Creating a Structure

In our meeting on the 1st March, we decided we needed to come up with a structure for our research and presentation, since we had a lot of different sources and information but no real direction. Obviously, the cost of living online has many different areas of interest, but we decided to narrow our research down to primarily looking at how living online creates a surveillance state/ society of control, and the effect this has on the self as well as society. We will use theory throughout our presentation to ground the points we make, but we also hope to use video clips, and make it slightly interactive so that it remains interesting.

Structure of presentation

Statement with key aims, methodology and a quote from theory.

How living online creates a surveillance state/ society of control (incorporate theory throughout e.g. foucault, deleuze, etc) vs. how living online affects the self.

  • Data collection: through smart tech and targeted ads >> leads to political manipulation (cambridge analytica) and other manipulation e.g social credit scores like in china (black mirror’s nosedive)
  • Rise of technology: computers becoming smarter than humans, effect on human labour and human creativity
    • Human and non-human agency (geography)
  • Language of privacy agreements: analyse sentences from terms and conditions, in what way do social media/tech companies try to manipulate their customers through language?

Conclusions: Reflect on methods — are we compliant in this surveillance state or society of control? How have we benefited from living online in this research?

Presentation ideas:

  • Pollev (we collect data in our presentation from George and Rosa)
  • Clips from youtube e.g. climax of black mirror episode Nosedive at beginning
  • Rate George and Rosa as audience members like in Nosedive

Data Collection Sources:

  • Cambridge analytica
  • Chinese social credit scores
  • Black mirror’s nosedive
  • ‘Who’s watching you?’ podcast and Surveillance Capitalism
  • Foucault’s surveillance theory

Rise of technology sources:

  • Smart technology examples
  • Gramophone, film typewriter (Histories, Electronic Warfare and Storage & Memory sections)
  • A declaration of the independence of cyberspace by John Perry Barlow 1996: the power of cyberspace and legal implications
  • Human and Non-human agency by Hayden Lorimer

Language of Privacy Agreements sources

  • Read Before You Agree: How to Understand Online Terms of Service – examples of clauses big social media / tech companies use, word lengths, etc
  • What’s wrong with online privacy policies? By Irene Pollach – discusses the language of privacy policies and the implications

22nd January: Potential Research Question

Today we discussed potential ideas for our research question. Possibilities included the questions of government response to drug use and of human welfare vs. animal welfare. We also decided we wanted to stay away from certain topical issues such as Brexit, Trump and current international wars.

The main idea we came up with is Exploring the ethical challenges/conflicts of Virtual Reality. We will narrow our question down so that it is more succinct, but for now we can look at video games, film and TV, the latest technological updates and psychological studies based around VR.

In order to narrow down our focus, we thought about how our different disciplines might interplay with VR.

Politics: User protection and privacy, virtual criminality and other issues we might explore all relate to politics and the impact on society in some way.

Geography: Digitisation of labour – where are the minerals and materials used for creating the technology needed for VR found, and is there a negative impact? In what parts of the world does VR thrive, and will the ethics depend on where in the world it is being used?

Classics: Many video games use the ancient world within their stories (Assassins creed, God of War..), what are the politics of presenting the past in such a realistic way? Is complete accuracy important? Could history be overshadowed by virtual reality?

We also thought about general topics we can discuss when considering the conflict of whether VR is ethical or not:

  • Desensitisation of virtual reality – especially with violence/sex
  • VR in healthcare: distractions for injections, overcoming phobias, mental health treatment
  • Virtual criminality
  • User protection and privacy
  • In game trauma, PTSD
  • VR as torture

Some potential cultural representations of VR we can look at include: Black Mirror, Ready Player One, The Matrix.

Abstract and initial ideas

Essay Abstract:

In this essay I will be discussing the brutal use of animals in Ancient Roman spectacle, such as in the Colosseum and Flavian Amphitheatre. I will be arguing that the use of animals had a multitude of purposes besides satiating the Romans’ desires for blood, primarily being to avoid conflict and retain order within the Roman Empire. The main purposes I pinpoint are the use of animals to display the Emperor’s political power, including highlighting their wealth and foreign conquests; use of animals to create theatre through mythological re-enactments; providing a spectacle of nature that fascinated citizens; and using damnatio ad bestias to deter crime by threatening criminals with brutal execution methods. I will be using a range of ancient sources by Roman historians, poets, orators and philosophers to demonstrate the different uses of animals and the attitudes Romans had towards this practice. Ultimately, I will conclude that orchestrated conflict was used to prevent societal conflict in Ancient Rome.


Research Question Ideas // Areas of interest:

  • Contemporary conflicts for Aboriginal Australians: Stolen Generations continuing into today
  • Contemporary conflicts for Native Americans (land rights and land destruction, mass incarceration, exploitation of natural resources, survival of native languages)
  • Conflict of generations: Are millennials in a better or worse position than previous generations?
  • Human welfare vs. animal welfare: is there a conflict of interests, is one more important?
  • Conflict of representation – minority and LGBTQ represntation in film: use of white actors to play Asian and Native characters, use of cisgender actors to play trans characters, use of able-bodied actors to play disabled characters…Is it helpful to include these representations or detrimental to the communities who are potentially falsely represented?
  • Conflict between entertainment and ethics – Where is the line between necessary/narrative related violence and glorification for shock value in TV shows? e.g. sex scenes and sexual violence in Game of Thrones and similar shows, Thirteen Reasons Why shocking scenes.