The exhibitionist in every blogger

MAIN BLOG POST: WEEK 7 (b)

Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.

Much like reality television or even memoirs, blogs have risen to be a tool that allows writers to ‘exhibit and put themselves on display’ (Lawrence: 9) . Meanwhile satisfying readers’ tendency to seek out truth through voyeurism, to take a glimpse into the unfiltered lives of other people.

With the introduction of Web 2.0 and the focus on building communities over the internet realm, blogs have sufficed to be a tool to create communities by allowing users to generate their own content, express their own opinions and hold discussions within the communities. So much so that 5 years ago (2006), Time magazine name YOU (the user) Person of the Year.

‘And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.’ (Grossman: 2006)

YOU (we) in Web 2.0 have become more than passive audience(s), YOU (we) have become exhibitionists of your (our) ideas, opinions, even private lives.

‘Technology of the self’ as Foucault termed it is a concept that can be borrowed to explain how blogs are confessions of the self. A large portion of blogs on the Internet domain are essentially diaries, ‘public diary’ (Lovink: 6). The private/public dichotomy of the self is blurred with blogs, as people exhibit details of their lives on the site and the basis of readership is feeding on these exhibitionistic posts.

For example, the blog, http://bleubirdvintage.typepad.com/blog/ who is managed by Miss James. She operates an online business selling vintage pieces and owns a blog which is mainly a portal of daily happenings in her household. While blogging about her daily life, posting snapshots of her children and clothes they wear, products they use, she has attracted a hosts of advertisers on her blog and referrals to her online business.

This blog exemplifies Lovink’s argument that indeed, the Internet is about forming communities but ultimately, they essentially have the sole intention of promoting the user before anything else.

‘No one ever keeps a diary for just himself’ (Lovink: 6)

They are kept to exhibit the self, and in this case of the bleubirdvintage blog, promotion of the self and lifestyle would lead to benefiting in an economic sense for her online business and celebrity-ship in her genre of blogs.

Lovink also argues that blogs are not a new form of journalism (28). I concur with that thought, citizen journalism are clouded with the person’s opinion and interests. It is intrinsically linked to the user’s wish to be the opinion leader (Lazerfeld’s theory) in their community. To be at the top of news, to be the first to inject opinions into daily affairs and to influence opinion seekers while gaining social capital (Burt: 1999). The social capital is therefore the main intention which translates into promotion of the self.

(489 words)

Reference

1. Lawrence. Heidi, ‘Bless Me Blogger For I Have Sinned: Community and Rhetoric of Confession in the Genre of the Blog’, George Mason University.

2. Lovink. Geert, ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp. 1-38.

3. Grossman. Lev, (2006) ‘Time’s Person of The Year: YOU’ in Time Magazine, <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1569514,00.html&gt;, Accessed on 21 May 2011.

4. Burt. Ronald, (1999) ‘The Social Capital of Opinion Leaders’ The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, University of Chicago, Vol. 566, no. 1, pp. 37-54.

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YOUTUBE CELEBRITIES HAVE NO STAKE IN YOUTUBE

MAIN BLOG POST: WEEK 9 (a)

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts ‘remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by the mass media’ (Reader, Page 269)

Theresa Senft defines micro-celebrity as personalities on the web that attains popularity through managing their selves on social networking sites, videos and blogs.

Micro-celebrity involves viewing friends or followers as a fan base; acknowledging popularity as a goal; managing the fan base using a variety of affiliative techniques; and constructing an image of self that can be easily consumed by others (Senft: 2008, 25).

Youtube’s version of micro-celebrities like the personalities behind the channels kevjumba, WongFuProductions, communitychannel, and charice are part of discourse of amateur video translating into media fame and success. Their success however does not prove to be substantial till they make the crossover to traditional mass media which validates Burgess and Green’s argument that these micro-celebrities ‘remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by the mass media’ (2009, 23).

