Multi-Hyphenate; Childish Gambino

Multi-hyphenate is a term much in use these days.  It means someone who has or is known to have several principal occupations.  One of my favourite multi-hyphenate artists these days is Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino.  Glover is a rapper, writer, actor, producer and comedian.  He is successfully delivering art in many facets of the entertainment and multimedia world, which cannot be easy.  Glover’s latest endeavour is “Atlanta”, a comedy-drama series following the journey of two cousins as they try to climb the ladder in the music industry.  According to, Atlanta has had the highest rated debut of any cable comedy series since 2013.  What is even more interesting is that Glover was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and was disallowed from watching TV growing up. 

Glover released his second studio album in 2013, entitled “Because The Internet”.  It is in this album alone, where he takes advantage of his creativity and infuses his skills.  The album was accompanied by two short-screen movies, a screen play, a visual performance during live concerts and Glover even brought his main protagonist from his album into life by dressing like that character during press releases.  Through this, Glover started building a world not just for himself but for his followers. 

“I started doing ’30 Rock’ and started writing ‘Mystery Team’ at the beginning of that. While I was doing ‘Mystery Team,’ I started practising stand-up. While I was doing stand up, I got ‘Community.’ It’s like I planted trees six years ago, and now they have fruit,” says Glover.

We talked about immersive reading last year -using more than one of our five senses at a time whilst reading.  Glover seems to be immersive in every aspect in his life.  All his characters seem to be connected and familiar, and the music he makes acts as the soundtrack to this immersive world he has built. 

“The person on stage when I do stand-up is the exact same person who’s doing rap,” -Glover.

As someone with an interest in multi-media, I find Donald Glover a huge influence.  His talents free flow from one medium to the next making him the antithesis of what multi-media means.  As well as this, Glover remains humble and rather not be labelled “as this or that“.  I hope he doesn’t mind if I label him a genius. 






Under A Plastic Cloud; Facebook as a Promotional Tool

I rely (sadly) on Facebook quite a bit.  I use it to my advantage for a number of reasons.  I keep in touch with family and friends at home or abroad via Facebook, but mainly I utilise it as a promotional tool.  There are many step by step guides online about how to market or promote your page or business on Facebook.

As a hobby I promote and organise gigs once or twice a month in certain venues around Cork city.  I realise that one of the first places people tend to learn about upcoming shows is through their Facebook news feed or the “events” feature.  People get invited to an event, they might take a look to see what the event is about but just because they click “going” can you truly rely on them to turn up on the night?  A little misleading perhaps but nonetheless people are seeing the event.

Someone who shares my woes as a promoter is Phil Hope.  Phil runs a monthly music event called Under A Plastic Cloud.  I know that Phil, like myself, relies on the exposure Facebook offers so I set aside a couple of questions for him to answer…

What is Under A Plastic Cloud, and what does it mean?

PH; “It’s a night where I play records from the 1960’s across all the genres so not specifically a northern soul night or an R&B or a beat and psych night but you will hear all those types of sounds across the night. I wanted a name that sort of covered all those things like an umbrella and my wife is fond of telling me my obsession for records is like living under a plastic cloud.”

How do you advertise or promote your club night?

“We do a poster run every month and I try to make the posters the type of thing folk want on their bedroom walls. As well as that there is a Facebook page for the night in general and I use my own Facebook page to advertise each individual night. I set up an event page for each monthly night too.”

Do you think the Facebook “events” tool is effective?

“I think it depends in what way you want it to be effective – if you think it’s going to give you an accurate figure of how many people and who specifically will come to the night then no but if you use it as a way to gauge how many people are even aware of your night that can help give you an idea.”

What social media platforms (websites or apps) are you best at using and why?

“I mainly use Facebook as I simply don’t understand a lot of the others?!”

What’s your least favourite social media tool and why?

“Had a go at Twitter but couldn’t get used to it I think because it limits how many words you can use and I struggle with that!”

What do you think is lacking in terms of social media platforms for music?

“Hard to say really as I mainly use it to advertise my night I don’t tend to use it to listen to or search for music though I have found some decent bits on SoundCloud?”

Can you compare how you searched for vinyl-for your collection, 10 years ago to how you may search nowadays?

“The internet has changed record collecting massively. It used to be that you had to be in the right place at the right time and also really know your stuff. We relied on lists that were distributed by record dealers and we would all be sat waiting for the list to land and those of us who didn’t have a phone in the house would run to the nearest phone box armed with a load of 2p pieces and try to be the first to order. Nowadays you can check E-bay or Discogs on the phone in your pocket! I think as well social media has reduced the amount of knowledge you need or needed because people put playlists up all the time and if there’s something you didn’t know you can check it on Youtube and hear it – we used to drive for two or three hours sometimes just because a certain DJ was playing and he would be the only person with a certain record so it was the only way to hear it.”

