonous and not so clumped together.

Overall, my blogging experience this semester has been an enjoyable one. I feel I am constantly developing new skills, particularly in the areas of research and content creation. It is a valuable skill to be able to engage other readers, and I hope that I am able to continue to grow my blog over the coming years.


Couros, G 2013, 5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog, The Principal Of Change, weblog post, 13 March, viewed 29 September 2016, <;

Puri, R 2016, 7 Refreshingly Simple Ideas to Make Your Content More Engaging, Positionly, weblog post, date unavailable, viewed 29 September 2016, <;


Gold fish attention span – Is the rise in digital media making us sink or swim?

We all know that the average attention span of humans is shrinking. With the rise of technology, in particular social media, humans are becoming increasingly likely to multi task and to use multiple forms of media at once. The average attention span has dropped 4 seconds from 2000. While we used to sit comfortably at 12 seconds, we now have an average attention span of 8 seconds – less than that of a gold fish (McSpadden)!

You might wonder why this is important, and who wants to know about attentions spans and similar human behaviours. The simple answer is that our attention span is viewed as a commodity – and a scarce one at that! Lets refer to this as”attention economics”. With the rise of social media, the internet is saturated with more content than ever before (Crawford). Media advertisers now have to compete with a tidal wave of other information, and have to be able to create engaging content that will not be over looked our dropped by our less-than-goldfish sized attention spans.



Media advertising relies heavily upon being able to grab the attention of consumers. AIDA, the tradition model of planning followed in marketing, recognises the need for material to stand out from the crowd in order to be noticed. With the high volume of online advertising, marketers now have to put in more research and effort than ever before to be noticed.


Now, some marketers might be worried that advertising in general is loosing its impact, but researches like Alyson Gausby, Microsoft Consumer Insights Lead, disagree (Microsoft 2015). “Today, multi-screening is a given, so it’s reassuring to know that multiple screens don’t reduce the (potential) impact of advertising. Since consumers turn to their secondary screens to fill in those in between moments when they might otherwise drop off completely, they’re more engaged overall and already primed for immersive experiences.”

Understanding the human mind and the way in which we engage with content is important to marketers. Hence, a great deal of research is undertaken in this field in an attempt to measure human concentration. But is it really that simple? The mind is a complex tool, and things such as concentration can be difficult to quantify. Depending on the research method used, it can be problematic to ascertain the frame of mind of participants and how this is affecting results. If a test subject is aware that they are being tested, and are in an unfamiliar environment, perhaps they will attempt to concentrate more, or perhaps they will be more distracted. Indeed research methods such as collaborative ethnography may be more constructive for this type of research. Studies undertaken in the family home could present more reliable data, as individuals feel more comfortable and relaxed. In this mode of testing, subjects would also be surrounded by familiar distractions, providing more accurate data on the way people watch TV in their own homes.

This week, I performed my own collaborative ethnographic research at home. As my partner and I sat down to watch an episode of our favorite show on Netflix (for this week anyway), we decided to self-monitor our concentration. Armed with a pen and a piece of paper each, we decided to draw a line on the paper each time one of us looked at our used or mobiles during a 22 minute episode of Brookyln Nine Nine.

And here are the results; my partner Bob looked at his 3 times, and I came in doubling that at 6 times. Given its a 22 minute episode, that is me looking at my phone every 3.67 minutes! I was pretty shocked with myself actually. I thought of all the things that had distracted me – I was in a conversation about an upcoming camping trip with some friends on Facebook Messenger, had recently uploaded a photo on Instagram and was getting ‘like’ notifications, as well as texting my Mum about coming over for dinner that night. After the show had finished we attempt to talk about the episode in detail. Bob recalled pieces of the show that I had must have been totally distracted from, and could not remember at all! My attention wavered a lot more than his, and if I watched the episodes again with no distractions I feel I would pick up on a lot more than I did this time.

And the results are in!


Maybe I should turn off my phone notifications when I’m watching TV? Or put in on silent? Or just leave it in another room? What do you think?



