Designing Experiences for Pleasurable Information
RATION NATION – FOOD INSECURITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
The brief for this study block makes a point to introduce the concepts of sincerity in information delivery. Overall, in the UK, a very small number of corporations own the bulk of media companies.[Ref] Like every commercial, for-profit business, media companies can have their agendas. Viewers and listeners might or might not trust the messages disseminated by mainstream media without reservations and not question the sincerity and objectivity.
As the 2018 London School of Economics report about Trust in Journalism states, ‘trust in traditional media appears to be declining, and this allows misinformation to compete with real news for the public’s attention.’ The same source also pointed out that the UK was losing the local newspapers at an alarming rate, with around 200 local media outlets closed between 2005 and 2016. So, without local media outlets, the centralised national media controls the narrative of the local stories or omits the essential local issues altogether in its reporting.[Ref]
The brief also points out the amount of data and information available to people every day, in the form of traditional and new media. While people 100 years ago would be primarily aware of local or national issues and learn about global events after a delay, people today can access Livestreams from another continent and see Tweets and media content as soon as these are published.
In this study block, I will consider all these factors affecting information delivery methods through the concepts of time, physicality, and the human condition. Working as a group, we determined our understanding of the human condition, technology condition and our knowledge of information delivery models and approaches. To sum up, we examined the question of the human condition as connected to our physiological and spiritual needs, self-actualisation, awareness, and creativity.
A part of the exploration focused on exploring what we titled Technological condition due to the omnipresence of the new media and the observation that a lot of our lives happen online.
The Internet and social media also entered the spaces previously occupied by mainstream media and traditional information outlets such as press, radio and television. One of our tasks was to judge how much credibility we give to the information delivery methods we listed, whether we considered some of them serious and others less credible.
This task led me to investigate whether humans accept the information delivered through the Internet and social media differently.
Fan et al. (2021)[Ref] from the Shanghai International Studies University conducted research exploring how our credibility and trust in media changed in the advent of new media such as the Internet, overtaking traditional press and radio as sources of information. Their findings were consistent with previous studies, which supposed that serious news topics covered by conventional media were considered more believable than the same news read in new media.
While this study was focused more on the issues of trust, it made me think whether there is a possibility that people exposed only to the new media sources and eschewing conventional media for the sake of being digital can feel desensitised to the serious news. Suppose the information about serious issues covered by the new media is considered as possibly exaggerated or less credible. What effect does it have on the modern viewer or reader? Online entertainment is just a click away from the news site and a click away from distracting us from the news message.
These considerations about the human condition and information delivery led us to explore local and national issues and how they are portrayed in the media, given the disappearance of local media outlets and the access to an overwhelming amount of news, facts, and opinions.
I decided to draw up and communicate a contemporary local or national issue. I explored three current topics close to my interests: the wealth gap, universal income, and food insecurity through mind-mapping.
Food insecurity facts: Nutrition is a basic human need, and the lack of food is of immediate concern to many people, causing hunger and, in more extreme cases, malnutrition and starvation.
Cambridge Dictionary defines hunger[Ref] as ‘the feeling you have when you need to eat’ and ‘a situation in which the body does not have enough food.’
According to The Food Foundation, recent issues such as Covid-19, inflation, and growing food prices contributed to more people using food banks in the UK. [[Ref]
I tried to analyse the imagery of food insecurity to see how the news portrayed the issue and what stories they focused on through browsing online newspapers. This approach determines the traditional information delivery modes and will help design an event/ or experience contra to these established routes.
The design concept proposal I worked on also included a historical context for food insecurity in the UK, bringing into view the period of food rationing and shortages during the Blitz and in the post-war period.
The aesthetic of posters and the language used for wartime food propaganda suggested that the nation had to refrain from wasting food to support the war effort. People accepted the food rationing and coped.[Ref]
In the current media, some used the wartime precedent to suggest the British public’s ability to cope with this new food-related ordeal when food rationing suggestions appeared. However, comparing food insecurity caused by war to the current factors contributing to food poverty attempts to divert blame from people in power to circumstance. Charities and NGOs point out the rising energy bills, Brexit, inflation, pandemic, policies, and austerity measures as factors driving people into poverty. [Ref]
The people in power are slower to fight the growing crisis, and civic-minded people like Marcus Rushford or Jack Monroe drive the change to support the poor and hungry.
Ration Nation: The described factors influenced the conceptualisation and design of a public exhibit under the name Ration Nation. The exhibit is aimed at the general public and politicians, activists and campaigners. The aim is to place the display in a public park.
Development process included preparing packages, sewing parachutes, designing zines for cans, location scouting and sound editing.
Cambridge Dictionary. 2022. [online] Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/hunger [Accessed February 8 2022].
Collingham, L. 2011. The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food. London. Allen Lane.
Defeyter, G, Stretesky, P, Forsey, A, Mann E, Henderson, E, Pepper, G, Walters, P. 2020. Food and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. [online] June, 2020. Available at: https://feedingbritain.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Food-and-coping-strategies-during-the-COVID-19-pandemic.pdf [Accessed February 8 2022].
Defra Press Office. 2020. Response to calls for food rationing. [online] March, 2020. Available at: https://deframedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/03/26/response-to-calls-for-food-rationing/ [Accessed February 11 2022].
Fan B, Liu S, Pei G, Wu Y, Zhu L. 2021. Why Do You Trust News? The Event-Related Potential Evidence of Media Channel and News Type. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 12:663485. 14, April. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8081029/ [Accessed February 7 2022].
Living Wage Foundation. 2021. Life on low pay in the pandemic. [online] February, 2021. Available at: https://www.livingwage.org.uk/sites/default/files/LW_LifeOnLowPayPandemic_Feb2020.pdf [Accessed February 10 2022].
London School of Economics and Political Science. 2018. Journalism credibility. Strategies to restore trust. [online] 2018. Available at: https://www.lse.ac.uk/media-and-communications/truth-trust-and-technology-commission/journalism-credibility [Accessed February 9 2022].
Media Reform Coalition. 2021. Who Owns the UK Media. [online] March, 2021. Available at: https://www.mediareform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Who-Owns-the-UK-Media_final2.pdf [Accessed February 9 2022].
Parnham JC, Laverty AA, Majeed A, Vamos EP. 2020. Half of children entitled to free school meals did not have access to the scheme during COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Public Health vol 187. [online] October, 2020, p.161-164. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32980783/ [Accessed February 12 2022].
The Food Foundation. 2021. A crisis within a crisis: The Impact of Covid-19 on Household Food Security. Report. [online] March, 2021. Available at: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/publication/crisis-within-crisis-impact-covid-19-household-food-security [Accessed February 12 2022].
The Guardian. 2020. UK food banks face record demand in coronavirus crisis. [online] May, 2020. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/01/uk-food-banks-face-record-demand-in-coronavirus-crisis [Accessed February 6 2022].