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SMC316 Week 6: Fan Networks, Social Capital and Participatory Culture

Week 6: Feb. 24, 2016
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Sara Grimes

on 31 March 2016

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Transcript of SMC316 Week 6: Fan Networks, Social Capital and Participatory Culture

SMC 300 Mediating the Social
Social Networks and Technologies
"Two-thirds of online [American] adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn" (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2011).

Comparable adoption rates in Canada - 60% of online adults, 86% of 18-34 yr olds, use social networks (Ipsos-Reid, 2011).
"95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites" (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2011).

38% of EU kids aged 9-12 years have an SNS account (EU Kids Online, 2011).

Canadian stats coming soon (Media Awareness), likely similar.
Online social networking: something that occurs across contexts, across platforms (computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles, TVs, etc.), and across diverse forms of online practice/activity:
content sharing sites (Youtube, Spotify, ThisisMyJam): posting/reposting, commenting, liking, linking, friending, profile pages, leaving traces ("views"), etc.

content creation sites (Scratch, DeviantArt, Ravelry, Storybird): posting/remixing, collaborating, commenting, liking/hearting, friending, groups, profiles/portfolios, etc.

multiplayer games/networks (PlayStation Network, XBox Live, MMOGs, LittleBigPlanet, Dark Souls, Farmville, Words with Friends, etc.
boyd (2008): Traces social networking back to Friendster - not the first, exactly, but the one that "popularized the features that define contemporary social network sites--profiles, public testimonials or comments, and publicly articulated, traversable lists of friends" (p.121).
MySpace - 2003 - welcomed bands & alternative uses (e.g. posting free downloads of songs, celebrity persona-building, fan activities, online socializing with friends/classmates (rather than strangers).
$4.72 billion in 2011

$760 million in 2010

$850 million in 2010
4. Highly Controversial
©2010, Edudemic
5. Part of Everyday Life
Come Into My World:
Key Attributes of Social Networking Technologies
boyd & Ellison's definition
Expanding the definition
Established definitions (e.g. boyd & Ellison)

Expanding definitions (e.g. Social networking as something that occurs across contexts, across platforms (computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles, TVs, etc.), and across diverse forms of online practice).
Week2

Privacy, Surveillance & Always-On Access
We Want Your Soul:
Week3
Dissolving and transforming notions of public/private and presence.

Policy concerns and regulatory questions (sovereignty, public good, protecting vulnerable populations, etc.)

Business models, data-mining and flows, the user as commodity (how do social networks make $$$?).
Going Nowhere:
Introduction to the Course:
Why a Course on Social Media?
Week1
University of St. Michael's College
University of Toronto

Thursdays 2pm-4pm
Alumni Hall 100
Sara M. Grimes, PhD
Faculty of Information
Locative Technologies & Resituating the Network
Week4
Course Playlist
Thematically linked to weekly topics & readings
The importance of geography, space, location/ing

Mapping the network, rethinking physical/virtual divides: relationships, environments, objects, etc.

Reframing (re-enchanting) experiences & places, the e.g. of ARGs
We Used to Wait:
Etsy, Kickstarter, & the Death of the Middleman
Week5
Social networks/tech as challenging (and profoundly changing) established systems of cultural production and distribution.

Micro-financing, free/collaborative/crowd-sourced culture, the return of the artisan model of production, indie/DIY vs. mass-production.

Shifting notions of publishing, hosting and distributing (the "death" of the middleman), the rise of the amateur, the rise of the curator.
Week6
Get it Together:
Online, Multiplayer Gaming Networks
Virtual worlds and massively-multiplayer online games, and web-enabled games as social forums and/or social networks of play.

UGC games and player-creator networks; why badges, achievements, trophies and gamerscores matter.

Play, leisure, creativity and the notion "affinity spaces" (Jim Gee).
Fan Networks, Social Capital & Participatory Culture
Week 6
Social networks of fan/creator engagement (whether the creators like it or not!), new(ly visible) audience dynamics (participatory culture).