Crawford, M B 2015, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York

McSpadden, K 2015, ‘You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than A Goldfish’, Time, 14 May, viewed 18 September 2016, <;

Microsoft 2015, ‘Microsoft attention spans, Spring 2015’,  Microsoft, viewed 18 September 2016, <…/microsoft-attention-spans-research-report.pdf&gt;



Preliminary Research Proposal

Over the course of my BCM240 class studies this year, I have taken particular interest in the subject of concentration. My last blog, ‘Goldfish attention span – Is the rise in digital media helping us sink or swim?’, raises some of the issues surrounding the decreased attention span of humans. We now have more distractions available to us than ever before. Multitasking is a standard practice that we are undertaking more than ever before. Margin Media blogger Madeleine Richards reports that “According to the 2013 Nielsen report, three-quarters of viewer’s multi-task with two sets of content while watching television. The 2013 Social TV report, backed by Yahoo and 7, found that 33% of their respondents discussed television on social media as they watched it, with 46% also reported that it increased their level of enjoyment” (2014).

For my collaborative ethnographic research project, I would like to research the way in which people interact with other media forms whilst watching television. Does the use of devices, such as smart phones, whist watching TV cause a negative distraction? Or do users feel it enhances their TV experience? Shows such as Q & A and Insight have a live feed scroll at the bottom of their broadcasts, encouraging viewers to share their comments via social media with other viewers. Is this encouraging positive interaction and creating a more dynamic and engaging experience?


To look into and answer questions such as these, I will carry out research in the family home of a variety of people of different age and gender. I will observe their viewing habits, as well as conduct ethnographic interviews and ask questions about the way they enjoy watching TV, multitasking, and if they believe multi-device use has an effect on their concentration.

My preliminary proposal question will be as follows:

“How has the rise in technological devices changed the way we watch TV? Does multi-device use enhance TV viewing, or does it create a decrease in concentration and lowered attention span?”

To test concentration, I will also create a small informal test to monitor indicators such as concentration. Last week, I performed a small test in which I watched a 22 minute TV show with my partner. We both used a pen and paper to mark down moments when we felt we were beginnings to loose concentration, or when we started to use our smart phones to engage in other media (e.g. social media). Whilst this test proved effective, and is a method that I would consider using again, I would like to collaborate with the individuals I will be interviewing to come up with a method that they think will be helpful and relevant to them depending on the way that they watch television.

I hope to exhibit my work through making a short documentary style video of my findings. After all, due to a decreased global attention span, surely a video will be a more captivating way to depict my research and capture audience attention than pages and pages of text! I plan to take video footage of people watching TV, as well as video interviews about their experience.




Richards, M 2014, Second Screening: The Rise of Social TV’, Margin Media, weblog post, 11 April, viewed 21 September 2016, <;

Pokemon Go; Examining space, ethics and safety

Recently, gaming giant Nintendo had a huge win with the release of their latest gaming app, Pokemon Go. The game has been hugely successful, and has seen a mass increase in the number of people, both young and old, seen milling around with the heads bowed down into their mobile screen. I have not personally played the game, but am able to spot a player from a mile away. Here is your checklist;

  1. Milling around popular landmarks
    The game works by placing Poke Gyms at popular landmarks and busy places. For example, some of the most popular spots in my local area, Wollongong, are the Harbour Front and the Lighthouse. Often spotted in groups, players can often be spotted sitting on camping chairs behind the closed Levendi cafe at 10oclock at night
  2. Colour codes
    Apparently you can join different teams, and these different teams are represented by different colours. If you see a group of people wearing all yellow, sitting together in the corner of your local KFC with their phones glued to their hands, you have probably spotted a league of players.
  3. You might think someone is trying to take a photo of you
    The game is based on augmented reality, and you can use your phone’s camera to make Pokemon virtually appear in your immediate surroundings. If someone is walking around with their phone up in the air, looking like they are vaguely recording something – then suddenly come to a halt – they might have found a Pikachu!