Micro-celebrity on Youtube do not reap the profits that the site gains. For example, in 2006, Google bought over Youtube for $1.65 billion (google-buys-youtube-billion) but the micro-celebrities did not get a share of that profit considering that they are the ones that drive traffic, provide the content for the sustenance of the site. They do not have a stake in the medium in which the fame is built on. From here it is evident that Youtube is a platform where personalities use to advertise and manage themselves to the online community but still rely on traditional mass media in achieving real celebrity status in the mass public. They still have to seek the traditional media for a source of income.

The micro-celebrity rely on talent scouts to gain the opportunity of launching themselves to fame into the mass media realm. A famous example is Charice Pempengco, a singer with Youtube video hits of 13 million, who was subsequently featured on Oprah’s Show (Teen-Singing-Sensation) in which she was given the opportunity to sing with her idol, Celine Dion. After her debut on the mass media, Charice was given the opportunity to produce and record her own label and later, guest star in famous TV musical series, Glee.


Snippets of Charice on Glee. (Credits to Charicematic)

Contrary to Youtube’s ideologies for democratisation of the media, the celebrities that it produces are not a representation of that but rather they encapsulate the traditional media’s sense of celebrity and it conforms all micro-celebrity into the mainstream media. Youtube merely provides the discourse of the promise of the leap to fame into the mass media. It remains a platform for individuals to showcase their talent, and work collaboratively to create amateur videos but ultimately, the recording contract, the live shows, the television appearance, essentially the debut on the mainstream media is the marker of official celebrity status for the micro-celebrity. At the end of the day much of their fame is still managed by the traditional media.

(457 words)

References

1.Burgess, J and Green, J. (2009) ‘YouTube and the mainstream media’, YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 15-37.

2. Senft, T. (2008) Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks. New York: Peter Lang.

3. Google buys Youtube for $1.65 Billion, (2006), <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15196982/ns/business-us_business/t/google-buys-youtube-billion/&gt;, accessed on 25 May 2011.

4. Charice bio, <www.charicemusic.com/bio/>, accessed on 23 May 2011.

5. Teen Singing Sensation, (2009), <http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Teen-Singing-Sensation_1&gt;, accessed on 25 May 2011.

Lady Gaga Sells Entire New Album for $0.99 on Amazon

Lady Gaga Sells Entire New Album for $0.99 on Amazon.

Another example of a successful mainstream music artist abandoning the old music distribution model and use online digital format for distribution.

Reference

1. Lady Gaga Sells Entire New Album for $0.99 on Amazon, 24 May 2011, <http://mashable.com/2011/05/23/lady-gaga-amazon/&gt;

GIANT GUMMY BEAR VIDEOS WITH GIANT VIEWS ON YOUTUBE

Do you know what VAT19 is?

Neither did I, till one day I clicked on this

which led to this

and to this

and eventually everything on this

And the trend here is that they are incredibly intriguing but useless products but people are viewing these videos in huge numbers and are actually buying the products. And VAT19 does not use the traditional marketing strategy of television campaigns, they simply use self-produced videos in their in-house video production studio in Missouri, America and Youtube as the main source of media channel.

The videos are designed to be viral and the way it goes viral is by being really cheesy and some a mimicry of infomercials. This is a great example to how companies utilise social media to their advantage. Instead of buying heavily priced television advertising spots, their investment in the online medium really paid well.

Back to the site for more redundant but incredibly entertaining videos and products!

See reference for more information

1. VAT19 Youtube page, http://www.youtube.com/user/vat19com#g/u
2. VAT19 Website, http://www.vat19.com/

PRIVATE IS POLITICAL?

I came across this article online today.

It is about a 13 year old middle school boy being held by the secret service for interrogation after school over a post on facebook warning Obama on possible attacks in the wake of Osama’s death.

And it makes me wonder does the phrase ‘the private is political’ apply to the digital realm.

Are we being monitored on things we do and things we say on these online channels? If we are, are we at even greater risks of losing our freedom of speech?

