Is Anthropomorphism ‘Dangerous’?

Anthropomorphism is “considered as the attribution of human characteristics and the qualities to non-human beings, objects, or natural phenomena” (Atkinson 2013). Anthropomorphism is often used on animals, particularly those in children’s films, books and cartoons. However is it safe that we show children human qualities in animals? Animals such as bears or lions that we portray as friendly, when there true nature is often the opposite and they as seen as dangerous.


I’ve always remembered children’s films with animals that have human characteristics; the most common being that they can talk, and I’ve never wondered why we give animals human qualities before. According to Ann Casano, the main reason to give human qualities is that “it make’s the unfamiliar appear more familiar to a reader or spectator”. This is a viable reason, as once we give animal characters human characteristics; the audience is then able to connect with the character.

Scientists have started to warn that anthropomorphism can be dangerous.

“An unconscious belief that bears, horses and dolphins possess human desires and thoughts wrapped up in odd costumes can be detrimental for children, some psychologists have argued” (Milman 2016).

In fact, when psychologist Patricia Ganea conducted an experiment on children ages three to five years in which children were given information about animals in two different ways. First factual information about animals and then in an anthropomorphised fantasy way. Ganea found that the children “were likely to attribute human characteristics to other animals and were less likely to retain factual information about them when told they lived lives as furry humans” (Milman 2016).

The effect of anthropomorphism is that we start to believe and an inaccurate understanding of the natural world and what happens in it. This could be dangerous because it alters the way we might interact with certain animals, particularly wild animals. Certain behaviours such as adopting a wild animal as a pet can be harmful for both the animal and the owners. This stems from the notion that wild animals do not belong in captivity or away from their natural habitat as they changes the way they behave.

Movies such as Finding Nemo (2003) see a shark becoming a vegetarian. Or Yogi bear as a friendly intelligent and not dangerous bear. We give these animals behaviours we want to portray to our children. Simba from The Lion King (1994) was brave and went on a journey of self-actualisation. Many are starting to believe that is it dangerous.


I personally don’t believe that giving animals human characteristics is dangerous, but I do however believe there is a time and a place for it. If in children’s animations we choose to portray anthropomorphised animals, we need to explain to our children that this is not how animals actually behave, that you couldn’t just walk up to a bear in their natural habitat and expect a hug. But if our children understand the truth, watching a film about a certain clown fish finding its way home isn’t dangerous for kids, and can teach them certain lessons. Like most of the media that we watch, we need to understand that we are seeing what someone wants us to see, there’s usually a whole other viewpoint.

Talk soon,
Tash xx


Atkinson, N, ‘The Use of Anthropomorphism in the Animation of Animals: What all animators should know’, NCCA, viewed 26 March 2016 <;. 

Other references are hyperlinked.


Does the ‘Quantified Self’ determine your Self Worth?

The ‘quantified self’ movement is a new phenomenon that “aims to measure all aspects of our daily lives with the help of technology. Wearable devices such as activity trackers, along with apps that let us log our every step, snack and snooze could bring us a better understanding of ourselves, our nature, and may even benefit our health” (Live Science).

Co-founder of Quantified-Self, Gary Wolf, believes that the quantified self is about changing your sense of self, be that through self-improvement, self-discovery, self-awareness or self-knowledge. It is believed that by using numbers we can achieve these self-goals.

Numbers have always been used to calculate aspects of our lives, and can be useful when we want to reflect, learn, remember or improve ones self (Wolf 2010). However is there a limit on what parts of our lives we should be tracking and defining by numbers? Are the possible risks worth the overall objective… a healthier lifestyle?

While researching the quantified self, I realised that the quantified self aims to be a positive force in our lives, however the social media craze hinders this positivity. For this blog, I’ve decided to focus on social media and the way we value ourselves based on the character we decide to share to the world. This includes the number of followers, likes and comments we receive on posts that have an impact on how we as individuals see and value ourselves.


