Student Reflection – In the Eyes of Another (2.2)

By Sara Martinez

My multimedia researched-argument creation is designed to lead people on a virtual tour through the eyes of someone else. In doing so, the audience can choose one of three people on the main page to walk them through their life. When the audience chooses a person, the website takes them directly to their biography where a shorthand version of their life is given, including what’s important and memorable to them. Within each person’s biography, certain words are highlighted so that if the viewer wishes, he/she can click on them and be taken to a separate page where the circumstance or memory is described more in depth. For instance, in Amaan Ali’s profile she talks about how the Somali Civil War was an influential part of her life. The reader then has the option to click on “Somali Civil War” within the text, where afterwards a picture slideshow pops up illustrating the severity of the situation. This element enables the viewer to gain both an informational and emotional grasp of the other person’s life.

By reading the each person’s short biography, the viewer learns about their individual lives. By viewing footage and/or pictures of what they are describing, the viewer is transported to their world, therefore seeing life “through the eyes of another.” This is both an ethical and emotional appeal. As the audience is led into another’s life and exposed to one’s personal experiences, trust is established between the viewer and the person, creating the ethical appeal. The emotional appeal is present throughout the entirety of the website, since someone is divulging personal information about themselves while leading the viewer on a virtual tour of their life. By presenting footage and pictures of things they have seen in their lives, the viewer feels as if they are present, and can therefore sympathize with the person.

At the end of each person’s biography, they welcome the viewer into their home. Again this is an ethical appeal, establishing trust between the person and the audience. When the viewer enters the person’s virtual home they are led into the main living room, where items are laid out just as they are everyday in the person’s home. Certain items are clickable. When the viewer clicks an item, a description of the item’s function according to the user is provided. Although there are similar items in all three households, they interestingly have different purposes and value depending on whose house it is in. The viewer should then interpret that how people view the same item (especially forms of media) is dependent on their culture and life experiences. Media experience is shaped by culture.

As Americans living in a hypermediated world, we expect almost everything to be interactive and multifunctional. But only when we look at the same items through the eyes of another can we understand that things are still only functional and immediate. Not everything has more than one purpose, and some things are just meant to be viewed directly by the viewer, and not shared with the world.

I complete the learning process by including a link labeled “connection” at the bottom of each person’s home page. After learning the purpose that each medium serves for a certain individual, the “connection” page is a final summary that ties together all the information from my website. If the viewer failed to make the connection already, then here is where the connection between culture and media is provided. On this page I conclude that one’s life experiences and culture directly influence the way they view media—the principle argument that I hope to disclose through the viewer’s navigation of my website.

My inspiration for this style of website came from my appreciation of different cultures. I’ve traveled and seen how different cultures use different forms of media first-hand. I’ve stayed with families who have no televisions or phones, but rarely have I seriously thought about how this circumstance molds their lifestyle, values and interpretation of life. When asked to create a multimedia research project, I immediately knew I wanted to focus on the relationship between culture and media.

Reading text by Bolter and Grusin on how social factors affect mediation and remediation also influenced my decision. I felt I had a good understanding of how people from different societies and cultures could interpret media differently, but this was only an understanding of how people interpreted what was presented through media, not how they viewed the physical medium on which it was presented. Accordingly, when beginning my research I found it challenging to find the answers to what I was searching for because everything returned how people interpreted presented media.

I chose this topic because I found it personally interesting, but also because I couldn’t find extensive work done on it. In the end it took researching each individual country, those people’s lifestyles, and their unique experiences to form a compelling argument for how one’s culture affects how they view forms of media, and then, how this experience influences their lives.