Category Archives: Augmented Reality


We are surrounded by other’s stories

Stories told to us through cinema, the written word and recounted by those around us.

From the moment we check our devices –  our Instagram, our Twitter and our countless other news feeds, we are inundated with stories of other’s.

Throughout centuries of storytelling, one thing has remained consistent – our inability to completely experience what the story-teller is truly describing. Yes, we can imagine and emotionally immerse ourselves, but we are never able to truly grasp, in its entirety, the physical experience of those telling a story. There is an ever-present wall between the story-teller and the listener, constantly dividing you from someone else.

Story-tellers who feel the presence of the wall looming over each story they share, are journalists. No matter how wrenching the photo or how precise the writing, journalists are unable to rid the dividing roles of consumer and the other. Consumers of news stories are only afforded abilities to feel for, but never feel with those being represented in a story.

That is, however, until the inception of virtual reality journalism. Virtual reality journalism, still in its infancy in terms of form and usage, combines the experiences of VR with journalistic endeavours to produce immersive simulations of the stories being portrayed. Throughout the piece of research being proposed, it is my aim to investigate the practices of VR in mainstream news and the changes in journalism as a result of interactive story-telling. But first, it is important to understand the functions, origins and innovators of VR journalism and how it is being used at present.



In order to understand virtual reality journalism, one must first understand the function of virtual reality itself. Virtual reality is understood as being ‘near reality’, or as real as possible. The purpose of VR is to emulate the reality of human experience through technology. Reality of human experience encompasses how each of our functioning senses and perceptions work collectively to decode and encode our environment. VR aims to emulate environments through 3-D computer generation in order to stimulate human sensory perception – thus creating a near real experience. The experiences of VR are immersive, interactive and grounded in achieving realism to the highest degree.


Utilising the ability to simulate reality and create near real experiences, the journalism industry has begun using immersive interactive story-telling. Immersive journalism or Virtual Reality Journalism aims to create empathy rather than sympathy for the stories being told. Pioneer in VR journalism, Nonny de la Pena’s mission is to “tell tough, real life stories that create deep empathy for viewers – all through goggles”. VR Journalism has the capability to bridge the gap between consumers of news and the stories being told. Pena is creating interactive and immersive stories so that audiences are able to feel and stand amongst harrowing experiences which we only read about, but not live ourselves. Immersing people within the stories they consume, through VR, has the capability to lessen the construct of ‘us’ and ‘them’ creating less othering and divide.


Project Syria, created by Nonny de la Pena, is an interactive experience of the war in Syrian that aims to go beyond reading about the experiences of other’s. This example of VR journalism is important as it highlights how immersive journalism works and why it is impactful. Project Syria, commissioned by the University of Southern California, used VR to implant audiences into the life as a citizen caught amongst the Syrian conflict. As a person reading about the harrowing events, killings and displaced people, your mind can only imagine so far. However, with VR, all our senses are stimulated which gives us an entirely new insight into the lives of people affected by war.

       Image: Motherboard. (2014). 



For my Digital Artefact, I am going to choose one news story I wish to report on and create an interactive and visual story using the practices involved in creating VR Journalism. As I am limited in the technology used to create VR, I am unable to make my own VR news story. However, I plan on using the principles of VR to create an immersive news story that utilises multiple senses in order to create an experience whilst consuming the news.


Aurasma, an augmented reality application is the program I plan on using to create an interactive news story with the principles of VR journalism. Aurasma uses technology to recognise images and develop them into holographic images. I will use this technology to develop an interactive visual news story for people to use.

Over the weeks leading up to the submission of my DA, I will create an online progress journal (blog) detailing the processes involved in making my own piece of interactive journalism.



The politics and ideologies of data visualisation: A sociological perspective

Cybercultural Research Project: Second Progress Report

Since my first progress account I have renamed my topic, The politics and ideologies of data visualisation: A sociological perspective. The following is an updated outline that will guide the production of a research report or digital artefact.