Firstly, I strongly believe that no one should value himself, herself or others based on the numbers we find on social media, particularly when the image we sell on social media is often false and not real. Many believe that “its better to sell perception versus reality” (Llopis 2013). However even though many knew that what they saw wasn’t ‘real’ they still craved for it, wanted to have that Insta famous moment where their pictures get enough likes for self-validation. Late last year, Essena O’Neill, an 18 year old who was Insta famous, quit Instagram because social media ‘is not real life’. She got herself in the habit of judging herself on the amount of likes she received, she “obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it… this was when I [she] was so hungry for social media validation” (Hunt 2015). She then went back to pictures when thousands of likes and changed captions to the actual process that went behind the picture, like tagging hundreds of pictures to look hot for Instagram.

Being sucked into the social media craze can be dangerous, particularly if you start to determine your self worth by the amount of likes you receive. When did the world start to shift into the modern age where something as small as the number of likes a picture gets make one think “I’m not enough” or “why cant I be like that person?”

I would like to end with the amount of likes, followers or friends you have on any social media site DOES NOT define your worth or your influence on the real world. A number is just that, a number, it won’t define you unless you let it!

Talk soon,
Tash x



IEEE Computer Society 2013, Big data and the dangers of over-quantifying oneself, video, YouTube, 31 May, viewed 23 March 2016, <;.

Jordan, M & Pfarr, N 2014, ‘Forget the Quantified Self. We Need to Build the Quantified Us,’ Wired, 4 April, viewed 25 March 2016, <;.

Llopis, G 2013, ‘7 Ways To Value Yourself Beyond Social Media,’ Forbes, 11 March, viewed 24 March 2016, <;.

Quantified Self 2012, Gary Wolf talks about Quantified Self, video, YouTube, 4 December, viewed 23 March 2016, <;.

Ted 2010, Gary Wolf: The Quantified Self, video, YouTube, 27 September, viewed 23 March 2016, <;.

The Quantified Self, Live Science, viewed 23 March 2016, <;.

Your Side of Music

In the last blog I spoke of how the industry, artists and audiences suffer due to music piracy. Also in the first blog I mentioned that music piracy became its own subculture, so this blog post is about talking to several interviewees and their experiences with music piracy as a subculture; why they did? Who with? Where?

I decided to interview 6 people varying from ages 18-50 years old in hopes of achieving a broader range of answer to music piracy (3 were under 30 and the other 3 over). Some of the questions that were asked included standard questions such as:

Do they know what music piracy is?

Had they ever illegally downloaded music?

Were they influenced in the way they decided to consume your music?

Once I gathered information on their involvement with music piracy I was able to steer the interview into directions specific to each interviewee. When gathering the results I found, as expected, that everyone knew what music piracy was. However what was surprising was the fact that the first thing that stood out the most was the fact that those over 30 years old had never pirated, compared to those under 30 were pirating was once such a huge part of their child hood.

The subcultures were clear, adults over 30 saw music as something that should be shared, just like our generation, however they usually shared their music through vinyls and record players, and as music grew, records turned to CD’s. The one thing that stuck was that these people bought their music.

Interviewee #3 is a 51-year male who grew up “searching through records discovering new types of music” and when asked on his views of piracy, he believed that “music should be shared between people” – but just as he had done and continues to do – “music should be paid for and not illegally downloaded.”


21-year old interviewee #2 sees it differently. “Prices for music have risen drastically, and as a teen I couldn’t just buy any album that I wanted. Piracy wasn’t seen as a big deal and no one quite knew they extent of what we were doing. It was like lunch time fun, we would all gather and Bluetooth each other all the newest tunes, and it was a way to connect to each other and to music, which is what music is about – sharing.”

Both interviewees agree that the music culture brings people together in one place, whether that is listening to a record or blue toothing each other the newest song. But piracy seems to stand differently between the ages; which ties in with that fact that we were raised differently and that we are the technological generation and have not known any other way.

Overall music is one of the biggest forms of spatial media purely on the way it is shared between multitudes of platforms. However its not just shared online and it started as something far more physical with live shows, slowly turning to records and CDs and then finally hitting the web. But one thing sticks, music is spatial and meant to be shared.

