Assignment One ; Context

  • Why is it important for media practitioners to develop software literacies?


We’re currently living in a digital age, and as media practitioners, almost everything we lay our hands on has some fundamental design in software. Whether that is the firmware behind what runs our camera, or the chip that tells the motors in a gimbal what to do. Right down to our phone and the uploading button on Instagram – it is all designed with some form of software (Khoo, et, al 2017).


As we dive deeper and begin to understand that we’re surrounded by software, it becomes clear that we need to develop our own software literacies and intuition to work with these elements. This is further reinforced by Manovich (2008, p. 8) in where he says that we “need to account for the role of software and its effects in whatever subjects they investigate”.


Software is designed to help people, so if we develop the necessary skills in driving that software, we can create shortcuts, and learn how to speed up workflow & professionalism. As a media practitioner, I can’t afford to message a client asking them how to upload a video on their Instagram or say to a model on a photoshoot “hey, you don’t happen to know how to change the aperture on this camera?”. Understanding at the very least the foundational behind the software design of the tools of your trade is of the utmost importance to us in our field.


  • What is your understanding of the concept of ‘affordances?


Affordances definitely come off as a somewhat simple concept, but the way they’re written about is very convoluted and difficult to grasp. As I understand it, affordances relate to what something has to offer to the user. This could stretch from what a road offers to a driver, or a door offers to someone entering a building.


The confusion comes when you analyse the affordances that we perceive to be real, and what affordances are genuinely real. Don Norman (1999), separates these two into the terms;


  • Affordances

What something offers to the user.


  • Perceived Affordances

What designers want us to see the affordance as.


Affordances could be the menu button on your camera, the swivel knob to select shooting modes, the viewfinder screen could afford touching, regardless of whether it is a touchscreen. But a perceived affordance would be if that screen had a sticker saying “touch screen” or on the screen, it says to press the “menu” button to go to the menu.


It seems to me from my understanding of Don Norman’s POET & DOET (1998) that perceived affordances relate to the psychology behind why and how we want to interact with a particular affordance.


  • How would you define Instagram?


Instagram is a social media platform, revolving around photographic and audio-visual content. The platform interestingly offers a way to communicate and share media between users, but also offers as a recollection of cultural and historical points of a user.


We generally use Instagram to see what someone is up to, what a business is serving or offering to us, and for general entertainment. But rather than say, broadcast television which is similar (audio-visual, advertisement, entertainment) but the network curates the content, we have the freedom to seek out exactly what we want as well as the freedom of posting our own content. This platform also documents media allowing for diving backward into someone’s timeline to see old content.


  • How would you define online video in this context?


Online video has a different style compared to traditional video formats. The internet is this huge melting pot of media and culture, and with the freedom to click NEXT whenever we’re bored, it’s important to get the message across fast & effectively. Online video definitely has a focus short, visually appealing, compelling media to keep the audience locked into the content.


Originally Instagram videos could only be 15 seconds long, a few years later they could be 60 seconds long and now we have IGTV. YouTube used to have a 10-minute limit as well. I think these limitations reflected the way that we consumed online media, but could also be relevant to internet bandwidth and speeds.


Things have changed in the last few years for online video and allow for longer format on the internet now as people steer away from traditional media like television to stare at their phones. So we’re seeing a longer form, more storytelling in the way we see videos now. But short videos still exist in the form of 7-second Vines or quick Tik-Tok videos.




Berry, T. B 2018, ‘Situating Videoblogging’, Institute of Network Cultures, viewed 5 August 2020, pp. 9–22.

Khoo, E, Hight, C, Torrens, R & Cowie, B 2017, ‘Introduction: Software and Other Literacies’ Software Literacy: Education and Beyond, Springer, Singapore, pp. 1-12.

Leaver, T, Highfield T & Abidin, C 2020, Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures, Digital Media and Society, United Kingdom, pp. 1-38.

Manovich, L 2008, Software Takes Command, Viewed on 5 August 2020, <>.

Norman, D 1998, The Design of Everyday Things, book, New York, pp. 1-13, 81-87.

Norman, D 1999, ‘Affordance, conventions and design (Part 2)’Nielsen Norman Group, viewed 5 August 2020, <> .

Scarlett, A, Zeilinger, M 2019, ‘Introduction’, Rethinking Affordances, Media Thinking Journal, UK, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1–49.


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