Introductory Remarks

I will employ data visualisation to mean ‘the visual representation of statistical and other types of numeric and non‑numeric data through the use of static or interactive pictures and graphics.’  For now, I will define cyberculture simply and according to Mirriam Webster. I will also distinguish data from information in order to lay groundwork for the introduction of emergent critical perspectives associated with the politics and ideologies of data visualisation (abbrev. dataviz). For example, the ideological work that data visualisations do introduces dataviz conventions as functioning to produce a sense of ‘objectivity, transparency and facticity.’  In reality, graphics may be value-laden, ambiguous and fictitious (See also: Seeing Data 2016).  The introductory paragraphs will also note broad relevance of the topic, defining the concepts of information saturation (or overload), ‘data explosion’ and data science.

A sociologist in training, I will overview abstracts and biographies of a recent sociological conference to underscore the progress of Sociology in recent years, as these have been significant guides in my research. I will cite Healy and Moody’s view of Sociology as lagging in the use of visual tools.  This research will note the historical association of social work with the development and implementation of national policy circa the welfare state in 1946 to present. The Australian Commonwealth has exercised control over the direction of national social policy since the founding of the Commonwealth Research Bureau in 1944 (Morning Bulletin 1947). The privatization of social services will be raised as a related issue of concern in neoliberal contexts like Australia.

The four arguments introduced in my first progress report will be summarized for my audience and continue to guide topic development.

Research Body

Accordingly, I will exemplify how both past inventions and futuristic thinking have shaped the development of data visualisation technologies and practices. Examples of what science fiction has technologically foreseen will be provided in reference to a presentation by Jeffrey Heer titled A Brief History of Data Visualization.  This source will be coupled with a Milestones Tour to provide an overview of current DV trends and research areas. Augmented reality (AR) will be exemplified, envisioned in 1968 and famously employed in AR animation by Hans Rosling in recent years.

Of what was been culturally foreseen and is of relevance to the topic, I will cite Huff in his ‘prophetic’ reference to GH Wells in How to Lie with Statistics‘Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.’ I will also quote Aldous Huxley’s utopiandystopian Brave New Word (1932), in which ‘liberties and individuality’ have been lost ‘in the name of universal stability’ (Shmoop 2016).  This will be an allusion to the implication of social work with national population and fiscal policy targeting ‘illegitimate‘ children during 20th century Australia.

In the second section of the report’s body I will exemplify how governments and bureaucracies have significant authority in the relationship between the user and the computer, aiming questions of cyberculture at the legitimacy of related structures of command.  The following related research into dataviz forms an amended outline of sources extending on my first progress report and is a work in progress:

A glossary of terms will accompany an introduction to an Australian case study detailed in my first progress report. Entries will underscore the prodigious influence of digitally enabled communication, networked computation and media technologies in proliferating issues of related concern, including population trends and curvessocial entropy (see also: Galtung in 1967), exponential growth and singularity.

This case study will critique a dominant discourse and related DV by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, positing national social policy in contemporary cyberspace arenas.  An alternative DV will provide a statistical estimate of an historically marginalised group. Statistical relativity will be discussed and feature David McCandless’ take on the topic.  This work will be emancipatory and state author biases.


The conclusion will summarise identified limits and affordances of our technology infused realities, including: data inadequacies, the need for increased scepticism of data and new hypotheses.

Let me project you back in time…


During this semester I aim to work on projection throughout MEDA301, DIGC335 and DIGC310. This will work to my advantage, due to many cases I have stumbled across which have already led me down new topics of research in each class that I can bring together. In DIGC310 I am creating a board game that uses projection to add to the elements of the game that I will be creating. Motion gesture as well as augmented reality is also two concepts that I have been researching in order to incorporate them into the board game (or at least attempt).

Therefore, during this subject I will be exploring the limitations of projecting in different environments, on different objects, playing with what I am projecting and sharing my results with you as my DA. As an extension I will be showing you my completed board game with projection from my DIGC310 class.

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