Tag Archives: Perth

I am going to miss this.

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Well, not this exactly. This is not a good example of a Perth beach. It’s a good example of what happens when the weather has been terrible for a long time and the sand is still covered in winter seaweed, but not a good example of what Perth’s beaches are really like. Soon the beaches will be pristine, covered in fine white sand, beach towels, and tanned bodies, but no seaweed.

Today is the first warm day in forever. It hit 28.2C in the city, after hovering around 20-22ish for what seems like the last five months. We didn’t have a particularly cold winter this year, but the drizzle and clouds and generally miserable, shitty weather has been hanging around far beyond its welcome. Today has been nice, though.

I went down to Port Beach (my favourite Perth beach, even though there are others closer to home) for a quick swim and sun bathe (bake. Australians don’t bathe in the sun, they bake in it. I was wearing lots of sunscreen!) and totally forgot that it’s school holidays right now, so there were a thousand screaming children everywhere and a group of boys kicked their footy at me (probably not at me, but it ended up on my towel) and then their mum told them off for tackling each other. On the sand. The soft sand on the beach. The kids weren’t allowed to tackle each other on the soft sand on the beach. What is wrong with people today?

It probably wasn’t quite warm enough to be swimming, but I had to make the most of the nice weather, because oh my gosh, you guys, I’m leaving Australia on December 4th for a whole year.

Whuuuuut?

I leave Perth even earlier – late November some time (that part of the trip isn’t booked yet). I will get exactly 3 days, 11 hours, and 55 minutes of Australian summer this coming season, and it will be mostly spent in Brisbane, where summer is rainy and humid and generally unpleasant.

So, I must make the most of the nice weather while it lasts – which it isn’t going to, by the way. We’re back down to temperatures in the early 20s, complete with rain and clouds and bullshit, from tomorrow.

But, yeh. This is happening. Shit = real. I’m going to go live in New York for a year. How about that? I’m going to post more about the leaving/visa/travel process once I have time to do so. Right now I’m frantically thesising because I have an official date on which I will be leaving the country and no longer wish to be thesising by that time.

But hey, New York -based folks doing amazing things with culture and social life and technology, please give me a job.

Things and what not.

Perth, we need to talk about this bonkers weather situation.

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Like many people who live here, I’ve grown to accept the fact that my city isn’t exactly the most exciting place on earth, because it has other things going for it. Like, for instance, the fact that the weather is pretty gosh darn perfect 90% of the time. Our summers are hot and long, our winters relatively mild.

So what, in the name of all things good and decent is this 1.4-degrees-at-7.30-am bullshit?

It is beyond freezing here this morning. Obviously I don’t mean that literally, because there are places, I’m sure, where 1.4 degrees is relatively pleasant, but in a city where the temperature rarely dips below zero, this is pretty much hell. If hell was refrigerated, of course.

We are not prepared for cold weather here. I haven’t lived in most houses in Perth, but I think I can safely say that central heating is exceedingly uncommon (and even if we did have it, electricity prices are too high to justify using it). Clothing isn’t really made for the cold. Take, for instance, right now: I am wearing a pair of tights under a pair of flanellette pyjama pants on the bottom half, and a tank top, tshirt, long sleeved tshirt, and hoody on the top. Plus bed socks and uggboots. And a beanie. And fingerless gloves. And I’m cold.

Talking about the weather is a pretty boring thing to do, but the moment the temperature deviates from anything reasonable, the citizens of Perth become amateur meteorologists. We can’t help it. We love talking about how cold/wet/hot/humid this place is.

Add to the shitty cold weather the fact that I am exceptionally cranky today, and you’ve got one pissed off little soldier right here.

I slept for less than two hours last night. I was up until 5am, fuelled by coffee and desperation, working through the finer points of narrative identity and the concept of writing the self into being. I woke up in tears after what was essentially a brief nap, exhausted and in pain (because, who knew? Apparently if a person sits at a computer for 18 hours a day, their back and shoulders start to really frigging hurt).

I checked Twitter and realised it had only been 110 minutes since I last checked it before going to bed. I checked my email and got shitty at the lack of effort that goes into spam comments (I mean, come on, at least try to make your spam comment somehow relate to my post topic) and then got shitty at the fact that of the 33,000 or so spam comments that haven’t made it through WordPress’s filter in the past year, 3 or 4 have made it through in the past week.

Then I made an instant coffee (blech) and promptly spilled it down my arm and all over my phone as I walked back into my room.

Then I sat at my computer to write this post and debated not posting this, or indulging myself and being a sooky sook-face. Which is what I appear to have done. The funny thing is, last night I drafted a rather long-winded post about how I’m currently feeling like the final few weeks of this thesis has made me feel like I’ve gained so much and grown so much as a person. It’s quite strange how the issues I’m writing about in my research are reflected in my own life, completely by accident, and how nutting out the final points and connecting the dots has actually made me feel quite peaceful and content.