By treating a post on Facebook that seriously, is the government or authorities acknowledging the effects of mass communication of this portal?

I’m just too terrified.

Maybe this blog post is being monitored by some secret service intelligence right now.

Reference:

1. 19 May 2011, <http://digitallife.today.com/_news/2011/05/18/6667233-secret-service-interrogates-13-year-old-over-facebook-post?chromedomain=technolog&gt;.

SCHOOL 2.0!

6 Companies Aiming to Digitize the Textbook Industry.

Just like there is WEB 2.0, will there is a SCHOOL 2.0?

Will there be a day where pens, pencils, eraser, stationery as a whole be obsolete in the classroom?

WIll there be a day where kids only pack lunches and a slim ebook reader into their school bags?

Will there even be school bags?

Wait, will there even be classrooms?

Reference

1. 6 Companies Aiming to Digitize the Textbook Industry, 10 May 2011, < http://mashable.com/2011/05/10/digital-textbook-companies/&gt;

TASTE COMMUNITIES

MAIN BLOG POST: WEEK 3

While discussing YouTube, Jose van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favorites. How do ranking tactics impact on the formation of online ‘communities’?

YouTube Communities

Owen Thomas says (2011):

When we talk about community, we talk about places and spaces. But online communities transcend geography.

The term community can sometimes cloud our perception of a new notion of a group coming together in the non-existential space, online. We may get confused when we coined that as a community when all we really know about community is a group of like-minded people coming together with a spatial element to it. Discounting the spatial element, yet still using the term community, the online community is one that is not bounded by space, geography and can extend interaction to a wider group of like-minded people, developing into niche communities.

YouTube communities form when people sharing a communal preference in culture, interact (Dijck: 2009, 45). The factor that link these people is the sharing of a preference. By having similar tastes in a particular subject, these people are able to connect and eventually form communities in the online realm, without having to exist in the same spatial region. YouTube communities can also be termed as Taste Communities.

Ranking Tactics

Originally, YouTube’s intentions were to ‘democratise the entertainment process’ by giving ordinary people the opportunity to perform for potentially large audience (Dijck: 2009, 52)

However the algorithms and ranking systems on the site helps promote a ‘brokerage’ type setting on this online medium. YouTube with the annual YouTube awards, Most Popular video section, Recommended Video section has interrupted their initial goal to democratise the entertainment process. The ranking system can be manipulated with the right technological knowledge and for the ordinary people they might not have the necessary skills or opportunity to acquire the right knowledge to beat the ranking system on YouTube in order to get their videos across. The ordinary people also have to fight to stay on the top and compete with professionally produced videos. The ranking tactics mimics the traditional audiovisual channel, the television or films which silence the noise of the amateurs and boosts the voice of the professionals increasing the digital divide.

Formation of taste communities are impeded as the same type of videos dominate the YouTube arena due to ranking tactics. The users are directed more to particular videos while isolating others. This especially relates to niche taste communities that do not ride the popular wave and thus does not receive the same exposure. The formation of taste communities on YouTube are heavily shaped by the ranking tactics and are not democratically formed.

Hate Culture

Ranking tactics is deeply entrenched in participatory culture where users are encouraged to comment on videos and create videos in reply of existing ones. However this has created a hate culture within the taste communities where users capitalising on the collective dislike of a certain video, condemns and insults it relentlessly.

In this sense, ranking tactics has increased the formation process of hate culture in taste communities which has negative repercussions to the ideal democratic environment of YouTube. An example would be:

The Fine Brother: Benny Fine & Rafi Fine
(496 words)

Reference:

1. Thomas, O. (2011),  Mashable OP-ED: Why Online Communities Are Redefining The Concept Of Local, <http://mashable.com/2011/05/13/online-communities-new-local/&gt;, 15 May 2011 (Date Accessed 17 May 2011)

2. Jose van Dijck (2009), ‘Users like you? Theorising Agency in User-Generated Content’ pp. 41-58, in Media, Culture and Society.