Where do you see the relationship between music and the internet going next?

“Hard for a Luddite like me to know really but I am guessing it will be inextricably linked like all life seems to be with the internet these days?”

All in all, Facebook is a numbers game.  Facebook is first and foremost a communication and networking tool.  It is also very user friendly and generates exposure for many businesses. The more followers you have and the more incented they are to share your posts, the more notoriety you will get in return.

Suas 8×8

Suas, as we know (those who stayed listening in school), is as Gaeilge for “up” or “upwards”.  Suas is also the name given to one of the fastest growing charities in Ireland at the moment.  Suas was founded in 2002 by students enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin.  Their indefatigable efforts are aimed towards education for all children and young people here and abroad.  They believe by garnering basic literacy skills, children will be able to realise their full potential and use their skills to “escape the traps of poverty”.

Suas have many different programs on the go.  The charity provides mentors to children in “under-resourced” areas and communities in Ireland to help them on a one-to-one basis, developing their reading, writing and maths skills.  Overseas, Suas encourages people to get involved in their volunteer programmes in India, Kenya or Zambia over a ten-week period during the summer.

What came to my attention just recently though, is the charity’s forthcoming project “Suas 8×8”.  This will be a touring festival taking place in the autumn months throughout different University campuses in Ireland.  The festival will focus on the global refugee crisis through the medium of photo and film.  Suas intends on putting a “face to the crisis”, by exhibiting documentaries, work-shops and discussions.  I intend on becoming part of that.  I have gleefully volunteered to help with this festival, be it as coordinator or silent observer.  I aim to document my experience here, on my blog and I hope by the end of it I come out bursting with new skills and ideas.

Please stay tuned!

Textual Humanities; Getting Intimate With Text.


Getting intimate with text meant that I must choose a piece of text, in this instance a screenplay, that I connect with and analyse it via a visualisation tool(s).  The purpose of this assignment was to learn from the text what we could from a visual and graphical standpoint.  What information could we gather by not reading the entire text word for word? What questions could we ask or what correlations could be made in this manner of analysing?

Personally, I would be very much a visual learner.  Reading long pieces of text or information can be tedious for me, I tend to absorb more through infographics, graphs, pie charts, or through illustration or photographs.  Even when reading a book I immediately resort to visualising the characters and their surroundings and environments, I have to in order to get through all that text.  This is why I have been looking forward to this particular assignment, as it’s fundamentally about visualisation.

In class we talked about two main visualisation tools- Raw, and Voyant (a French term for “seeing”).  Raw is a project that was developed by Density Design Lab based in the Polytechnic University of Milan.  The Lab’s aim is to “exploit the potential of information visualization and information design and provide innovative and engaging visual artefacts to enable researchers and scholars to build solid arguments.”

I had not previously heard of any of these tools before starting this assignment, so I was not completely sure of how they worked.  Luckily there was a video within Raw’s website that provided guidelines on how to get started.  All I had to do next was pick a screenplay.  I had recently discovered that my brother possessed a copy of the screenplay “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, so I decided to go with it and run it through the first tool, which was Raw.  I watched the video as an aid before starting and the process seemed uncomplicated.  I copied and pasted the screenplay directly into Raw and immediately there was an issue.  The text was indented, which caused error messages underneath the text box.  To overcome this issue I had to process the text a bit better so I cleaned it via Microsoft Word, taking out any unnecessary text and removing the indentations.  It should be noted that before I got to this stage, Raw had been freezing anytime I tried pasting text into it, so to get this far took longer than it probably should have.  Unfortunately, as I tried working my way down along the process, picking charts and layouts, it still kept freezing and causing unnecessary delays, so I decided not to work with Raw from here on, which was disappointing.

I decided from here to re-evaluate my chosen piece of text and to perhaps develop a different angle. 

I chose to stick with the movie/screenplay theme but to pick a director and analyse some of their best works (in my opinion) through the visualisation tools.  I chose Martin Scorsese.  I was hoping that by analysing his screenplays that I would find correlations between his movies without having to read the entire text or re-watch the movies.  Perhaps I might discover something new about his style of writing or directing. 

Goodfellas, is the first movie I picked for analysis.  I ran it through Voyant and again, I was left a bit disappointed.


