Why did you choose Washington, D.C.?
I was born and raised in South Carolina, but spent much of my childhood traveling to the Nation’s Capital. My aunt was chosen to be the Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross so she resides here in Washington in order to be close to the National Headquarters. My mom and I would often visit for important events and functions. Because of my frequent trips and exposure to D.C., it has always felt like a second home to me. There are many parts of Washington that I am familiar with, however I know there are areas of the city that I have never been to and know nothing about. I would like to learn more about the lesser known sections of the city and perhaps discover my own hidden treasures.
Who would follow your Instagram? What qualities would help them get the most from your project?
My account would be followed by anyone who is interested in all the things D.C. has to offer; from food, to stores, to historic spots, even sporting events. My hope would be that people could learn more about the city and discover new ways to experience it. When most people think of the Nation’s Capital, they think of famous monuments such as The Lincoln Memorial, The White House, and The National Monument– my goal is to change that. D.C. is so much more than what is on a typical post card, I’ll prove it to you.
Why create an Instagram? What advantages and limitations does that form offer?
By using Instagram as our format, we are appealing to a younger generation who is actively liking, commenting, and posting the social medial site. Our audience will most likely be of the same generation, and interested in similar outlets. Using Instagram makes it incredibly easy to start a following of supporters. Also, once a user follows the account, our posts will come up on their news feed, so they won’t simply forget about us. There is also very much a niche for accounts like @our_dc. Some of the most popular Instagram pages are about or centered around a city. In addition, cities are constantly changing. The account can be updated constantly and will be an ever evolving format by which we show Washington. Choosing social media as our format does, however, limit our audience to fellow Instagram users. It is possible to look at an Instagram account on the internet, but to like and comment on pictures, one must have an account. Another aspect that may be difficult is that a picture must be in every post, so I am not able to post simply words, like one can on Facebook. But for @our_dc, this is a positive since we want to show people in addition to telling them about our version of D.C. All the representations of the city that we have looked at are simply a slice of the city since they can not be edited after publishing. Each one of our pictures is a “slice” of the city but when many of our posts are looked at together, they will provide a more holistic view of the city.
What challenges will you face in representing D.C. effectively?
The goal of our Instagram is to portray to our followers “Our D.C.” This will be a comprehensive look at how we experience Washington: from the places we go, to the people we see, the food we eat, and the things we learn about. D.C. is a city which has practically everything, it is virtually impossible to incorporate everything that makes the city what it is, but the neat thing is that we can post as much as we want on the Instagram! There is no limit to how many pictures, or how many words we can post.
How will you organize your project? How do you hope your audience will navigate through it?
The Instagram page is organized by date. The earlier posts will be located at the bottom, while the latest posts will be on the top. Similar to the class blog, this allows us to constantly update our followers with new findings and information. The easiest way to navigate through our page is to simply scroll down, the app makes it fairly easy. Users can also search for our posts using the hashtag #ourdc.
Update as of 11/19
Today in class we got together in groups to discuss our projects and to receive feedback. I had been thinking about our project and had a growing concern that our theme for the Instagram was simply too broad. The account had turned into a fun, young, light look on DC that resembled a personal Instagram. The goal of the account was to provide a unique look into DC and that was not being accomplished. After brainstorming with several classmates, we decided to focus on DC transportation from an inside perspective. Transportation is a vital part to the people who live, work, and visit the city. Concentrating on the various methods of transportation in DC will allow us to better connect our Instagram to ideas in the course. Our new audience will be people who actively use transportation in the DC area and are interested in learning about who is really behind the wheel.
Update as of 12/08
The main concept that we realized after beginning our initial research on transportation is the underrepresentation of those who work in the transportation industry. The voices of those who use various forms of transportation in DC were heard clearly through online blogs, twitter accounts, and yelp reviews. We choose to give a voice to the people who make our city run on a daily basis. Our new Instagram will be Behind The Wheel DC, because it will recognize those responsible for transporting people each and every day. We interviewed bus drivers, taxi drives, uber drives, metro workers, and other people who work in the transportation industry. The first person we interviewed was a bus driver who we prompted by saying that we wanted to ask a few questions for a project. His immediate answer was “I can’t talk” meaning that he was not allowed to talk about his job or give away any details that may later be used against the company he works for, WMATA. We had to be very careful in our questioning to keep from frightening workers, but still asking questions that prompted insightful discussion.
Why is the NEW Instagram is better than the old one?
The @behind_the_wheel_dc account will appeal more to the person who chooses to look at cities in an in depth manner rather than in a superficial way. Cities have substance and are more than the just delicious restaurants and pretty sights. Instagram will still be a beneficial format because it can constantly be updated along with the new changes in transportation. Our followers will be people who use transportation in the DC area. So often people complain about public transportation and blame the workers or the organizations that run them. By following our account, people will be reminded that there is a person with a story that they are blaming. Hopefully people will realize that harshly criticizing bus drivers or metro attendants for making them late to work is not a beneficial displacement of anger. Our goal is to increase the respect that should be given to people who are such a vital part of DC. This account also draws a direct link to ideas we have talked about as a group. In class, we have discussed from what perspective we view the city, and how this influences what we notice. When walking around a city, it is easier to be completely immersed in its culture, it forces you to notice everyday life and the people who make the city what it is. Taking a bus or the metro often allows people to see the wealth gap in a city, since many lower class citizens use public transportation as well as the middle/upper class workers.