The Ugly Side of Music

To me, piracy of music had been an easy searching for a song and then download it. However I never thought of who was at stake by music piracy, both in regards to the industry, artists and us –the audiences. As mentioned in the previous blog, piracy is long debated, and this blog will look into how the industry, artists and audiences have debated the consequences of music piracy.

The industry can be described as the behind the scene guys, the people that we think are there but we aren’t too sure. These people include “songwriters, audio engineers, computer technicians, talent scouts and marketing specialists, producers, publishers and countless other” (RIAA 2015). The amount of money actually lost is substantial. According to the study The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy (Siwek 2007) the costs that the U.S. economy loses is:

  • $12.5 billion in total output annually (output includes revenue and related measures of economic performance)
  • The economy loses 71,060 jobs
    • 860 of those jobs would have been added in sound recording
    • 44,200 would have been added in other U.S. industries
  • Workers lose $2.7 billion in earnings annually
  • S. federal, state and local governments lose a minimum of $422 million in tax revenues annually

The artist is the front man, the spokesperson that you believe that may be at stake when you pirate music, but as seen as part of the industry, many more people are affected by music piracy.

Music has always been considered art and is often interpreted differently. Over the last two years the idea that ‘music is art’ has been prevalent. Artists such as Taylor Swift believe “music is art, and art is important and rare…important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free” (Grow 2014). Swift’s position is clear… fans should pay rather than download. However as stated in her letter to Apple iTunes , she believes that music should be bought so new upcoming artists have a chance.

However it seems that it is predominately new artists that are asking for music to be paid for. All quotes taken from the article Artists speak out on music piracy by Terry Karavoulias –

Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters believes “I think it’s a good idea because it’s people trading music. It has nothing to do with industry or finance, it’s just people that want music and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Liam Gallagher (Oasis) “At least they are downloading your music f**king idiot, and they are paying attention to you. Do you know? You should appreciate that. What are you complaining? You have 5 huge houses, so just shut up.”

Lady Gaga “”You know how much you can earn off touring, right? Big artists can make anywhere from $50 million for one cycle of two years’ touring. Giant artists make upwards of $100 million. Make music–then tour. It’s just the way it is today.”

As it stands, artists understand the stake of piracy; many even believe it to be helpful if once you pirate a song you may buy a ticket to a concert or some merchandise.

Audiences need to take care if they plan to pirate music, as the industry is cracking down on those pirating music. Those who have been caught pirating music have been sued for more money than we could ever imagine.

And example is the case study of Joe Tenenbaum who was sued $675,000 for downloading 30 unauthorised songs; making each song worth $22,500 (RT Question More 2012). His lawyers tried to change the outcome but the RIAA fired back and the result was final. Evidence from a 2008 study claimed that the average has most likely downloaded 800 songs, which could mean suing any defendant for up to $120 million.

No one is safe in regards to music piracy. It doesn’t matter what space you chose to consumer your media. But be warned there are consequences. In the next few blogs we look at my interviewees views on piracy and see whether theirs match those of artists and individual? One final question –

Are you at stake?


Grow, K 2014, ‘Taylor Swift: ‘Music Is Art, and Art Should be Paid for’, Rolling Stone, 7 July, viewed October 23 2015, < >.

Karavoulias, T, ‘Artists Speak out on Music Piracy’, Up Venue, viewed 23 October 2015, < >.

Siwek, S 2007, The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy, The Institute for Policy Innovation, viewed 23 October 2015, < >.

The cost of downloading: Supreme Court says $675,000 fine remains for sharing 30 songs 2012, RT Question More, viewed 22 October 2015, < >.

Who Music Theft hurts? 2015, RIAA Representing Music, viewed 22 October 2015, < >.

The Dark Side of Music

Music is media. Over time, it has become spatial media in regards to the different spaces that individual audiences encounter the content. The different forms of spaces in which one encounters music are abundant; firstly, the main way people use and use music – in their homes – or at concerts where we as the audiences join the space of the artists who are sharing their music.

However there is a dark side of music, particularly within the industry, that further illustrates artists’ relationships with their audiences. The issue is commonly known as piracy. As it stands piracy has long been debated. Music piracy is the “large-scale, unauthorised duplication of recorded music with the intent to defraud the copyright holder of his/her royalties; this includes the composers, lyricists and performing artists” (Siegfried 2015).