It was obvious from first glance at the word cloud (at the left hand side) that the words “Henry”, “and”, “the”, “Jimmy” etc. are the most prevalent throughout the script.  We are also told that there are over 24 thousand words, including over 3 thousand “unique” words and that the most used word in the corpus is “the”.  Is that all the information we can get out of it?

What happens if I then remove the most common words from the cloud and reload it?


This time I could see a graph to the right hand side that I did not see the first time.  The graph presented the trends in words, and from here it is clear that the word “to” is now the most used out of that specific group of words.  But is this actually telling me anything new about Goodfellas?  Is there anything here that I do not already know?  Goodfellas is a movie centred on organised crime, money, gangs, society and subcultures- but if a person had not previously seen this movie would they pick up on those themes just by looking at this Voyant analysis? I am not so sure.

Next I decided to pick a movie from Scorsese that I had not seen myself to investigate whether or not I could pick up on the theme of it just by looking at Voyant.  I ran The Last Waltz through Voyant’s database and this is what I was given after taking out the most common words;


As mentioned, I have not seen this movie before and I am not aware of what it is about either, though I had heard of it, and from looking at these results I am not sure if I can figure it out.  What stumps me most about these results, is that if you have ever seen a Scorsese movie you will learn that he has an uncanny ear for dialogue and for churning out very quotable scenes.  I felt that this has not been portrayed through Voyant as well as it perhaps should.

There is another website that we briefly mentioned in class called Bookworm.  This is an interesting site as it is also based on frequency of words, phrases or themes, but it measures them over a period of time.  The software for Bookworm was developed in Harvard University and can also be used for science as it can be for movie directors.  Here are the results when I typed in “violence”, “society” and “money” as themes of Martin Scorsese’s work;


What is interesting to see here is that “money” is dramatically more prominent a theme in Scorsese’s works that the other two themes.  Money remains prominent even when I go on to re-enter different themes into the system.  When I take out the option of money however, I get another interesting result;


The themes of society and crime become a focus.  From 1988 to 2002, there is a rather big spike in the idea of society in Scorsese movies and from 1986 onwards a spike in crime can also be seen.  When I looked to Google to search for what movies were produced during those time frames, I discovered that the graph may have been referencing such movies as;

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Goodfellas (1990)

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Casino (1995)

Kundun (1997)

Bringing Out The Dead (1999) and

Gangs of New York (2002)

It is a relief to discover that the graph is fairly accurate in its representation.  All of the above movies deal with societal, cultural and criminal issues as well as historical.  The biggest peak on the graph represents the society theme in 1997, when Kundun was released.  The plot of Kundun focuses on the true story of how a small boy from a modest family in Tibet, grows up to become the Dalai Lama. 

Seeing as how Kundun is based on real life events I decided from here to investigate how the theme of crime may correlate with real events of the times represented.  Perhaps Scorsese was inspired by what was happening around him at the time?  The biggest spike on the graph for crime was in 2002 when Gangs of New York was released.  GoNY of course was based in mid-19th century New York and is associated with immigration, violence and revenge.  I looked to old news articles online from the year 2000 to 2002 in the New York area.  I read that in 2000, unemployment hit lows of around 5%, then rising to 8% by 2002.  According to the US Census figures from 2000, around 41 million Americans claimed to have been wholly or partly of Irish ancestry as immigration from Ireland to the US reached peak figures in 1850, exactly around the time Gangs of New York was based.

I was glad to have come across Bookworm and to discover some interesting statistics and information which relates Scorsese’s movies to real life events.  I think it was important to be able to make some correlation using one of the visualisation tools.  What I really wanted to do initially was to analyse two or three Elizabeth Taylor movie scripts, and maybe I could discover some new information about why she chose those movies or if there have been many similarities between some of her most famous works, or even what made the movies she was in worthy of an Academy Award.  I felt like Raw and Voyant restricted me in finding the answers, if there are answers, to those questions.  I wanted to use the opportunity to really delve in deep but I was barely scratching the service.

Maybe I could have discovered that Elizabeth Taylor had a specific way of choosing her movies, or perhaps there is a formula for producing Oscar worthy scripts or screenplays.


We can learn a great deal from analysing and visualising text.  Then maybe there are times, depending on how we go about it, we may actually learn very little.  Whatever the case, it is important that we always at least try.  At first I thought I was not going to learn anything new about the director I have grown so accustomed to, but I see that there may be a particular flow to how he chooses his next movie. The work and time invested into the analysation of text can be very much worthwhile depending on what it is that is discovered.  Take for instance James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”.  There were over 100 works from around the world put under sophisticated statistical analysis by researchers in Poland’s Institute of Nuclear Physics.  What they discovered was that Finnegans Wake was one of the more complex and mathematically influenced works of the 100 or so pieces of text analysed.  The researchers looked into sentence lengths and found that their structure was that of a fractal- complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales.  Scientists use fractals to model re-occurring patterned structures such as snowflakes and galaxies. 