New notions (and debates) of authorship, tributes, fan fiction, fair use/dealing, & transmedia intertextuality.

Fandom (& participation) as form of social capital.
©2009-2012 ~elixirXsczjX13
©2006-2012 ~Fay-lin
Dirt Off Your Android:
Remixing, Reposting & Copyright Issues
Week9
Remixing, re-appropriation, adaptation, bricollage, transformation vs. imitation, ongoing debates about copyright (and intellectual property) in a digital, collaborative, crowd-sourced world.

Emerging (and heavily contested) social and legal norms around ownership, authorship, reposting, attribution and commons.
©2010 Mari Kasurinen
©2008 Brett Gaylor
Take Me to the Riot:
Networking Activism & Political Action
Week10
From the Battle in Seattle to the Arab Spring: the role (documented, alleged and contested) of social networking media & tech within contemporary political movements, activism and social change.
©2011 Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
World Town:
Transnational Networks & the Globalization of Social Media
Week11
Global networks of media, technologies and power; notions of "global culture"

Emerging theories of digital globalization, transnational flows, and enduring issues/questions of access, mobility, exchange.
Week12
Give it All to the Man:
Who Owns and Profits from the Network?
Revisiting earlier questions about business models, production/distribution systems, labour, ownership, power relations, and the political economic dimensions of current social networking technologies.

Rethinking (critically) about dominant discourses of empowerment & play within social networking platforms.
1. Recent Phenomenon
Initial users mid-20s/30s. Some used the site's dating features, but lots of other uses as well. In 2003, bands started using it to connect with fans, promote shows, which Friendster discouraged by deleting band accounts.
2. BIG Business
Youth Involvement (Inc. Younger)
3. Highly Popular
How will we explore all this?
Week2 Agenda
Results of the social media survey
Defining social network(ing) sites, media, technologies & practices.
Expanding definitions (from "sites" to forums")
Continuities & differences: mediating on mediation :b
Details re: assignment #1
Clay Shirky: "Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)" TED.com, Jan. 2012
Written in 2007, there were already "hundreds of SNSs, with various technological affordances, supporting a wide range of interests and practices" (p.1).

Definition: "web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system" (p.2).
Backbone of SNS = Profile
Social Media Survey Results
+ (by popular request):
reddit.com
Ongoing: Week 2 - 13. Minus spring break. So, graded on 11 weeks worth of contributions. Worth 20% of your grade: 10% based on keeping up with weekly posts (at least 2/week); 10% based on relevance (to course materials/themes , class discussion, assignments, etc.)

Cross-check system:

Every week, I'll create a "site" log: noting who has contributed to each forum, how much, when, etc.
Each of you will maintain a personal "online course contributions" log - keep track of what you are posting, where and when (ONLY include things relevant to the course - not personal)
NOTE: You don't have to use real names or existing profiles, BUT you do need to make sure I have any handles, nicknames, pseudonyms you use for this course linked up to your real name/student number (to ensure you get all of your marks counted).
1. Create an account (if you don't have one already)
2. Tweet @smgrimes to let me know you're in this class (I'll follow/add you to the SMC300 list - which you can then follow, if you'd like)
3. Start following and contributing to the class discussion, using #SMC300 (very important!!!!)
1. Create an account (if you don't have one already)
2. Search for Group "SMC300 Mediating the Social"
3. Send request to be added as member of group
4. Start posting, commenting, liking on Wall (we can move into other features as things get going)
1. Create an account. Create a "Circle" for this class.
2. Track me down through "Find People" (Sara Grimes) and add me to a circle. I will add you all to my "SMC300" class circle & from there you can all add each other to your own "class circle".
3. Start following and contributing to the class discussion. We'll experiment with hangouts, games, etc. as the semester progresses.
1. Become a contributor to Mediating the Social course blog. Email me the email address you would like me to use (e.g. gmail to connect it up w/ existing profile) to generate an electronic invitation to become a contributor. Accept the invitation once it arrives.
2. Post on items, stories, readings of interest - comment on each others' posts.

