The Grey Area

I have decided to make a website targeting the communication techniques of social media sites. This site would attempt to take people from behind the lines of text and buttons used by social media sites and put not just their face behind their words, but their voice as well. It would offer the ability for users to post pictures and videos, make statuses, comment, and like or dislike subject matter, just as you would on any social site, but instead of using text and buttons to display our feelings and opinions, this site would use a series of video uploads to communicate individual stand points on any particular subject. It is meant to challenge communication skills used in social media and attempt to add more meaning and thought behind our actions on such sites.

For example, instead of pressing a like button, such as on Facebook, a user would upload a video of themselves actually saying, “I like this” or maybe even “I love this.” To utilize this video tool even more, one could even go into detail and say what they like about a certain piece or video. Using this video based form of communication it would test the text-based language we have come to learn. It would allow the comparison to be made between reading emotions and reactions, such as “LOL” and actually seeing someone laugh out loud.

In the process of fleshing out my project, I started out by planning and mapping out how I wanted the site to look. I had to take into consideration color schemes and layouts that would complement the site’s use. I reviewed various social sites, such as Facebook and Twiiter, as well as video based sites, like Vimeo and Youtube. Although I was referencing these sites, I did not want someone to feel like they were on a mildly altered version of something they were already accustomed to. I decided to use a variation of different grays as my color scheme. In my opinion, it had a cool, sleek look and from some past experience with video, I noticed that video tends to be better presented on darker backgrounds.

At this point, I did not have a title for the site. I began with a serious of mash-ups of social site names like MyFaceTube, Youbook, and TubeFace.  After looking at the color scheme I chose to use, as well as the purpose behind the site, which was to add another level of communication, and challenge the black and white functions of social media sites, I came up with the name The Grey Area.

Once I had a title, the visuals for the site all started to come together. I created three different logos, in which I kept two. One logo was text based and the other was image based. I chose Century Gothic as the font for the site because of its clean appearance. I tried to keep the navigation menus as simple as possible by omitting any drop down menus in the site navigation.

After sketching some drafts in my sketchpad, I began with the welcome page. I used this page to establish the color scheme and utilizing the space for logging in and sign up information. Then, I began to develop other pages based on the expected flow of navigation that a member would use to explore the site. So I developed the home page, a page for messaging, and a full post page to show the content and feedback on a specific post.

I was limited in web design knowledge, so I ended up creating a mock site to show what the site would look like. I tried to incorporate different elements in the mock up, such as how videos would be displayed, along with its title and author. Also, I showed how the messaging system would work. Finally I made a mock up page to showcase what a full post would look like. For this mock up in particular, I decided to add working video to it in order to further push the idea I was going for. Since I could not get the site to have an upload function for someone to post their video responses, I asked a couple of people to watch a video I posted and to record themselves giving feedback to the video. After they were done they emailed it to me and I incorporated their responses in the site. After asking about seven people who agreed to do it, it was interesting to only have two people actually go through with it.  This makes a statement that I was hoping the site would accomplish, which was to have people who actually care about a subject matter and are wiling to put themselves in the out and open for everyone to see them and not just look, like, and move on.

Now, I admit, I am a Facebooker, a tweeter, and maybe a few other terms coined by users of their respected social media sites, but, I can also admit, what I post is limited. This is partly because I favor keeping some things personal and also, because I feel sometimes people just don’t care as much as you would like them too. Personally, I cannot blame someone for not being able to fully read into my passion as they scroll across my statement on their cell phones. So many things, which may be very important in some cases, on social media sites go unheard and overlooked. With the continual growth of these particular sites, content and feedback have become such a default, it brings into question what does it mean to truly “like” something or “follow” someone. Through simulated versions of communication, such as physical interaction and dialogue, the loss of individuality is constantly growing as technology continues to advance.

In 1982, Nancy Burson used digital imaging to create a piece call Beauty Composites. The piece consisted of multiple different female celebrity faces meshed together to show how very similar their appearances were, which in turn brought into question society’s definition of beauty. Is this underlying theme of social conformity carrying over into social media?

As technology advances and the use of social networking sites become more and more popular, we seem to be losing our individuality to a series of automated interface systems that try to say what we feel with a single click of a button. As humans, we encounter different experiences, all which effect how we think, carry ourselves, and interact with others. Subjecting our self-expression to one hundred and sixty characters or putting our would-be actions into a button on the computer puts a limitation on what we want to say or how we feel.

With the constant persuasion of peers and media on social networking sites, does liking something in a simulated world retain any real meaning or has it become a bad case of jumping on the bandwagon?

In reference to the action of liking something in a virtual world, if hundreds of people you know press a button to say they like a particular subject, in order to not be left off the list of likes with your peers, do you go ahead a press this like button as well, even if you really do not like it? This system of liking attempts to mimic a real life thought, feeling or action with a computer interface. This type of simulation adds a black and white quality that removes the humanistic nature of such a decision. When do you “like”? Is there a way to “sort of like?” Can we “love” or “hate?” Is it possible to be “unsure?” People like and dislike things for there own reason. Adding a black and white quality to such an opinion based choice leaves open doors for people to develop what may be unwanted perceptions of who we are, as well as our perception of who we think others are.

In class, we spoke about Lev Manovich’s article, “The Database,” and the human-computer relationship.  He spoke about transcoding and how our participation in the virtual world affects our reality.  Well, it seems as though attempts to copy human interaction into a computer interface is causing a malfunction in our reality. Social networking and media sites have become less about the networking and information and more about a status. Whether it is by the number of friends or followers we have, what we like, and what we share, it all seems to have turned into an attempt to commercialize ourselves in a virtual world in order to shape an ideal image of who think we should be in reality.

I would like for my project to remove the ease of conformity in social networking sites. . I think a site like The Grey Area will also bring back a sense of personality into a social media. Having a site that aims toward people being more exposed and vulnerable will hopefully cause users of social media to think more carefully about what they are saying and agreeing too.ImageImageImageImage

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