Joyce once said that he wrote Finnegans Wake “to keep the critics busy for 300 years”. Perhaps he was not lying.





Spatial Humanities, Open Street Map Participation


Open Street Map was first launched 11 years ago and was created by Steve Coast, an entrepreneur from Walderslade, London.  Open Street Mapping is essentially a way to edit maps in real time, focusing on current buildings, roads etc.  One’s contribution to a map is also recorded and visible by other potential mappers who may then “validate” or comment on that contribution as they see fit. 

Before contributing to OSM as part of my course, I must admit that I had not previously heard of it.  As part of our assignment, we were required to register with Open Street Map and either contribute to a Humanitarian Task, or to a Neighbourhood (local or otherwise) with which we are familiar.

I didn’t fully comprehend the advantages of using it and one of the first questions that sprang to mind when researching OSM was “What is the point of this when we have Google Maps?”  Upon confirming my account with OSM, I am immediately greeted with a list of “important things to know”.  The most noteworthy on this list for me was the short guide to what OSM does not include and perhaps this is one of several reasons why it stands out from the likes of Google maps.  OSM does not include “opinionated data”, copyrighted sources, ratings or historical and hypothetical features.  One of the more obvious reasons why it differentiates from Google maps is that it is editable. We are contributors as opposed to passive observers, and our contributions could have implications.  

But before I was fully aware of any of this, I dived straight in.  I picked a task at random, as there are pages and page of them and some are in more urgent need of mapping than others.  I had never mapped before so I was clueless as to what I should expect.  When I clicked onto the task, I was given a landscape that was green but very blurry, it was impossible for me to decipher a river from a road.  I thought that maybe all the tasks are the same and that each landscape was going to be just as blurry as the next.  I simply did not know where to begin.  I asked myself “Why would they upload bad quality aerial images for us to try and map?”  The answer to which I am still unaware of but I would be very interested to know.  I am assuming it is down to bad weather conditions.  So I took a step back from the project.  In fact, I took a whole day off from it and decided to come back to it again with a clear mind.

I decided the main reason why I became discombobulated using OSM was because of my unfamiliarity with it and perhaps over-zealousness. 

I chose to start off mapping a neighbourhood that I was well versed in and to then move onto another Humanitarian task afterward, by doing so I was hoping that I would become equipped with the tool and its interface whilst also incorporating both requirements for the assignment instead of just one.

I searched for my home town of Mitchelstown and I discovered that it had already been completely mapped, so instead I looked for discrepancies. 

There were one or two lane ways that had been given the incorrect name, as well as one or two buildings that had not been listed on the map, I edited those.  I went further toward my house and started tagging some historical points of interest, such as a ringfort and fulacht fiadh.

From Mitchelstown, I moved onto the village where my Father was born and raised and where I would have spent a lot of time as a child.  It is the village of Coachford, located on the north side of the River Lee.  The difference with mapping Mitchelstown and Coachford though, is that I did not need to reference any other maps when working on Mitchelstown but with Coachford I found myself relying on Google Maps for the place names of particular areas. 

Open Street Map may be compared with Google Maps but I now realise that they can both be used happily in conjunction with one another. 

They both share differences (one considered as open source, the other closed) as well as similarities, and they both solve the basic “where” question.  I find the most praiseworthy aspect of OSM is that it is run completely by the voluntary efforts made by that of the online masses.

I mapped dozens of features of Coachford, which really helped me grasp the editing tool-ID Editor

Mapping a building is straight forward, you trace all around the building with your mouse, stopping at each corner to connect a new line, as it doesn’t allow for curvature, and same is said for mapping roads.  Mapping a particular area is essentially the same method.  Once I finished mapping the village I felt I was comfortable enough to start on a Humanitarian task.  I logged in to and took my time in browsing the various tasks.  In the end I decided to go for an area in Sri Lanka, called Uduvil.

 Uduvil is located north of Jaffna City, and is an agricultural village.  It is on OSM’s radar because it has been proposed as a new area for buildings aimed at the elderly, requested on behalf of Engineers without Borders.

