Convergence Culture

I think that the convergence culture is very interesting because it strays from traditional methods of thinking. The Harry Potter example taken was particularly fascinating, considering that I’m a fan myself. The Hogwarts newspaper website was something I did not know about. Not only does this make a community of children feel more connected to the fandom and with each other, it also promotes education in terms of reading, writing, and participating. We can use our creativity and imaginations to be a part of a different world and learn at the same time. Children, who happen to be incredibly impressionable, probably learn a lot and gain critical thinking, logical, and creative development. 

Twitter and Democracy

One of the very important questions that Fuchs asks in this chapter is whether or not there really is a democratic ownership in media organizations. In my opinion, yes to a certain extent. We can post whatever we want, have our own public profile, communicate with others, and freely express our opinions. However, how ‘free’ is it really? Firstly, on Twitter, we can freely express our opinion in only 140 characters? Secondly, there is no such thing on Twitter that can make your profile private. Everyone can see what you post and anyone can follow you. While that may seem like democracy, as a user, I’d like to have the option to choose how private I make my profile. 

 

Going off of the question on democracy and social media. There was an incident on Instagram where a woman posted a picture of herself stained with menstrual blood. Instagram, without informing the woman, took her picture down. In fact, this isn’t the first time Instagram has done this. So honestly, how free are we on social media at the end of the day?

It’s Complicated

Social acceptance depends on the ability to socialize with one’s peers at the “cool” place. Each cohort of teens has a different space that it decides is cool. It used to be the mall, but for the youth discussed in this book, social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the cool places. Inevitably, by the time this book is published, the next generation of teens will have inhabited a new set of apps and tools, making social network sites feel passé. The spaces may change, but the organizing principles aren’t different.

Although I agree with what this text says about spaces changing, but the organizing principles staying the same, I particularly do not agree with one organizing principle that has been mentioned. Yes, it is true that with the rapid development of technology and social media spaces, as a society we are being trained to adapt quickly to new means of communication. As teenagers, the youth of the modern society, it is important to be knowledgable in the newer fields of communication. Also as teenagers, being accepted in in ‘cool’ place is important. But are social platforms like Facebook and Twitter the ultimate ‘cool’ place? To a certain extent yes, the necessity of a teen to go towards what everyone else is doing is a means of getting that acceptance. However, social media platforms are, at the end of the day, a more advanced communication medium necessary for society to thrive in the new global age, especially the youth. More than getting a social acceptance, it is about adapting to the rapidly changing social culture. 

Social media is often designed to help people spread information, whether by explicitly or implicitly encouraging the sharing of links, providing re-blogging or favoriting tools that repost images or texts, or by making it easy to copy and paste content from one place to another. Thus, much of what people post online is easily spreadable with the click of a few keystrokes. Some systems provide simple buttons to “forward,” “repost,” or “share” content to articulated or curated lists. Even when these tools aren’t built into the system, content can often be easily downloaded or duplicated and then forwarded along

“Sharing” has become an incredibly important aspect of social media. Whether it’s re-tweeting, forwarding, re-posting, or re-blogging, the idea of spreading information is becoming vital in the digital universe to keep it active. This has led to the spread of news, no matter how big or small, opinions, activism, humanitarian purposes, etc. Through the spreading of information, especially on social media, the opportunity is given to many to have a voice and an opinion about something in a split second. Giving everyone an equal opportunity to share their opinion might have been a close to impossible thing in the past, but today, it is happening at each and every given moment due to this possibility on a digital platform. 

Competitive Photography and Presentation of the Self

Does that mean that today’s teenager with an iPhone can make as good photographs as educated and experienced magazine photographer of yesterday?“ As long as you can point your camera and snap a shot, you can be a photographer. But is this devaluing the art of photography and photographers in general?” wonders artist Cai Burton.