And/Or

1. Create your own course blog (individual or in groups) and link it up to the main course blog (email me to let me know what the URL is).
2. Post about news stories, links and resources relevant to the course, questions and thoughts on the readings/lectures, comment on each others' posts.

And/Or

1. "Publicly" (real or pseudonym) follow the course blog and add comments, discussion to the posts I and others publish.
Network - not networkING - because "'Networking' emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication" (p.2).
Argue that the truly unique characteristic of SNS is that they contain "articulated social networks" - they "enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks" (p.2).
©2009 Schmelling & Liao, for McSweeney's
1. Create an account/Channel.
2. Track down my channel ("smgrimes" - channel name: Extracurricular) and subscribe to it. Let me know who you are, & I'll subscribe to your channel too.
3. Start creating playlists (class specific), posting videos, commenting, subscribing to channels, and liking videos.
Shirky (2008): "we are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional instituations and organizations" (p.21).
"Whether creating a Wikipedia entry, posting a comment on Reddit, running a WordPress blog, participating in an open source software project or reading a posting on BoingBoing, the lifeblood of the Internet is a direct target of SOPA" (Michael Geist, thestar.com, Jan. 18 2012).
As Lastowka (2012) explains, while existing legislation (DMCA) provides “safe harbor” provisions for hosts of online content, who could "avoid copyright infringement liability by following certain procedures" (e.g. removing infringing content when asked, etc.), SOPA and PIPA put an onus on hosts and Internet service providers to police copyright infringement.

The consequences of copyright infringement (or suspicion thereof) would also be much harhser - offending sites would now be able to be "banished" from the web altogether (through changes to the Domain Name System - DNS).
Criticisms: copyright infringement defined in very sweeping (oftentimes corporately-biased) terms.

Risk of witch hunt mentality erring on the side of "caution" - shutting down (access to or content on) sites, posts and forums that "could be" conceived of as infringement.
What does this tell us about our ability to share and engage in social/cultural participation "outside fo the framework of traditional institutions and organizations"?
Private Messaging*: A feature similar to webmail - allows for private messages to be exchanged between 2 or more users.

*boyd & Ellison specify these are not "universally available"
Common Features of SNS
(boyd & Ellison)
Profiles: Unique pages featuring personal information about the user, incl. descriptors (age, location, interests), photo(s), tastes...
Self-presentation (performance) & Impression management
Friends: articulated list that "identif[ies] others in the system with whom they have a relationship" (p.3). Many bi-directional (e.g. Facebook - both people must confirm "friend"ship), but others not (e.g. Twitter - followers, can be blocked but no need to confirm or follow back).
Key: "Public displays of connection" (Donath & boyd, 2004) & friendship performance.
Comments*: Mechanisms enabling users to leave messages and post content on their Friends' profiles (publicly, quasi-publicly - see above)
Social Network(ing) Forums
Broader term that encompasses a variety of different technologies, genres of participation/theme/design, platform, activities, types of engagement. Identified in terms of the presence of the following attributes:
Communication
Profiles
Networking Residues
Hierarchies of Access
Communication
The mechanism and public/private setting may differ, but having some sort of ability to communicate with others is a crucial part of online social networking
Profile
Networking Residues
Hierarchies of Access
Hierarchies (differentiating users) based on level of access to site content, items, communication, special features, etc. Established structurally in the technical design, chat systems, security mechanisms, and business models (e.g. can pay for deeper "premium" access or tools, etc.).
Organizing
without Organizations
Shirky (2008): SNS enables groups to organize without the hierarchies and systems that enable traditional organizations to function (coordinate large groups & multiple tasks effectively).

