A Picture & it’s Thousand Words

* please note trigger warnings in the tags for this article 

Ever wondered why some ad’s are more successful then others? Why some ad’s just stick in your head or some spark controversy because of it’s image? Well you’re in luck because there’s a whole area of study called semiotics that is dedicated towards signs and analysing the meaning they create. A lot of times what we initially see in an ad (known as the denotations or signifiers) are taken in by an individual and given context and meaning based on said individuals experiences, ideologies, beliefs etc. (known as connotations).

It is these connotations that decide the success of an ad, because a lot of time we do this subconsciously. No one looks at an ad or image and goes ‘hmmm i wonder what this ad says to me’ it’s almost always done on instinct. The problem with this then is that images will mean different things to different people because everyone has a different set of ideologies, beliefs, experiences that work to generate connotations. But before i ramble on further, let me show you an image to illustrate my point.


This was an ad put out by the Salvation Army right after a picture of “the dress” went viral on the internet having people all over debating if said dress was white and gold or blue and black. This ad that came about after it was a massive success in terms of promoting issues surrounding domestic violence.

The connotations that came from seeing this ad was very strong. For weeks people saw everyone debating over the dress being blue and black or white and gold and how some people just couldn’t see how anyone else would think that dress was any other colour then the one they saw. This was the connotation they get from the ad, that sometimes it’s so hard to see when someone is a victim of domestic abuse because people don’t see the ‘black and blue’ despite someone trying to convince them otherwise. This ad probably resonated strongly with anyone who was aware of the viral dress picture.

However, imagine showing this to someone unaware of the initial viral picture. To them while they get the same denotations, which is ‘why is it so hard to see black and blue’, their connotation of it is probably along the lines of bruises can be hidden easily so we are not aware of domestic abuse victims.

This idea of denotation and connotation shape a lot of the ads we see around us, because ads more often then not want to sell us products or ideas and the connotation we get from these ads must be one that will get us to buy into that idea or product. So maybe think twice when you look at image and buy into what it’s trying to get you to believe.


Turnbull, S. 2016. Lecture by Sue Turnbull at The University of Wollongong. (Accessed 16 March 2016).

Domestic Violence campaign screenshot taken from Salvation Army South Africa (Accessed 2 April 2016)


I Open at the Close

First to everyone who got that Harry Potter reference, 20 points to whichever house you’re in! However, this is not an article talking about possible meta in Harry Potter, it is however about another symbol of our generation iPhones and Androids.

The reason why iOS users are so keen to keep getting Apple products, is because the system was designed so this would happen. The iOS runs as a closed system which means that the only ones that can develop or modify anything is Apple themselves, which is why you can’t access things like iCloud on any android devices. Android on the other hand has a open system which allows anyone to modify it’s software, which is how you get things like google maps on your iPhone.

The ideology behind Apple’s platform is to have complete control over the platform, content and user as opposed to the android’s that has no control over the platform, content and user.

Take a listen to the soundcloud for more explanation on this.



Click if you agree with the terms & conditions

Now, one thing we’ve all probably done is click accept on terms and conditions without even reading said terms and conditions. What most of us don’t know is that while there definitely are some clauses to take note off, more often then not there’s a lot of copyright stuff involved in it that I had no idea existed till my latest bcm112 lecture.

Copyright laws were essentially invented to protect intellectual property and give the owner rights over their content, however like a lot of other things in society, corporations took advantage of this for their personal gain. Unfortunately this overuse of power started with everyone’s favourite happy place Disney (not so happy huh?)

But back to my main point, what i’m getting at is company’s protect their content through agreements such as EULA, DRM and fair use, while consumers don’t have that same protection. For example, did you know social media sites, while they don’t technically ‘own’ your photos, but they still have the authority to use your photos however they wish too as you have signed over distribution rights.


Words: A 21st Century weapon

The internet brought about many wondrous things following it’s creation. One of those things was the ability to sit behind a screen and anonymously post things onto the world wide web. Now in some situations this might have good outcomes but like any other potential good development of technology, people will find a way to misuse it.

Cyberbullying has managed to do one thing any other form of bullying probably didn’t have the capacity to do as cyber bullying could affect people in the safest of places; their very own home. Take a look at almost any highly viewed youtube video and you’re bound to see some horrific, mean and unwarranted comments. Cyber bullying doesn’t just stop at that though, things such as revenge porn, where people post nudes of their exes online and hashtags like the #dontjudgechallenge which stereotyped certain features as ugly are all part of the online platform. This causes a lot of unsettling and negative thoughts about the usage of social media and the internet.

However, a lot steps have been taken to ensure a safer platform within social media sites. Laws have been enacted to ensure people can be held liable for what they say online. While this doesn’t encompass anonymously posted comments it does provide some form of safeguard for victims. This website gives a simplified text of the types of material that can be held criminally liable.

Another effort that has been taken to reduce anxiety on this issue is just to educate the public into being better human beings on the internet. BBC Radio 1 got together with some of the british Youtubers (who have probably seen a lot of cyberbullying directed towards them especially when their constantly uploading content onto the internet) to bring about the #nicerinternet campaign which raises awareness on cyberbullying and what we could do to reduce it.

All in all, the internet and social media unlike any other platform within the media industry is very hard to control. The best we can do is educate the public and take legal steps to ensure the safety of it’s users.