I find this thought extremely interesting because the concept of image making has evolved so much that it has become, what this article states, as general media literacy. Image making, at one time, used to be a profession that required more than just a phone and a few filters on a social media application. It most definitely was not something the ‘global’ majority could easily produce and have access to on a social platform. In my personal experience, I have several friends who use Instagram as a platform to demonstrate their photography skills. And some of these profiles look astonishingly professional, but in reality made with just an iPhone, an Instagram filter, and brightness adjustments. At the end of the day creating a competitive Instagram profile is a talent in itself, but I suppose the effort that is made by a professional photographer, who knows the vast amount of detail that need attention for a single image, is definitely devalued. 

Competitive photography is aimed at the audience consisting of a peer group of more or less like-minded photographers, and the images circulated within this group are discussed and evaluated primarily on the basis of the mastery of photographic technique, aesthetics, and creativity (unlike, for example, family photography that is circulated among relatives and which is discussed in terms of events and people depicted). Although the means of making and sharing images have radically changed since the 1950s, the category of competitive photography thrives also today and includes also a segment of Instagram photography and selfies

The radical change in competitive photography is indeed something incredibly significant in the making and sharing of images today. Instagram is a platform that has over 500 million active users, and many participate in competitive photography with their individual photography and artistic styles. The concept of ‘likes’ and ‘hearts’ has become so embedded in the social media culture that it has become important for users to develop their individualistic styles, thus having scope for greater value. Many profiles have pictures with styles resembling each other, creating a kind of brand image, and have therefore earned more followers as compared to profiles that are more randomized in their styles. 

Imagined Data Communities

Different elements are constantly added, changed or removed, new services are frequently developed and released to public use, and new technologies capture the imaginations of many.

This sentence accurately describes the advancement of something as simple as a selfie. So much so that these technologies have resulted in ‘selfie’ becoming an actual word in the English Oxford Dictionary. Applications like Instagram are constantly updated, so that the selfies you take have an ample number of filters you can add to make them look better. Snapchat is an application that is more or less designed to send picture of yourself as messages to friends. Other apps like Retrica are designed to make pictures of yourself look more pleasing and ‘share’-worthy. This particular part in the article caught my attention because it made me realize that there is an unbelievable amount of technology out there that is acting as a canvas for us to create an online version of ourselves. The question remaining is how much further can it go and after a certain point would we have created a virtual version of ourselves poles apart from who we truly are? 

In merely 7 months, services that were once used by professional industries have become a common practice.

Again, an amazing statistic on how quickly these technologies are developing and spreading to the mass. Leaving aside apps that we can quickly download onto our phones, software like Photoshop are being used as well, merely for tweaking what we think are blemishes on our selfies. 

Words (such as tags) or numbers (such as location indication, or time) are not meant to explicate an image (as an indexical sign) but rather to group it with all other images that share data similarity. 

Another trend, especially the hashtag, that has grown to become a part of todays social media culture. Almost every single picture that we see, selfie or not, has some kind of a hashtag relating the picture to something that we have done or somewhere that we have been. This has become another way of creating a version of ourselves online. Hashtags that are more popular get more views, which automatically results in your social media popularity soaring higher. 

“You May Know Me From Youtube”

“The desire for attention is entirely human, and the use of various attention-getting techniques has a long lineage. While Richard Schickel famously argued that “there was no such thing as celebrity until the beginning of the 20th century” (2000), historians and media scholars have shown that celebrity and fame have co-existed for centuries (Barry 2008). Many historically Micro-Celebrity in Social Media | 3 significant people used what might be considered early mass media, such as literature, monuments, or portraiture, to strategically solidify their elevated social status. Alexander the Great, for instance, famously cultivated an image of himself as a god and heir to an immortal throne, and hired historians, bards, and poets to spread this myth throughout his empire (Braudy 1986, 4). The advent of mass media gave rise to new forms of celebrity. The burgeoning print culture of the early nineteenth century produced arguably the first print star, Lord Byron, whose romantic exploits, passionate poetry, and handsome face were widely disseminated via newspaper, creating a “brand” consumed by an international female audience and fuelling what Byron’s wife called “byromania” (McDayter 2009). The popularity of film and radio in the early twentieth century demanded constantly updated content, which increased in turn the “names, faces and voices” featured in the media, increasing the number of well-known people (Boorstin 1961, xxxiv). These famous people fueled the popular appetite for theater, radio, and motion pictures, and served as common reference points for a large, diverse, and increasingly urban immigrant population (Henderson 2005). As broadcasting fragmented and multiplied, so did the images and voices of radio, film, television, music, and sports stars.”