Says: "the idea of limiting communications, so that they flow only from one layer of the hierarchy to the next, was part of the very design of the system at the dawn of managerial culture" (p.42).
SNS, such as Flickr, exemplify "post-managerial organization" - they are simply "platform[s]; whatever coordination happens comes from the users and is projected onto the site" (p.46).

Large-scale coordination can now be achieved at a "low cost" (or is the cost merely absorbed/hidden?).
Shirky describes this "group undertaking" as a progression, or ladder of activity (higher up the ladder, the deeper the level of engagement, higher difficulty in achieving):

Sharing: fewest demands on participants, participation largely individual
Cooperation: involves changing behavior to synchronize with others (who are doing the same); a conversation - give and take. Higher level of cooperation = "collaborative production": participation involves co-authoring, "no one person can take credit for what gets created" (p.50).
Collective Action: the most difficult to achieve, requires a group t o commit themselves to a particular effort, the decision/outcome of which is binding, responsibility is shared, user identity is tied to identity of group ("cohesion of the group becomes critical" (p.51).
©Mermaid Parade 2011, Coney Island, NY (photo by: Eby Harvey)
Questions:
How would you define SNS - in terms of key characteristics, unique activities enabled, underlying organization?

For you, today, what sites/technologies best exemplify "SNS"? Why?

Are these early, foundational definitions and theories still relevant? Why or why not?

What do you make of Shirky's two descriptions of power/organization in SNS and online culture more generally? What tension(s) is he engaging with, and can it be reconciled (& if so, how)?
Coming soon....
Week3 Agenda
Housekeeping
Accessibility Services Request
Special Invitation from TIFF Higher Learning

Brief revisit of Shirky's "organizing without organizations"

This week's readings:
reputation & management, data mining & surveillance
expectation v. reputation
privacy - different values and/or different priorities?
There is a student in this class who requires a volunteer notetaker as an accommodation for a disability. By signing up and posting your notes, you can make a significant difference for this individual’s capacity to fully participate in this course. Go to: http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/accessibility/pcourselist.aspx or come in person to Accessibility Services 215 Huron St. Suite 939.

Many students notice the quality of their notetaking improves through volunteering.

You will also receive a certificate of recognition.
TIFF Higher Learning Master Class
with Game of Thrones author
Accessibility Services
Request for Volunteer
George R.R. Martin
Tuesday, March 13 at 10:00am
TIFF Lightbox, 350 King Street West
1 ticket per student - bring valid student ID

Rush tickets should be available the day of the event
30 tickets reserved for SMC300 students
January 26, 2012
Hearn (2010): Looks at the various "web tools and analytics that...measure, manage, represent and structure our feelings..." (p.422).

Online reputation as one area (out of many) where user participation is "mined for value" - asks "But, where, and for whom, are profits actually made in these processes?" (p.422).
Hidden Structures of SNS
"Affective Economics" - emotional investment, commitment, motivations that drive consumer practice. Includes ideas of self/identity, social/cultural capital, fetishization of particular goods and brands, brand loyalty, etc. (feelings - emotional & physical). Big Name: Lawrence Grossberg

Affective Labour: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri Immaterial labour = caring/customer service, personal life experience, sense of self...adds "affective" value to work, to consumer transactions + fuels capitalism more generally.

Related: Social Capital - See Gauntlett Chapter 6 (required reading on Week 8)
Hearn argues that the structuring of users' affect and performance of "self" can be understood as "self-branding" - wherein meaning-making and self-identity (construction/performance) are directed (structured) and manipulated by commercial interests to generate value/profits.
Technology Design
Economics/Business Model
Maybe not "organizations" in traditional sense - but social networking (& online cultural participation) still subject to big organizations/institutions, who continue to make (top down, hierarchical) autonomous decisions about value (what's considered valuable, how will value & the profits it generates be maximized, etc.).