Cyber Bullying | Bully Zero Australia Foundation. Bzaf.org.au. N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

Lawstuff Australia – Know Your Rights. Lawstuff.org.au. N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

The Message in the Medium

“The Medium is the Message”

-Marshall McLuhan

If you are a media student, there is no way you have not come across this quote. More often then not, when the McLuhan quote is explained I lose track of the thought process seconds into the explanation. Here’s a little clip of how my brain processes the information.

However, after many youtube videos and a handful of articles later, I realised McLuhan really hit the nail on the head with this one.

Before when the primary source of news was the papers, all we read was the article in that one newspaper. Newspapers only gave chance to the literate to consume news, however with the rise of television that changed. Now with the internet, not only do we have multiple sources to choose from, we’re also allowed to click on hyperlinks that lead us to more information. This change from analog to digital, freed it’s content from specific channels that resulted in less passive consumers and more active participants.

If you noticed, the medium itself is delivering a message. A message about how our society is changing and how it functions. Sometimes even if all you hear at first is words that make no sense, dig a little deeper and it becomes a profound conclusion (only sometimes though, other times it’s still just words that make no sense).

The Why’s & How’s of being here

From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to study abroad, I was always ready for a new adventure and new experience. I think it was that longing that eventually led me to making the choices that led me to doing my degree in a completely different country, so many miles away from home. I’m quite glad to say that being in Wollongong has definitely been an experience.

As for my communications and media degree, I think for a long time I never actually saw this as an option. I definitely went through a lot of different career choices growing up. As a kid I always wanted to perform on stage. Then at some point I decided I wanted to be a paediatrician because I liked children  and wanted to help them but I then realised helping them also meant that sometimes I’d have to deal with not being able to save them and that was a big no. In my pre-teen years I started watching the tv show Bones and thought maybe a forensic scientist was my calling. Unfortunately I realised I did not want to memorise the names of all 206 bones in the human body so that dream was crushed quite quickly.

Finally, one day, my mum asked if I had ever considered journalism. And for some reason it just made sense to me. I realised the common denominator with all my previous career choices was that I just wanted to help people and maybe make their lives just a bit more better. Journalism to me, was a great way to do that because I loved to write and seeing as the scope of journalism was so wide, there were many different things I could write about and many groups and issues and demographics I could potentially help by doing this.

Which then led me to here. After 12 years of school, 3 gruelling government exams and countless visits to international education fairs I ended up in the University of Wollongong doing a degree in communications and media with a journalism major.  ✨

Move over Hollywood

Growing up in a non western country I was still exposed to a lot of western/Hollywood media production. I grew up watching shows like Tom and Jerry, That’s So Raven and Lizzie Mcguire. Western media was everywhere and for awhile that was the most prominent culture I was aware of as it was the most dominant. Then in high school I had friends telling me about this Korean drama called ‘Boys over Flowers’. A large majority of the students in my high school could mimic the dance moves from the music video Sorry, Sorry which was a popular song by a Korean boy band called SuperJunior. It was at this point where the Korean media industry was gaining much more popularity internationally.

News media and trade magazines have recognized the rise of Korean popular culture in Asia by dubbing it the ‘Korean wave’ Hallyu or Hanryu in Korean (Shim 2006). Also supporting the South Korean film industry has been active government controls against copying and piracy, which have allowed the film industry to produce many films and assure their overall profitability given very strong DVD and aftermarket sales (Ryoo 2009). Korean drama, movies and music became such a big hit in Asia, from China to Taiwan, Japan, Phillipines, Malaysia and many more. Soon the Korean waved moved to the United States when a Korean all-girl group girls generation was brought to perform on the David Lettermen show.

This Korean wave brought around a whole different set of cultural values and practices into the international arena. The style and tune was very different to the kind of media Hollywood produces especially when it comes to their music industry. You can watch this video that shows western youtubers reaction and thoughts on K-pop music videos. 

It’s not just in style that things differ in, the way these two industry’s run are different as well. While Hollywood productions in music have a more individualistic approach, K-pop has a more universal similar style and tone for all it’s artists, record labels choose and mould people they think are fit to be Korean pop stars. Check out this article by Christine Choi that describes the difference between Hollywood and K-pop.

The Korean wave is a huge indication of how cultural flows are transformed in the global arena (Ryoo 2009). For awhile Hollywood had a bigger control over films that were exported internationally. face1The most prominent culture in other countries was Western culture. Now we can see a much more diverse sense of cultural hybridity. Transnational popular culture engenders a creative form of hybridization working towards re-imagining regional identities through the reciprocal cultural exchanges in the global/local context (Ryoo 2009).  Essentially, the entertainment industry is a great way to establish local culture but still have elements that appeal to a wider more international audience. This in turn produces a better avenue for the intertwine of culture.

It’s not only Korean media that is gaining more attention, other industries such as Bollywood and Nollywood have been emerging and generating a fair amount of international audience. It would be great if more countries develop their entertainment industry to reach an international platform especially as our world in getting more interwoven and it would help a great deal in increasing cultural flows.


Ryoo, W. (2009). Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave. Asian Journal of Communication19(2), 137-151.

Shim, D, 2006, Hybridity and the rise of korean pop culture in Asia, Sage publications, viewed 4 September 2015 <http://www2.fiu.edu/~surisc/Hybridity%20and%20the%20rise%20of%20Korean%20popular%20culture%20in%20Asia.pdf&gt;

Yecies, B, Parleying Culture against Trade: Hollywood’s Affairs with Korea’s Screen Quotas, Korea Observer, 38(1), Spring 2007, 1-32. Published by the Institute of Korean Studies, Seoul.