This excerpt is interesting because it provides a vivid parallel of rising to fame and becoming a celebrity between then and now, both fueled by some sort of media. I agree with what historians and media scholars have said against Schickel’s argument, because with or without advanced technology, there always was some form of media catering to the audience that individuals did use to rise to the celebrity status. “Early mass media” for example were monuments or portraiture which probably held the same amount of significance that the Internet holds today. Mass media will always be one of the sole methods through which people can rise to a position with a status because it is capable, like the excerpt mentions, of creating a brand name that masses usually get attracted to. 

“In the contemporary United States and Britain, celebrity has become a broader phenomenon in which image, spectacle, and drama are expected in social spheres beyond entertainment, such as business and politics (Guthey, Clark, and Jackson 2009; Street 2004) . In part, this is due to the mediatization of culture; as Frederich Krotz explains, mediatization is the process by which “media in the long run increasingly become relevant for the social construction of everyday life, society, and culture as a whole” (2009). This is distinct from mediation, which refers more generally to communication through media technology (Lundby 2009). Mediatization suggests that even the most intimate dimensions of life, such as individual subjectivity and interpersonal relations, are being actively reshaped and infiltrated by the media (Livingstone 2009).”

The definition given for mediatization made me realize how relevant it actually is in society. We have a tendency to follow what media tells us is popular, whether its trends put forth by actors/actresses, Youtubers, or even magazines. I know that the YouTube community has become immensely popular and incredibly influential. Many youngsters are buying what they are buying, wearing what they are wearing, traveling where they are traveling, etc. It is shaping a particular sect of society and giving a whole new face to our culture, but I guess the question that remains is that if we are letting the celebrity culture of media decide how we behave, how much in control of ourselves are we really?

“While there are significant differences between young women like Magibon, Mollysoda, Miranda Sings and their mainstream media counterparts, they each have the ability to attract an enormous amount of attention—in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of viewers. Social media has ushered in a new era in which average people are able to command audiences as large as those made possible by broadcast media. But because the dynamics of social and mass media are quite different, each lends itself to particular types of celebrity. Social media’s micro-celebrities are often niche personalities with very specific audiences that broadcast media could not support; those who are willing to reveal intimate or emotional material to appeal to viewers; people willing to be accountable and respond directly to audiences; and those prepared to take on unrelenting, often financially unrewarding labor. Analyzing micro-celebrity calls into question the impact of one aspect of fame, attention, on those without the financial and logistical support that celebrity usually brings. Colleen Ballinger agreed to be filmed by MTV thinking it would support her online career, but had a difficult time losing control of her online persona to the machinations of the reality program’s plot lines, which demanded drama.” 

Media has branched out so extensively that an “average” person can rise to a celebrity status through something as simple as a Tumblr Blog or a YouTube channel. Most people nowadays have access to digital media, and it helps to stay connected to what is going on. None of these platforms are remotely similar to each other and yet each of them have millions of users. I suppose the concept of “niche” stood out to me here. The example of Colleen Ballinger, a YouTube star with millions of followers on both her channels, not being able to adjust to the MTV show brings out the definition of being a micro-celebrity. But having millions of followers already, my thought is that at the end of the day it makes no difference to micro-celebrities since they are already “commanding”  such a huge audience through their platforms. It’s just interesting to see how in todays world how easily the mass is influenced- not only in following their trends, but also following in their footsteps. People are resorting to becoming ‘YouTubers’ and ‘Bloggers’ in their careers. However since this is a relatively new concept, many find it hard to accept someone being a ‘YouTuber’. Is there going to be a time in the future where becoming an online celebrity on a platform is as normal as becoming something in the mainstream careers, especially with the advancement of technology? 

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