Hearn: "power of authorizing and validating attention" (p.424)
Decisions express themselves in various ways: 2 examples are technological design and underlying business priorities. E.g. shaping platforms to support & advance whatever types of activity, or data, generate the greatest profit at the least cost, etc. Not always to the exclusion of everything else, but a prioritization that can be in tension with the idea of the self-organizing system described in the Shirky chapter.
Not reciprocal or shared - the economic value of this relationship is only available to "those who develop, control and license the mechanisms of extraction...not the people doing the expressing" (p.423)

This configuration generally marked by exploitative relations. + users lose control of what they produce.
The "empty self"? ->
Hearn argues that we are currently witnessing a "shift from a working self, to the self *as* work in the form of a self-brand with reputation as its currency" (p.426).

Agree? Disagree?

Does this idea impact on your view or experience of the class participation assignment?

Is there a way to keep your coursework for #SMC300 devoid of affect & reputation management? Should it?
Discussion
Social Costs & Benefits
Human battery farm, still from "The Matrix" (1999)
Self-Branding
i.e. Pick stuff or we'll pick it for you
Liking/Hearting as Curation or Filing System
Expectation & Responsibility
Both articles point to growing social expectation that users will "be" online - available to make plans with friends, view a family member's photo album - but also have a public persona/reputation for employers to check up on...and later for clients, students, business associates to base opinions or decisions on.

Who is currently "responsible" for building & maintaining your online persona? (hint: you - even though lots beyond control)
Sense that there are immediate consequences to NOT engaging, not sharing, not participating...

Is it a question of values, or of notions/opinions, or awareness, or perhaps priorities?
Where do we see the greatest risk,
what do we see as having "value"?
Contrast with Raynes-Goldie, who discusses the social costs associated with NOT engaging, divulging, participating. Sees use of loopholes and workarounds as evidence of ineffectiveness of Facebook's privacy controls. Yet, respondents used the site anyway. Perceived benefits outweighed perceived costs.
Proposes that young people are more concerned with "social privacy" than institutional privacy.
Many Types of Privacy...
Judith Wagner DeCew (1997): informational and expressive:

Raynes-Goldie (2010): "For DeCew, informational privacy is the protection of personal information relating to daily activities, finances, and lifestyle. Expressive privacy is the desire to protect oneself from the influence of peer pressure or ridicule and to be free to express one's own identity" (p. 4). R-G puts both types under the larger term "social privacy."
Institutional privacy: (R-G identifies with pre-SNS notions and concerns): Until recently "if you were to ask someone about privacy they would frame their response based on how institutions such as governments, banks and other businesses, use or misuse their personal information" (p.4).

Especially associated with privacy threats originating from government and large corporations.
Another way to look at expectation and responsibility - users' own expectations of how their data will be used, assumptions about responsibility of sites to protect, act in best interest, inform, etc.

E.g. what do we think companies can and would do with information about what you and your friends are doing on Friday night? Or data showing you like ice cream and Game of Thrones?
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
©2009 Factoryjoe/Wikimedia Commons
Connecting Hearn & Shirky (both readings & SOPA talk):
Hearn (2010): "As reputation seekers in the reputation economy, we may be nodes in the new distributed means of production as producer, product and consumer, but we do not even begin to control the means of our own distribution" (p.435).
FB Timeline - Revealing Data Patterns
Week4 Agenda
Housekeeping
Hand in your Social Media/Tech Map (Assignment 1)

Guest Lecturer!!!!!: Glen Farrelly, PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Information & Geosocial Networking expert

Social Networks, "locative aware mobile tech" and the "new spatial logic"