In this instance the mapping process is laid out slightly differently to mapping a neighbourhood.  Humanitarian mapping is measured in “tiles”, the tile being an outlined square area with which you map inside the lines.  I found that the tiles made the mapping structurally easier and appreciable.  The requirement for my assignment was to map a minimum of three tiles, and to validate another’s mapping efforts.  I worked through three tiles, being as detailed as I possibly could.  Unfortunately, most of the area that I chose didn’t have many buildings that I could map.  Instead there were pockets of residential houses and places of worship, with the majority of the landscape consumed by greenery.

I went on to validate another user’s tile.  The area I chose to validate was particularly dense with “buildings”.  Every one of those buildings were marked as such, which must have been fairly time consuming.  I did however, feel that maybe one or two of those buildings could have been something specific, such as a school or hospital.  I went in for a closer look, and I used Google Maps again as an aid.  Nothing to my eye was left unmarked or incorrectly marked, so therefore their work was commendable.  I did find the process of mapping Uduvil a pleasurable one after my initial struggle and I decided to reflect on how my mapping efforts could contribute in the overall aims of Open Street Map and Engineers without Boarders.

I’ve learned a lot in a short space of time, about OSM and about how I could utilize these types of initiatives.  I hope that Engineers without Boarders, through mine and others contributions can possibly eradicate poverty in some of the more harsh areas of Sri Lanka.  The implications of my mapping could help engineers to figure out the best route to take to the nearest residential area, or clinic or what roads or pathways urgently need repairing. 

Maybe they could see where they could build a water filtration system or maybe there won’t be any implications of my work.  Time will tell. 

There has been many accounts of how OSM has ameliorated disastrous situations.  Take for instance, the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010.  Over 100,000 people were feared dead.  The OSM community immediately sprang into action and traced roads from images only previously available on Yahoo.  Not long into this operation, it became the wonted base map for response organisations such as the UN, the World Bank and Search and Rescue Teams.  OSM continues to contribute in Haiti even now-6 years on, and the data is consistently improved upon. 

What I most appreciate about OSM is that I, as an individual, get to decide what I feel should be included on a map.  Many big companies have the monopoly over maps and that’s when they decide what they find relevant, emphasising some areas and perhaps not including others whatsoever.  With OSM that control is given back to the individual.  That bit of control can help advertise businesses in local areas, it can highlight hospitals or clinics that may have been otherwise overlooked. 

Big map providers are thought of as the truth, but as we can see with Open Street Map there is much more depth and richness to it, much more that can be included and seen as “true”.  Recently in class, as well as OSM, we were also introduced to “crowdsourcing”.  We had to contemplate on how our neighbourhood could be used as data.  In crowdsourcing, a lot of people can be involved in modest sized projects.  For example, maybe in my future projects I could use crowdsourcing and OSM to analyse how healthy my neighbourhood is?  Or what my neighbourhood needs in terms of resources?  The possibilities could be endless.


OSM and I initially got off on the wrong foot.  But since then we have happily made up.  I am still unsure whether or not I am mapping correctly, and for the sake of potential humanitarian aid, I hope I am.  Mapping a village in west Cork carries different implications than mapping an impoverished area of Sri Lanka, but both are just as important for different societal reasons.  We need OSM and crowdsourcing information to learn more about ourselves, our neighbourhood and the world around us.  We no longer have to sit idly by and helpless as an earthquake shakes and devastates.  We can contribute.  It might seem like a miniscule contribution, but every small contribution can form something substantial.  From a technical standpoint, OSM and ID Editor may not agree with everyone (including me) initially, but you must give some time to familiarise with it, the website provides a brief tutorial for beginners also.  In the end it could even turn into a hobby or pastime.  And though it may be a hobby for us in the Western world, it could be a survival guide for those in the Middle East.




Canva; “Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software”.

I would consider myself to be a visual learner.  I surround myself with gifs and memes, and when it comes to academia I gravitate towards infographics, mind-maps and charts to observe key pieces of information.  So it’s not surprising that I chose a graphics based tool to review.  In my area of study (Digital Humanities and IT), we cross paths with a myriad of visualisations every day, in many different formats.  I think then it is prudent that we should be able to create our own graphics in order to convey, share or focus our knowledge or opinions, even if we have a lower level of computer literacy.

Enter “”.  Canva has deemed itself the “Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software”, and it is definitely true to its word.  It is an open source software and its simplicity in my opinion is much needed.  I am familiar with Photoshop, Gimp, Photoplus and InDesign but as most of us know Photoshop et al, can be convoluted, time consuming and of course very expensive. 

Canva was created in 2012 by Melanie Perkins of Sydney, Australia.  The idea for Canva stemmed from the fact that whilst teaching graphic design to her students, they struggled with the basics.  Perkins then formed a partnership with Cliff Obrecht and from there they initially created Fusion Books – an online design tool for designing high school yearbooks.  They later went on to launch Canva after realising that the technology they developed had even more potential.