This game is a fantastic example of the way in which a game can take you into an entirely new world. Although it uses augmented reality to depict your current area, it is easy to get caught up in the game and become encompassed in your phone screen. Visiting the Opera House in Sydney recently, I was gob smacked at the number of people on their phones. As the Opera house is a very popular landmark, and has lots of ‘lures’ (which attract lots of Pokemon, and therefore lots of other players), the concrete was swarming with Pokemon hunters. On the walk up to the building, a lady ran into me whilst her eyes were glued to her phone. Not even looking up, she mumbled an apology, and continued to shuffle along without a care for the rest of the foot traffic.

Recent news reports have highlighted how the game could even be so engrossing that it is becoming considerably dangerous. Recently, in Guatemala, a teenager was killed and another badly injured after unknowingly walking into a dangerous neighborhood whilst playing the game. Meanwhile, in America, a civilian ran into the back of a police car whilst using his mobile phone to play the game whilst he was driving (Dunn 2016)! You know what they say, its all fun and games until someone gets hurt.


Pokemon Peril; An article in my local paper about the dangers of Pokemon Go


The nature of the game also brings into question concerns about privacy and consent. As the game relies on the use of a camera, it has the potential to create controversy around the ethics of street photography and capturing of images in public places. The internet is crawling with screen shots users have taken whilst playing the game, and most of the time other people can be seen in the background of the images. Is it unethical for people to capture and publish these sorts of images without consent from others?

A screenshot taken by a Pokemon Go Player at the Sydney Opera House, a popular spot for the gamers.


Driving past Wollongong harbor recently, I was able to snap a quick photo of a group of Poke-enthusiasts out on the hunt in the late hours of the night. As this image was taken in a public place, and does not focus on one specific person, I feel that it is within my rights to capture this image. The laws on street photography are hazy, but from reading the Arts Laws Street Photography guidelines, I feel it is acceptable for me to capture and share these images without needing consent. It is stated that “It is generally possible to take photographs in a public place without asking permission. This extends to taking photographs of buildings, sites and people.”

However, if I had taken a close up image of a single person, with their face clearly showing, I would feel uncomfortable sharing it, and do not think it would be ethical to do so.

What do you think? Do you think that once people are in a public place they need to accept the possibility of being photographed without consent? Has anybody ever made you feel uncomfortable by trying to take a photograph of you?


And on a lighter note..


Arts Law Centre of Australia 2016, Street Photographers Rights, Arts Law Centre of Australia 2016, viewed 5 September 2016, <;

Dunn, M 2016, ‘Pokemon Go’s first death as warnings issued about land mines’,, 21 July, viewed 10 September 2016, <;

Gleeson, D 2016, ‘Pokemon Peril’, The Daily Telegraph, 26 September p.11

Pokemania has swept the globe since the release of Pokemon Go a game where users can ‘catch the creatures’ in the real world – a Pikachu pictured in front of the Sydney Opera House, image, photographed by Belinda Cleary, viewed 10 September 2016, <;



Stand For The King – A Thai Cinema Experience

I am a lover of film, and a frequent visitor to the cinema. On average I visit the cinema once every fortnight, to see the latest blockbuster and to get my popcorn fix. What I love most about going to watch a film is the atmosphere – something you just don’t get at home watching Netflix or Stan. You have the big screen, the dimmed lights, the salty sweet smell of the snack bar, not to mention big comfy chairs. 9 times out of 10 I visit with my partner, to our local cinema in Warrawong. There are 6 cinemas, each set out the exact same. We always sit the in the same 2 chairs, on the lower level in the back row. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cushions have started to mould to our body shapes. I enjoy my biweekly treat, and often don’t think about the constraints I have to work with in order to attend.

In 1969, urban planner Torsten Hagerstrand recognised and documented the constraints of time geography that affect the logistics of travelling to a certain place at a set time. This relates to cinema, as it is a place that we must journey to, and that we must arrive at in time to watch our chosen screening (and if you are like me, I like to be there early so I don’t miss out on watching the trailers). The constraints include;

Capability – Can I get there?

