Digital Projects

Final digital projects from the Spring 2016 Capstone Seminar will become public over the next two weeks. Check back for more about the ways students present their work in a digital format that demonstrate the questions that they have developed in the University of Alabama’s Department of Religious Studies.

Think Again – A multimedia website on history and perspective

A (Re)movable Feast – A Tumblr blog on food

The Identity Project – How social media influences the expression of identities

Nothing: The Podcast – A podcast about nothing and everything (available May 5 at 6:00)

Classification in the Syrian Refugee Crisis – A video

#490Perspective – An Instagram project considering the different perspectives individuals take (posts begin Friday May 6)

 

Posts from several of the Digital Projects are also posted below.

 

    #490Perspective

    blog 1If we gave you one item and asked you to take a picture and create a caption, how would you do it?

    This is the FIRST post in the #490perspective blog series. Please check out the following posts, as well!

                This is the exact question we asked participants in our project in order to highlight one major theme: the variability of perspective. We decided to mostly showcase people on the University of Alabama campus. As students we thought it would be interesting to gather results from our own demographic, but it was necessary to experiment with other individuals as well. In order to gather a vast amount of results we knew that we had to utilize a platform that most participants were familiar with and understood.

    Therefore, we chose Instagram as our main platform. For the project we made a very simple concept that would eventually result in a much bigger picture. We used a Religious Studies/Arts & Sciences coffee mug (pictured above) as our simple object. When we approached people we asked them to take a picture of the mug and caption it. This was the only instruction the participants received. We got the feeling that this confused most participants. Many individuals inquired something to the effect of “Well, how should I take it?” or “Do I need to say something specific?” which were common responses that we anticipated. Ultimately, we wanted individuals to be able to use their own imagination to illustrate their unique perception of this certain object.

    We had many participants who were markedly interested in learning the impetus and aim of the project. We gathered much input from our participants and captured many eclectic photographs and captions. You are able to look at the pictures on Instagram if you follow or search us our username: @uaperspective490. We hope to continue this project in the future in order to gather more data and have an excuse to carry around a little trinket reminding of us of our wonderful department.

     

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    E-mail Etiquette

    An illustration of an envelope open with an emerging @ symbol coming out from inside the envelope.

    Before Tinder, Yik Yak, Facebook, and before people were deciding on what phone to purchase according to what social medias it had access to, there was E-mail. It’s quick, convenient and lets you stay in touch with people you rarely see or call. It can be someone’s first impression of you, or it can be a communication tool that helps you more forward in achieving your professional goals.

    But, e-mails can also a very tricky social outlet. When we are having conversations with people face to face, we can read their unspoken messages: facial expressions, body language, vocal tone and enthusiasm in their words. With e-mail, all we have are words. Many times I have sent an e-mail that I think is clever, funny and almost legendary. When I go back and read it later, (usually because I have not received a reply) I find that I really came off as quite the jerk. Truth is, word choice can make or break an e-mail.

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    Yik Yak Identities

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    Unrestricted. Uncensored. A place of freedom to express and communicate your innermost thoughts. Sounds pretty good, right? This seems to be the biggest draw for the app Yik Yak. Launched in 2013, Yik Yak has risen to be one of the most popular apps for young adults. With 1.8 million users, over 95% of them are college aged. This app claims to be an “anonymous messaging application”, where in 200 characters “college students [can] connect with their community”.

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    Tinder Identities

    Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 9.04.33 AM

    Over the last few weeks I have been exploring the world of Tinder. In the midst of my swiping a few things began to stick out to me. First, there is a diverse subset of people on Tinder. My 30-mile radius contains grad students, international students, undergraduate students, PhD students, workers, entertainers, a variety of different races, ect. Tinder users claim to be looking for different things through the app. While Tinder has a reputation for Hook-ups, people use the app to find dates, life partners, friends, and just to have interesting conversations as well. Another notable Tinderism is the commonality of profile pictures among people in my radius—often containing puppies, children, and/or other women.

    Perhaps the most interesting part of a Tinder profile is the “about me” section. In this section, users are given a space to say anything they wish to say for the other person to read about them. You would think that with the total freedom to write whatever you wish these would look different for each person, however, they begin to look the same after a few swipes because they still contain common elements. Common elements of this section (as depicted in the word cloud above) include interests, school, status, major, pop-culture references, quotes, religious and Greek affiliations, ect.

    The most used word in the about me section is “I’m.” What is interesting about the I’m that is used in the about me section is that one puts-forth that they are describing themselves by using this word. I’m religious. I’m a soccer player. I’m white. I’m black. I’m hot. I’m funny. I’m such-and-such major. I’m a student. The word I’m in each of these instances and in the instances in which it is used on Tinder classifies people into certain Identification categories but doesn't necessarily lay claim to who they are.

    Identification categories have different meanings based on the context in which they are used. For example, to say I’m black on Tinder may either be redundant or humorous based on a person’s profile picture. To say I’m religious on Tinder may mean that I’m not looking for hook-ups or that I adhere to a particular religion. These claims to identification categories sit in as your Tinder identity, but does that identity align with your values and ethical stances? What are you saying on Tinder when you call yourself athletic? Is it a statement about your body or a proclamation of your love for sports? Is your Tinder Identity your True identity? What is a True identity anyhow?

     

    Image: Screen Shot from https://www.jasondavies.com/wordcloud/

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