The website as mentioned previously, is  Its interface, as it should be, is bright and simple, and very encouraging.  Canva may be used for designing posters, profile pictures, Facebook banners, infographics and pie/bar charts.  It revolves entirely around controls such as drag-and-drop, which makes adding, removing, and editing elements onto your canvas a cakewalk.  Canva stores a vast amount of text and images in its repository, the one slight snag is that you will have to pay $1 per image once your design is downloaded (which is still rather inexpensive).  Also, having said that, the software allows the user to upload many personal images for manipulation, so downloading the software’s images is not completely necessary.  When it comes to its colour scheme, at first glance Canva provides a palette of up to about 8 colours, but if you’re after a specific colour or hue then the colour-picker provided may help with that and it even allows you to enter a hexadecimal code for that specific hue.  There are also video tutorials available upon launching your account of how to work your way around the website.  Users can also create videos and gif images which can then be uploaded to social media accounts.  Your work can then be saved and exported to PDF and PNG depending on what it is you have created.

If you are a design pro, then you may find Canva a bit limiting in what it has to offer.  Canva is very much aware of this, as it never had the intention of taking over pro tools such as the aforementioned Photoshop or InDesign.  With Canva the everyday user has everything to gain and nothing to lose by utilising it, but the professional has nothing to lose and not much else to gain. 

Regardless of this, for the user who simply wants to make a flyer, poster, invitation or meme then Canva will be your best friend.  It helps the average user to overcome any design fears.  Canva employs designers and also reaches out to photographers and illustrators to share their works on the website for us to avail of.  It also allows for collaboration with others and provides creative inspiration via a stream of designs previously made by registered users, and this is why I feel it deserves recognition on DiRT(which is a hugely insightful directory for research tools, see link below).

Since its origination in 2012, Canva has been growing from strength to strength, opening an office in Manila in 2014 and eventually raising additional funds of approx. 6 million dollars in 2015.  It also gained new investors that year, including Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson.  From reading reviews about Canva the outlook on the entire software looks positive.  It also seems to be escalating in rank on many tech based websites.  Canva has since created a workplace version of their software, which allows for team collaboration on various potential projects.  Smart Company gave Canva a gleaming review and listed it number 5 out of a total 75 in its article: “75 Best Tools for Skyrocketing Business Growth in 2016”.  If you have access to internet and a computer you’re basically more than half way there to designing your first masterpiece.  Canva is a smart tool that everyone should experience, for the computer savvy and the not so computer savvy.


I suppose you can’t really start off a blog post or an essay without giving a definition of the subject in question.  The subject is Feminism, particularly Cyberfeminism.  As we know, [1]feminism is a belief that men and women should be treated as equals; equal pay and equal rights.  It’s an organised movement in support of females and their best interests.  Feminism has been evolving since its origination in the 19th century.  It started as a way of gaining women’s suffrage and eventually led to women’s right to vote; New Zealand being among the first countries to grant voting rights to women in 1893. 

Jumping into the 20th century, the first women’s/feminist bookstore in New York was opened in 1972, called “Labyris Books”.  This store had a slogan; “The Future Is Female”,[2] and was first seen on t-shirts back in the 70s, made by radical lesbian separatist feminists, as a way of promoting the book store and feminism in general.  Then it was seen on buttons and badges, and now there’s been a resurgence of this slogan, with models and musicians such as St. Vincent seen wearing the same t-shirt as the feminists before her.

But let’s have a look at 21st century feminism.  I’m obviously female, but I grew up in a male dominant household.  I believe in feminism, I think the movement in itself and its history is fascinating to follow.  I don’t believe women should reject chivalry but I do believe that it’s important for me to have feminism, as the course I’m currently studying (Digital Humanities) is very much tech based.  Which led me to question if there were many women in the tech industry, who studied computer science, python coding and HTML, like I’m currently studying.  And then I discovered that there is actually a particular branch of feminism dedicated to women, the internet and technology, and it’s called [3]Cyberfeminism.

Sadie Plant[4] is a feminist and Philosopher, and in 1997 she published “Zeros + Ones: Digital Women and the New Technocultures“.  Plant’s view on Cyberfeminism is as follows; “….an absolutely post-human insurrection – the revolt of an emergent system which includes women and computers, against the world view and material reality of a patriarchy which still seeks to subdue them”. 

Cyberfeminism isn’t even a 21st century term. 