From its inception, music piracy has been seen as its own subculture (Witt 2015). However it was only a subculture for a certain generation, as many older audiences say buying vinyls as a subculture and regarded piracy with “sceptics and outright hostility” (Witt 2015). It can be noted that piracy is not as prevalent as what it once was for the upcoming generations.

Even looking into my past, as a child with no income, accessing the music I liked included my begging my mum to buy me the newest album, but as you reach the teen years, you discover forums such as FrostWire, LimeWire, Napster, and the other hundreds of sites available. Music piracy raises the questions of ‘”who is at stake?” “Why audiences do it?” “Do they know the implications, or even that its illegal?” – because I as sure didn’t know that – these are the questions that ill be asking interviewees, but more than anything I will be enquiring about the changes through piracy and age, how each different individual feels about piracy and how they consume their music in regards to spatial media.



Siegfried, R.M 2015, ‘Music Piracy’, Freshman Seminar: Computers and Society, viewed 21 October 2015, < >.

What is Online Piracy? 2015, RIAA Representing Music, viewed 22 October 2015, < >.

Wicknick, D 2010, ‘The RIAA Music Downloading Controversy: Both Sides of the Record’, Music Biz Advice, 13 November, viewed 21 October 2015, < >.

Witt, S 2015, ‘Going for a song: the hidden history of music piracy’, The Guardian, 7 June 2015, viewed 20 October 2015, < >.

Power of the camera

There are no publicity or personality rights in Australia, and there is no right to privacy that protects a person’s image. Existing privacy laws are more concerned with storage and management of personal information and are of limited relevance to the present issue” (Art Law 2015)

No right to privacy that protects a person’s image.

 The power of the camera is only growing. Knowing that there are no laws to protect your image seems outrageous. The fact that we need to rely on an individual’s views of ethical photography is worrying. However cameras have existed since the late 1800’s, so why has it suddenly become an issue? Technology; most people, particularly the Gen Y and X are attached to their phones, as you can do pretty much anything on them, even something like taking a picture of stranger in public. A study commissioned by Nokia stated that people check their smartphones up to 150 times per day and cannot leave the phone alone for more than 6 minutes (Spencer 2013).

Although there is no laws set in place for a person’s image, there are acts that can be enforced for certain types of photography. The Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) outlines that it is punishable to photograph someone to provide sexual arousal or gratification if the person is undressed or engaged in a private act in circumstances. The private acts referred to include any acts that are not usually done in public such as bathing, using the toilet or sexual activity. Under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) to be in or near a building with intent to peep or pry upon another person is punishable with imprisonment, and above all, any photography deemed as child pornography is a criminal (Art Law 2015).

This supports Joerg Colberg’s statement along with his two ideas of consequences caused by public or street photography. The first being that

“It might be perfectly legal to photograph someone in a public space, but something being legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical as well”

And the second that 

“The onus is on photographers and not on the public” (Colberg 2013).

Having the onus on the photographer means they will need to educate the public of what exactly they are doing or taking photos so the public can be aware that the photographer is mindful of them and is not meant to cause harm but in reality enrich everyone’s lives.

That is one way that we can ensure the photographs that are being taken meet the unofficial ethical guidelines. Another tactic could be some form of public watchdog that specialises with public photography. Solutions are hard because some may suggest more security cameras in public places, but isn’t that just another form of media that is watching us?

We also need to ask ourselves what we believe is ethical and if someone took a photo with you in the background, would you mind if you were in the background or want to be told? These are the questions have multiple answers that all vary. Your response may change depending on who has taken the picture –someone you know or complete stranger – or what you look like in the picture. Its like the ‘selfie code’ –if you’ve taken a photo with your friend and either of you don’t like it, the other deletes until you can agree on one.

Public space photography doesn’t have a black and white set of guidelines, but a colorful one where many of the guidelines are open to interpretation. What is needed is a set of rules that applies to everyone and not segregating people into different categories but everyone’s under the public and using the same guidelines.