Coupling – Can I get there at the right time?

Authority – Am I allowed to be there?

(Corbett, J & J, Donald (eds) 2001)

Torsten Hagerstrand, 1991

When planning to attend a cinema screening, we inadvertently have to make sure all these constraints are dealt with. Because I see films so regularly at my local cinema, I have got all these pretty well covered. I know exactly how to get there, how long the car trip is and where to park. I have the Hoyts app on my phone to check movie times, and am able to quickly text my partner to make sure he can make the same screening. I know how much it costs each time, and to make sure I take my big handbag to sneak in some Maltesers I can pick up from Coles on the way. I’ve got all bases covered.

But what about when you go to see a movie in an unfamiliar area?  Or another country? Last year I travelled to Thailand, staying in the popular Phuket town of Patong Beach. On our of our ‘rest days’, as we wandered one of the huge modernised shopping malls, we came across a movie cinema, ‘SF Cinema City’ (capability). Looking at the screening times and titles, conveniently written in English due to the high tourist density, we came across one we both wanted to watch – Spongebob Squarepants. Yes, we are both twenty something’s travelling in a foreign country who wanted nothing more than to watch a children’s movie in our free time. The movie didn’t start for another 45 minutes, so we wandered the shops before returning with plenty of time to catch the trailers (coupling).

Spongebob Squarepants Thai Movie Poster

After the trailers finished rolling, I laid further back into my big comfortable chair awaiting for the film to start. Suddenly, another trailer popped up on to the screen. Everybody around us started to stand up from their chairs, as anthem-like music started to come from the speakers. A title appeared over the screen in both Thai and English, asking patrons to Stand For The King (authority). A little confused, I pulled myself out of my chair and stood facing the screen. We watched for a few minutes, as images of the King filled the screen. I had never heard of this ritual, but after further research discovered it is something that is practised at the beginning of every movie screening in Thailand. It is very offensive to not stand, and is actually considered a chargeable crime. ‘Lèse majesté’ is based on a Thai criminal code, and makes it illegal to defame or insult the king or queen. In 2008, The Daily Mail reported that a woman was actually facing 15 years’ jail after fellow movie goers convicted her of not standing during the anthem (Daily Mail Reporter). This action was seen an insult to the entire monarchy.

Dead Faragang 2014, The King of Thailand, Youtube clip

I found this ritual interesting, and couldn’t imagine having to stand for Malcom Turnbull before hoeing into my extra-large bucket of popcorn every time I went to the cinema. It was an interesting experience, but as we sat down I was quickly transported into the animated world of Bikini Bottom, where I watched a yellow sea-sponge go on whacky adventures with his starfish shaped best friend.

Have you had any interesting cinema experiences, involving ritual or participation? Do you find it difficult to over come the restraints that govern attending a film screening? Let me know in the comments below!



Cinematerial 2015, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water Thai Movie Poster, image, Cinematerial, viewed 28 August 2016, <;

Corbett, J & J, Donald (eds) 2001, Torsten Hӓgerstrand, Time Geography. CSISS Classics . UC Santa Barbara: Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science

Daily Mail Reporter 2008, ‘Women Arrested for boycotting anthem to ‘divine’ Thai king’, Daily Mail, June 18, viewed 28 August 2016, <;

Dead Faragang 2014, The King of Thailand, online video, 6 July, Youtube, viewed 28 August 2016, <;

Wikipedia 2016, Torsten Hagerstrand in 1991, image, Wikipedia, viewed 28 August 2016, <;


Why you must visit Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

For years I have seen people sharing amazing photographs of Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon. When planning my week in Iceland, this beautiful landmark was at the top of my list. After flying into Keflavik Airport, hoping into a rental car and being amazing by seeing snow falling for the first time (I know it sounds corny, but I even shed a tear as I was overcome by the beauty of this place), I made my way twenty minutes down the road to the famous Blue Lagoon.