It was developed from 1992 onwards, but it was influenced by the writings of Donna Haraway back in 1985 in her essay entitled, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”.  Essentially, Haraway believes that technology can assist many of the problems women face in society, by banishing essentialism (not defining something in terms of its essence) and moving towards a world with “cyborgs” that shouldn’t be necessarily gender specific. 

What is also interesting to note about Haraway is she rejects traditional feminist views that women should be put on a platform above men, and the assumptions that all men are one way and women another.

What is the most important thing I’ve learned here is thankfully, women are involved and influential in technology today.  In Ireland alone, women are flying the technology flag at full mast.[1]  Ann O’Dea is CEO and editor of Silicon Republic, which is leading source for technology, science and support for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Anna Scally is head of KPMG’s Technology Media and Telecoms practice.  She also leads their centre of excellence in Emerging Technology Companies and Innovative Start-ups.  These women, amongst many others (36 others to be specific) are seen as “The Top Irish Women in Technology in 2014”.

It’s good to know that women’s influence in the world of business and tech is growing, particularly for future generations, as everything nowadays is computer and technology orientated.  Before when you pictured in your head an image of a computer scientist, you’d almost imagine a Bill Gates character, but now we’re moving on very quickly, and there are new innovations encouraging young boys and girls to explore the fields of Science and Technology.

“No industry or country can reach their full potential until women reach their full potential” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook. [2]



  6.     more-women-in-tech-infographic

What Are Selfies Doing To Us?


Selfies have become a huge phenomenon in the last few years, with Australia claiming to have originally branded the term in 2013.[1]  Anyone with a camera phone is doing it, and let’s face it, they’re probably lying if they say they don’t! There are even articles available online about which phones take the best selfies (number 1 being the HTC Desire Eye, apparently).[2]

But why do we bother taking selfies? And so many of them at that.  If I were to log onto Instagram or Facebook right now, I bet the majority of my feed will be taken up with duckface poses.  In fact, according to Samsung[3], selfies take up one-third of all photographs taken by people aged 18-24, with the likes of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram conveying the brunt of that load.  And it isn’t just a female thing either.  In the past year, 50% of men, in the above age bracket, are no strangers to taking selfies also.

So why do we do it? Perhaps to get extra Facebook likes?

Well, there definitely seems be a body image or body conscious reasoning behind it.  Of course, there’s also the reason of wanting to share a moment with friends or followers, but for the most part it’s for validation.  Self-portraits or selfies are a way of reminding others who we are, taking control into our own hands.  After all, it’s much easier to edit a picture taken by ourselves than by someone else.  Thanks to the range of filters available on Instagram, it is now very difficult to take a bad picture.

What effects are selfies taking on people’s self-esteem?

The result of taking these self-portraits or selfies seems to be conflicting.  On one hand, selfies seem to help the image conscious.  The slew of Facebook “likes” one may get after uploading an image may make a person feel popular or even increase their sense of self-worth.  The more “likes” a person garners the more it seems to in-still the feeling that their face or image is actually worth looking at and “liking”.   Then on the other hand, the action of taking selfies is now an obsession in our culture and that alone is potentially dangerous.  [4] published a survey which stated that 53% of people feel bad when other people post images of them online. 

Again, perhaps it’s because we’re losing that sense of self control over our own image that’s so unnerving to us.  According to The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,[5] a shocking 13% of surgeons reported that there was in increase in reconstructive surgeries due to patients being unhappy with how they appear in selfies and other images posted online.

So what can we do to stop our self-esteem from directly being affected by selfies?

It’s probably easier said than done, especially when it comes to such sensitive topics as low self-esteem, as we’ve all experienced it at least once in our lives, even if it was a minor issue.  But for some people it’s constant.  So maybe we need to work harder to not let ourselves become so hung up on such facetious things like Facebook “likes”.  To quote Shakespeare, it shouldn’t be the “be all and the end all” of our entire self-worth or value.  Most, if not all, images of models online or in the papers are Photoshopped to within an inch of their lives, but we seem to forget that, and take it as being real, and instantly compare them to ourselves. 

This doesn’t have to mean that we need to stop taking selfies altogether, but just to keep it in perspective and not fall into the merciless pit of self-validation.  Selfies should be a fun act of being in the moment and enjoying your surroundings either by yourself or with others. 








*Selfie, courtesy of me.

Twessay 2

It’s true.  The method of which we tell a story has dramatically evolved since the time of Shakespeare, even since our grandparent’s time.  We no longer limit ourselves to just reading directly from a book or camping around a fire attentively listening to our elders.  Storytelling has become much more immersive than that.  The plot of a story, whether it is “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” or “The BFG”, is adaptable no matter what country you’re in, it’s underlining message is universally understood.  It’s the way in which we provide that story or underlining message that has become fluid.