What do you think? Let me know.

Talk soon,
Natasha xx


Arts Law Centre of Australia 2015, Street Photographer’s Rights, Arts Law Centre of Australia, viewed 30 September 2015, <;.

Colberg, J 2013, The Ethics of street photography, Conscientious Extended, 3 April 2015, viewed 1 October 2015, <

Spencer, B 2013, Mobile users can’t leave their phone alone for six minutes and check it 150 times a day, Daily Mail, 11 February, viewed 1 October 2015, <;.

Human vs. Goldfish- the battle of attention!

Isn’t it scary to think that a goldfish actually has a larger attention span than a human? What Untitledhappened? When did we lose the ability to focus on something for more than 8 seconds? By the way, in case you’re wondering the goldfish holds its attention for 9 seconds, sad that a goldfish is one-upping humans.

For this blog we were asked to perform an activity that would test our attention and those of others. I found a game online known as ‘Ancient Writing’. The task is that you are given two rows of ancient symbols and you must pay attention and select from the bottom row what is not in the top row, you have 15 s
econds per round and there may be more than one different symbol.

At the end of the game you are given your results that indicate your accuracy and your response time. I tested this out on myself (aged 20) my brother (aged 22) and my mum (aged 48). I completed the task in my room with no TV; no music around, hoping that silence would work best for me. I got my mum to conduct hers in the TV room where the bachelorette was on in thUntitlede background and my brother did his in his room also in silence. Now taking a look at these results, can you guess who was in silence and who was watching TV? That’s right, my mum only got a 38% accuracy rating, whereas both my bother and I had higher results. What was interesting is that I received the highest accuracy of 95% meaning that my attention is pretty well, but my response time was lower then both my mothers and brothers. I believe this is due to my tendency to want to get things right so I took my time. Once the game was conducted the first time, we each did it again but swapped the place we completed the task, my brother and I were in the TV room, my mum in the silence of another room. What we found was that my brothers and I’s result only dropped slightly, whereas my mums went up to over 70%. Could this mean that as we get older distractions such as televisions take a larger tool than expected?


I originally believed that one of the reasons that our attentions has dropped so much is because we are a generation where our world has revolved so much around technology we have to many options to us focused. This is because we are multi-screeners. Google produced ‘The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behaviour’ where they outlined out facts about the multiscreen generation:

  • We are a nation of multi-screeners where most media time is spent in front of a screen
  • The device we use is driven by our context
  • We are either sequential screening (move between devices) or simultaneous screening (use multiple screens at the same time)
  • TV cannot hold our full attention
  • Portable devices aid our use of multi-screening
  • When we use devices simultaneously, our attention is
  • Smartphones are the backbone of our media interactions (I bet that’s a shock to all you…)

And finally – this one I found funny- especially since multi-screening is my gateway to procrastination…

  • Using multiple screens makes us feel more efficient as we get a sense of accomplishment 

Taking those facts into consideration, do you believe that there’s a connection between multi-screening and our attention downfall? Alyson Gausby, Microsoft Canada’s Consumer Insights Lead had her own assumption on whether being online made a difference to attention; her opinion didn’t make my original thought.

“I would have thought spending more time online or with media in general would heighten one’s ability to filter out distractions. Wrong again, not the case. No matter what environment humans are in (be it the plains of Africa or a crowded street in New York), survival depends on being able to focus on what’s important- generally what’s moving. The skill hasn’t changed, it’s just moved online” (Microsoft 2015).

So as it seems, our attention isn’t hindered purely by our massive screen use – which can be 4.4 hours a day just on leisure activities (Google 2012) – but our actual skill level. It does make sense I guess, since we all believe that we’re great at multitasking. So where do you stand? Does multi-screening make your attention longer or shorter? And most importantly, do you think a goldfish has a larger attention span than you?

Talk soon,
Natasha xx


Consumer Insights Microsoft Canada 2015, Attention Spans, Microsoft Canada, viewed 27 September 2015, < .php/490916/mod_resource/content/1/microsoft-attention-spans-research-report.pdf>.

Google 2012, The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behaviour, Google, viewed 27 September 2015, <;.