Alternate Reality Games (ARG), mobile tech and networking the "magic circle"
De Souza e Silva & Frith (2010):
"Locative mobile social networks (LMSNs)"
Connect people to physical spaces/places (Reconnect? Reveal??)
Connect people to each other
One way: allowing people to "see each other's position on a map" & "interact with one another according to their relative distance in physical space" (p.485).
De Souza e Silva & Frith argue that LMSNs represents a new way technology mediates the social:
by mediating relationships "between users and physical/digital spaces"
AND highlighting the physical (in terms of geography, location) within relationships "among users connected in a social network" (p.485).
Not entirely new - early examples in art, research and games since 2001 (and some linkages to smart mobs, etc., using non-location aware mobile technologies before that). But stunted for many years by lack of access to API, privacy concerns, limited bandwidth (De Souza e Silva & Frith, 2010).
Key point: LMSNs lead to a "shift in the traditional meaning of networks: from spatial strictures where the nodes [users] overshadow the paths [physical space]...to structures in which the paths indeed matter to the user" (p.487). Indeed, LMSNs encourage users to pay attention to "paths" or physical spaces and places - often reward them for doing so.
Locative Mobile Social Networks
Key Characteristics of LMSN*:
They are networks: a "structure of connected nodes"
These nodes are mobile: can move through space while communicating via mobile devices
Commercial - location-based services
They "visualize the physical location of the nodes of a social network" - here again, we see how visualization/representation plays a key role
*Described on p.487
Feb. 2, 2012

Since 2008 - iPhone 3G & Android - broad "popularization and commercialization of location-aware applications" (p.486) - which contain "location based services (LBSs)" such as "geotagging", "mapping" and social networking.
Differentiate LMSN from previous "Mobile social networks" (MSN), which have 4 key characteristics:
nodes converge in physical spaces (e.g. flash mob)
organization of network occurs digitally
ephemeral (can dissolve as quickly as they form)
many-to-many interaction thru mobile devices
Example "Flash Mob":
International Dance Day Flash Mob at the Toronto Eaton Centre (2010)
Nomadic Networks
In contrast to things like flash mobs - where the important thing is converging at the same place at the same time (how you get there is irrelevant), location-aware tech emphasizes the in-between: the journey, the trajectory, the paths between nodes (and the act of travelling between nodes).

Emphasizes by: putting continuous attention on location and distance. Informationalizing spaces/places. Visualizing users, experiences, visits, routes, etc.
Deleuze and Guattari (1987) notion of the "nomadic network":

De Souza e Silva & Frith (2010): "Nomads traveling through space still travel from point to point, just like members of LMSN still travel from point to point. But for the nomad, it is the 'intermezzo', the in-between, which matters more than the final destination" (p.494).

Experiencing space (& movement through space) in this way may change traditional perceptions. Particularly applied to urban space.
e.g. Transit time can become social experience (as opposed to "dead time") - filled with opportunities for discovery, interaction, information, challenges, play, etc. Can inspire rethinking of routes and habits, e.g. not choosing the quickest way, but one you haven't taken before (to access new data, experiences, games, etc.)
Shift in perception = re-appropriating, re-claiming, re-thinking, and/or re-enchanting the urban environment (long thought to be alienating, rationalized, prohibitive, etc.).
E.g. Hidden Playgrounds
"[W]hat's promising about these seeing stone games is the way in which they open up space for those more imaginative and autonomous forms of play. By breaking down existing definitions of what an urban or suburban landscape is, how it should be experienced and what kids are expected to do there, games like The Hidden Park put forth a direct challenge to the idea that public space is inappropriate and dangerous for kids. Once this space is opened up, so is the play potential" (Grimes, 2009, p.2).
Shifting Perceptions
Spohrer (1999) describes 3 ways a shift in our perception or notion of place can be valuable:
New conceptual category - nonphysical information - can be overlaid/contextualized within physical spaces and become a part of them.
Same place = multiple meanings - depending on who perceives it and why
Meaningful properties of a place can be stored/accessed/shared.
(as cited in De Souza e Silva & Frith, 2010, p.490)
Example of ARGs can be useful here (ilovebees)
Turning everyday life and everyday space into a hybridized play experience. Shared with others. Breaks the rules (social norms).
Magic circle
Huizinga (play theorist) talks about play occuring in a "magic circle" which separates the game/activity being played from the "serious" of everyday life (work, consequences, money, etc.) Circle is drawn in time and space, temporarily. Inside the circle, a new, made-up set of rules are followed - to which everyone "buys in" voluntarily for the duration of the game (can be negotiated, of course).
Play = deeply important and meaningful. Sharing in a suspension of disbelief, co-creation of imaginary shared universe - Culture generating.
Pitfalls of Location-Aware
De Souza e Silva & Frith (2010) list 3 main areas of concern:

