For this project, I initially started off with the topic of ‘unwritten rules’. During the group conversation it became apparent that the first thing that this phrase conjured up, especially in the minds of women, was the unwritten rules of relationships, double standards, and assumed rules.
Through out my research I have tried to find out what an unwritten rule is, and what sort of environment encourages their growth.
I began by researching in to the wider subject, and listed all the cross over subjects I came across. These included: Social rules and etiquette, assumptions, and rules that have developed through pop-culture.
The main problem I came across was that unwritten rules are, by nature, unwritten. So all my research findings didn’t exactly fit the criteria. However, instead of deterring me from this subject, it brought to light a different aspect of my topic; what happens to an unwritten rule when it is written down?
I looked at popular culture websites that document large collections of unwritten rules, like Cracked.com and popcrunch.com. I also looked at women’s magazines, as it seemed to me, from the group talk, that women are more concerned with lists of rules than men were.
As I read through the rules I had found, I began to realise that a lot of them, especially those relating to social etiquette and pop-culture, were heavily influenced by the opinions of the author. They use the rules as ways of voicing their frustration at the members of the public who have made their lives miserable at some point.
Rules published in magazines, geared towards women, are more geared towards the rules of health and well being, while general magazines branch out into cultural issues. One example I found in Radio Times was a documented set of unwritten rules, disguised as an article about Jamie Oliver’s Dream School. Looking back at his personal experience of education and thinking about how he would change it for the better, allowed him to form his own set of rules for his ideal school.
This made me realise that everyone has their own opinions, their own rules, and their own preferred way of expressing these views, be it verbally, visually, or orally. All three of these methods can be found on the internet.
In order to get a broad view of my emerging topics of personal knowledge, opinion, and how we voice these these opinions I looked into literature on the subject. Two Books that stood out to me most were The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen, and The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. Reading these brought to light the over saturation of opinions available on the internet, causing there to be almost a survival of the fittest situation, with only the strongest sources coming to light. I also learnt how there can be knowledge within large crowds of people, but this information is often mistrusted by individuals. Instead, people assume that the important knowledge is held by a select few.
I have found that my subject is full of contradictions. Unwritten rules are, very often, written down. They are rules, but personal opinions influence them heavily. Intelligence can be found amongst the masses, but we do not trust the information commonly held by the many and search for individuals with what we regard as the truth.
My subject has become more about knowledge, than rules.
From here, I will move on to look at how knowledge is packaged and sold to the public. I want to find a way for people to share their unwritten knowledge, with purpose and without causing an information overload to the receivers.