That’s a post for another time, though. Today I’m shitty.

Not all grim in little ol’ Perth

I’m in the midst of a frustrating, and very late, night of research. I’m writing my thesis introduction and trying to find supporting sources for a section of my introduction in which I contextualise my research project by discussing why I’m focusing on Perth, Western Australia. The main reason that this is proving so frustrating is, it seems, that Perth hasn’t been of enough interest for many people to write about in academic literature.

No great surprise there.

As I’ve said many, many times before, I like Perth. Even if I’m not in the minority in feeling that, I’m almost certainly in the minority in admitting it. If you ask someone from Perth what they think of Perth, you’re almost certainly met with hesitation. Perth is Australia’s – and possibly the world’s – biggest country town. There are one and a half million of us, and yet we only just seem to be beginning to nail that Big City feeling. And, when I say ‘big city’, I mean like… moderately sized, internationally-overlooked big city.

New York, London, and Paris: Perth is not any of these.

It’s better than lots of places, though. Many people will concede that it’s a nice place to live… if you’ve got kids, or you’re retired. Or you love the beach; Perth does a spectacular beach. (In fact, it does an entire coastline of them.)

cottOh, hai Cott. (I don’t even like Cottesloe Beach, but I’m including it because it’s iconic and people think it’s good. I just think there are too many damn people. And sharks.)

 

beach

This is more my kinda beach, five minutes from my parent’s place. No big deal.

It has, until recently, been a little bit culturally devoid. There’s a big push at the moment to bring the culture to Perth, and it’s awesome. All kinds of events and places and bars and restaurants and goings-on are popping up, and some time in the not-too-distant future, Perth is going to be a pretty damn awesome place to be.

Probably Certainly the best thing to have come out of a recent spate of openings-up in Perth, however, is this:

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Go on. I dare you to try and tell me that a toasted sandwich shop named Toastface Grillah isn’t the best thing you’ve ever heard of. Reasons why Perth is getting awesome: here is one.

Best songs ever: edn. III

When I was in late primary school and my early teens, there was a band from Perth called Ammonia.

I think I must have seen them at an all-ages gig in 1997 or 1998, because I knew all their songs and all the words. They used to get a lot of airtime on Triple J, too. This was my favourite of their songs – ‘You’re Not The Only One Who Feels This Way’.

Extra points in this video for the singer’s classic late 90s jumper.

Ammonia really epitomise the sound that was coming out of Perth in the mid to late 90s. There were so many great bands gigging around town and around the country, and although I was too young at the time to go to many shows, I would go to many underage concerts when I could, and voraciously hunted down the music of bands like Ammonia, Red Jezebel, Jebediah, Eskimo Joe (eeaaarlly Eskimo Joe. If you haven’t heard it, listen to it), and so many others whose names are escaping me right now. Perth indie music in the 1990s was poppy and guitar driven, a really fun sound.

The sound quality on this video is absolutely terrible, but I’ve included it because I was at this show! Right up the front against the barrier. I was 14.

Crazy how much better digital video technology has gotten in the past 14 years!

This was Ammonia’s last ever show in Perth, at the Big Day Out in 1999. I suppose posting this has some significance as the 2013 Perth Big Day Out was held today… but I didn’t go. I think I went to every once from 1999-2009, and then 2011, before retiring. I can’t do BDO anymore. I experienced so many wonderful BDOs when I was young, but these days they’re never fun. The last one I went to I saw so many young guys getting hit and security doing absolutely nothing to help them, and it’s too distressing.

Anyway, ‘You’re Not the Only One’ was the last song that Ammonia ever played to their home crowd, and the entire audience was singing along, and it was very moving. 14 years later, it sticks in my mind as one of my fondest musical memories.

(As a special bonus, below is the clip to another of their big songs, Drugs. Such awesome Perth pop.)

Mapping Perth’s tweets

Following on from my previous post, another fun tool to have a play with is One Million Tweets. Whilst the apps I demonstrated in the previous post mapped Instagram images, this web-based tool plots – you guessed it – Twitter posts in real time:

onemilliontweetworldview

For me, it raises a whole lot of questions about privacy and how much information users really want to be sharing when they’re online – and whether users know how much information they actually are sharing when they post content. I monitor the location data I share with the network; sometimes I’ll turn it on (for example, if I’m at a restaurant and have eaten something fantastic, I might post a photo to Instagram that is geotagged so that anyone searching that restaurant can see it; another way that I use geotags is when uploading holiday photos to Flickr, so that I can keep track of where a particular image was captured), but most of the time it’s off. I’m not even particularly concerned about privacy or security – I just believe that part of being an engaged digital citizen is being aware of the contributions you are actually making.