I couldn’t believe that I was removing my four layers of clothing to put on my summer bikini, and it was a strange feeling walking the short distance from the changing rooms to the pool in the lightly falling snow. As I entered the pool the warm water surrounded my body – what an amazing feeling! The water stays between 37 – 40 degrees all year round, and for a minute you forget you are in a country renowned for its freezing cold winter weather.Whilst there was lots of people there, the lagoon itself contains nine million litres of water, and is large enough to float around feeling like you are in your own little world.

Placed around the sides of the pool were buckets of silica mud, that had been retrieved from the bottom of the spa. Looking around at every one else with white smeared on their faces, I to dipped my hand in and liberally applied. The mask feels funny against your face as it is hit by the cold air, but left my skin feeling great after woods. There is no time limit to stay, and time flew, as soon realised I had spent two hourly floating around the mesmerising blue water. It is such a happy place, with everybody smiling with the mud-smeared faces, all in equal awe at this amazing man made lagoon. As later afternoon approached, the sun started to set over the pool, creating a beautiful sky of swirling blue, yellow and whites. Iceland’s Blue Lagoon – a must visit.

To book, visit . As we were doing Iceland on a budget, we got the standard package, but they all sound really good!


UK Road Trip Essentials; A Packing List

Last year, I spent an amazing forty days road trippin’ around the UK. We travelled the coast lines of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales. It was an INCREDIBLE trip, and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Travelling in a van is a great way to see the country, and it gives you so much extra freedom. On that note, I have compiled a little list of all the things that I would class as ‘essentials’ when you are preparing for you big journey on the road.



This was a mega life saver! Phones are used a lot when travelling, from navigation to playing music, so the batteries drain pretty quickly. Make sure you have a USB car charger to fit into your car lighter, so that you can keep it on charge while you are on the road.

It’s a really good idea to carry spare change on you. A lot of the car parks for different attractions and historical sites actually required paid parking – even if you are only staying for half an hour. Change is also good for using at caravan parks on washing machine and dryers – a lot of them are coin operated.
We used the TomTom Western Europe app, and it was amazing. We didn’t like the idea of driving on the main highways, and the app let you easily plan your route and avoid highways and congested areas. There is tons of good navigation apps out there on Apple and Play store, but we found the TomTom one to be the best.
I LOVE this stuff. It performs miracles. Batiste Tropical Dry Shampoo is my favourite and smells AMAZING.
Investing in a good drink bottle is well worth it when you are on the road. Keep hydrated and save money at the same time by filling it up at camp grounds, or buying 5 litre bottled-water and filling them up yourself. Kathmandu is a great place to buy a water bottle, and they generally have a lot of sale prices on them.
All road trips call for a bit of music! Most cars these days have auxiliary ports, and you can pick up cheap cords from most places (sometimes petrol stations as well). Play music directly from your phones music library, or ever consider using Spotify if you are planning on buying a local sim card.
These things are awesome on road trips! They are hardy and resistant, and ready to capture all parts of your road trip. Put it on your dashboard, your head, take it swimming, hang it out the window.. And keep it charged using your USB car charger as mentioned above
We were lucky enough that our rental came with one of these, but if yours doesn’t, I would really recommend it. Gas cylinders are cheap to buy, we only went through a few on our trip, and were using it every day. Buy a cheap frying pan from Tesco, and cheese toasties will soon become your best friend. This also saves you money eating out all the time – we cooked lots of different meals, from stir fry’s and pastas, to heating up rice pudding and noodles.
When on the road, showers may be few and far between. Especially when its cold, and you can’t face the horror of walking back from the amenities with wet hair and a soaking towel that won’t dry. Baby wipes are great, and help keep you ‘fresh’ in between showers.

This is a huge thing to remember – DO NOT OVER-PACK! As we were moving to England from Australia, we had a lot of stuff in our car that we didn’t actually need until after our road trip had finished, and we just stowed it under the bed. I kept rotating the same clothes and outfits most of the trip, and did a few loads of washing at the caravan parks where it was affordable.

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**To read about our UK road trip, visit our Road Trip blog @