In my above Twessay, I included a gif, which depicts Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.[1]  Shakespeare is perceived as one of the greatest (if not thee greatest) story tellers of all time.[2]  He told every kind of story; from tragic to comedy to love, and each of these stories are perennial.  His characters are complex, sometimes tortured but relatable.  He created expressions in the English language that are still used today, including “be all and the end all” and “All that glitters is not gold”.[3]  That is why Shakespeare is still so important today, his tragedies and love stories are transferable through any medium.  Take for instance my use of the gif that portrays Romeo.  Gif stands for “Graphics Interchange Format[4] and it has quickly become one of the most popular, intricate ways of telling a story in a very limited amount of time, as it supports a looping animation.  Gif’s are seen as a form of visual storytelling; a moving image that’s attractive to the eye.  Gifs are different from video as with a video you have to press play, gifs move on their own accord and are generally silent.  They are also easily shared through the most popular social media forums, with websites such as Imgur [5]experiencing a huge flow of gifs on a daily basis.

I think Ian and I are essentially reiterating each other’s points here when he says, “Platforms….are constantly expanding”.

I think the use of “modus operandi” here too is both clever and pertinent as the meaning describes a way of operating, or creative ways of operating.  It’s the creativity and use of skills that contribute to the development, expansion and evolution of storytelling.

I feel that storytelling as a whole, is only going to become more interactive.  Just recently I saw an advert for what is essentially a virtual reality TV[6], where you can experience surround vision as well as sound and depth perception.  Perhaps this is the new road for films and TV; investigating how to include more than just the viewer’s sense of vision and hearing.  Story telling as a high tech multisensory experience.







If Childhood Heroes Existed In The Digital Age


Studying Digital Humanities has thankfully forced us to open our minds a lot more and think of how we do things in the digital age, surrounded by technology that is ever growing and evolving.  We analyse how we read and learn in the digital age and how using digital tools is advantageous to our education and achieving our goals.  On the flip side it’s also made me slightly nostalgic for when I was younger, thinking back to a time when I wasn’t reliant on my laptop, smartphone and iPod or Facebook, which wasn’t that long ago.  Having all older brothers and being the only girl in the family, the only company I had was myself and my dolls (unless I wanted to play football and toy soldiers with the boys).

Back then, mostly due to desperation, I used to fantasise about my toy dolls becoming real girls with every-day girl problems and how they might cope living in the same world as me.  Bear in mind, my toy dolls were Disney princesses with beautiful clothes, leading simple lives drinking invisible tea in my makeshift doll house.  But let’s imagine now that they could be real.  They could be modern day teenagers with laptops, iPhones and social media accounts.  According to, 95% of teens use Facebook, with accounts on Instagram and Twitter growing more and more.  So what type of social media accounts might my dolls have?

Snow White would definitely have an Instagram account, selfie after selfie of her rose cheeked face, which may also include a selfie of her “asleep” with the hashtags “#asleep #longday #needakiss #anappleaday”.

Cinderella, the girl with the strict parents, might spend most of her free time on Tinder trying to find her mysterious man of the midnight hour, earning her the nickname “Tinderella”.  Hopefully she finds him and he happens to be so rich that she won’t have to carry out any more chores for the rest of her life.

Elsa.  I never had an Elsa doll, but after watching Frozen I can imagine her having a Tumblr blog, posting really long and detailed entries documenting her moods and feelings.  She’s clearly someone who suffers from anxiety and depression and finds it hard to confide in other people, so she’d turn to the internet for comfort.

I also branched out a little on this and asked some friends of mine their opinions on what their favourite characters might be like if they had internet access…

It was suggested that;

“Wyle E. Coyote would probably buy his ACME stuff from Amazon on the cheap and call out roadrunner on YouTube.”

 “Hercules would be constantly posting pictures of himself at the gym with a protein shake #gains”

 “Courage the cowardly dog would become a complete recluse and use FB as his only social interaction, and get his food delivered to his door by”

 “Goldilocks would have a food blog and be branching into a food channel on”

 However entertaining it is to believe our childhood heroes could exist and have modern social lives, I think for me it’s probably better that I hold on to the mysteriousness that surrounds them and not let the trials and tribulations of social media accounts get in between us.  There is no doubt that the World Wide Web rules the roost in most homes nowadays which is why I think it’s good to take a break and immerse ourselves in old movies and animations from our childhood to reboot our imaginations and the world of storytelling and literature.