You can sit there and watch located tweets populated the map on a global scale, or you can manually drill-down to get a closer look:

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Or even a bit closer:

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Or right down to street level:

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The nosey creature in me finds this kind of thing absolutely fascinating, but the sensible human being in me is very cautious of information being geolocated right down to the street number. As I mentioned, it all comes back to what you’re willing to share – keeping in mind that, due to networked identities (i.e. distributing your online practices across a number of platforms and services), you’re often going to post content to one platform, but syndicate it to others.

This certainly isn’t an exercise in fear mongering but it’s worth thinking about.

On the other hand, I really love having the ability to see what people are tweeting about, and where they’re tweeting from. It adds to a rich digital landscape that ultimately makes the city more useful to me. The information we share contributes to a virtual network of information that could be said to lay over the top of our real world; that is, there’s much more to the places we occupy than buildings and services. At our fingertips, we have access to a world of information, from restaurant menus to user reviews and recommendations. This all adds to the effectiveness of the social map of our city that we perpetually refine.

Mapping Perth, socially.

Today I’m working on some cool stuff to do with social mapping and geographic folksonomies.

Instamap Perth

Whuuuuut, you say?

To put it simply, when you upload content to the Internet – be it a tweet, a Facebook status, a photograph on Instagram, or any number of other ways of sharing content – you’re doing more than just sharing the information that you put out there. You’re also feeding other important information to ‘the machine’, as it were, about such things are your location, what kind of mobile phone or application you are using, and a whole range of other details – including statistics on who and what you engage with most when you’re online (keeping in mind that you have the option of turning off things like location data sharing).

At the same time, you have the option of adding information to your content. So, if you’re down at Cottesloe for a drink and a swim with some friends, you might like to add tags – such as #cottesloe, #cott, #OBH, #beach, and #summer – to your posts:

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Rather than just simply telling the network your location, this voluntary option to add information to your contributions does a number of things. It adds value to your content, makes it searchable (the tags act like keywords that users can search for) and embeds your content – and you as creator – in a network. For example, if I click on an image tagged #cottesloe, the app (this time it’s Padgram – an Instagram clone for iPad) will bring up the most recent images tagged as #cottesloe.

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Looks fairly straightforward. At this point, your images have become searchable, and they are part of a network. Cottesloe is useful as a tag as it’s very Perth-specific. It’s also a word that anyone from Perth, and indeed many people around the world will recognise, as Cottesloe Beach often ends up on lists of the city‘s and nation’s best beaches (although to a local, that might not be the case!).

Having clicked on an image tagged Cottesloe, I might see other tags, such as #beach.

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As a tag, #beach is less useful on a number of levels. First, there are many beaches around the world, so whilst tagging a photo with the term ‘beach’ certainly places that image in a wider network, it doesn’t necessarily add to the searchability of the image, especially if you are looking for something specific. (A couple of good articles that discuss folksonomy, tagging, and the usefulness of user generated content metadata are available here and here.)

An example of this is seen in clicking through the #beach tag:

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Not only does the #beach tag not return any location-specific search results, but – as you can see here – it doesn’t really return too many images that have anything to do with the beach!

There are various things that you can do to make your content more visible, and some of these are discussed in the articles I’ve linked to above. To bring this post back to my point, however – through this chapter I’m working on, I’m hoping to plot a picture of just a tiny segment of Perth’s online social media practices at this point in time. Social mapping is something that is only as good as the contributions that it includes. If people aren’t sharing data about a particular place, there’s a good chance that it’s going unnoticed by the people who occupy that space. Social media – blogs, social recommendation services, and apps like Instagram – are filling a void between physical space and virtual space, though, by injecting a dose of meaning into otherwise useful, but really rather meaningless, information.

At this stage, time really dictates how much I can explore Perth’s social map, but it’s something that I would really like to explore in the future, in the form of a project that pulls information in from across the Internet to generate not only a map of practices, experiences, and services – all bound together by user narratives – but a map that tells us something about the people of Perth and the way that they share content and information.

Well then.

It’s a little bit hot in Perth at the moment.

We’ve got 5 days in a row forecast to be over 40 degrees celsius. That’s pretty stinking hot.

I feel like I’m in an advertisement, all beads of sweat and ice-cold cans of (diet) cola being rubbed over perspiring brows… only far less glamourous. I’m sweating like a pig. Only pigs don’t sweat, apparently. I’m sweating like someone who finds this heat uncomfortable but knows she has no right to complain because she spends half the year wishing for summer.

My days are going to be spent doing this:

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And I’ve set up my computer in the only room in my house with a decent aircon system, because it’s just too hot to work anywhere else. I’ll possibly live in this room for the next week. There’s plenty of couch space for sleeping.

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The idea of doing anything in this heat is just a little bit depressing, really. I might go make myself an espresso martini. That’s an acceptable study beverage, right?