Privacy/surveillance
Social Exclusion
Possible risk to traditional forms of sociability/communication (tribalization through LMSN)
Discussion:

Many of the issues raised at the end of the article, as well as in the Borland & King (2005) mention of the commercial dimensions of ARGs, touch upon issues we discussed last week.

What additional elements (or concerns) do LSMN add to our notion of privacy (risk, etc.), surveillance, commercialization, corporate appropriation, and changing (or not changing) social relationships?
Shifts in Production
Shifts in Distribution

Death of the Middleman?
Rise of the Curator
We are all
media outlets?

Niche &
Narrow Casting

DIY
Arts & Crafts
The rise of Indie
Of Artisans
and Patrons

Digital Creative
Platforms

We are all "producers"
Micro-financing and crowdfunding
Digital Storefronts
DIY identity politics
Pinterest
DIY vs. UGC
Making vs. customizing vs. curating vs. modifying vs. remixing vs. creating vs. ...?
Arcade Fire's "We Used to Wait" - featured in the "Wilderness Downtown" project: experimental use of Google Chrome, location-based multi-media "web experience" - input the address of the house you grew up in, customize the music video.
"...the Pinterest juggernaut is growing faster than Facebook when it was this size. Investors recently plowed in $27-million only five months after the company raised its previous round of financing. But even those who believe Pinterest is onto something big may not really understand why" (Eyal, 2012 - Globe & Mail article)
"Curation is creation

For a company of its size, Pinterest’s users are creating content at an unprecedented pace. Unlike on Facebook and Twitter, where users have to actually think of new content to post, Pinterest is not about what is happening right now. Users are not prompted to think about “what are you doing?” In fact, they are not prompted to think at all – they are prompted to feel" (Eyal, 2012).
Pinterest and Gender:
Reported that 60% of users are female, aged 22 to 44.

Lot of media attention over the past 2 weeks - much of it either raising the issue of gender (e.g. "it's a woman's thing" - unlike other sites that "emerged from the male-centric world of technology" (Tossell, 2012)), or bemoaning the fact that gender is being raised at all.

Links here with broader post-Industrial feminization of consumption (shopping, adornment, etc. as "feminine").

Are there also parallels between dismissing Pinterest participation as merely shopping, non-creative, etc., with historical devaluing of crafts (vs. arts), women's role in craft traditions (see Gauntlett's history of arts & crafts movement, for example).
Feb. 9, 2012
Today's Agenda
Housekeeping:
SNS Participation: Let's explore Reddit.com
Questions for David Gauntlett (go ahead & ask some!)

Lecture: Etsy, Kickstarter and the "Death" (?) of the Middleman
Or: Shifting Modes (access, norms, models) of Cultural Production and Distribution

DIY - Do it, make it, write it, modify and remix it yourself
From Arts and Crafts to Digital Creative Platforms (Gauntlett)
Case study: Etsy

Artisans and Patrons - the rise of indie media & micro-financing
Case study: Kickstarter (e.g. Indie Game: The Movie)

We Are all Media Outlets & The Death of the Middleman (Shirky)
The question of "niche" media/info and narrowcasting
The rise of the "Curator" (vs. Creator?)
Case study: Pinterest

Class Discussion
http://www.reddit.com/r/SMC300/
Submit links on reddit and you can now file them under the "SMC300" subreddit (tag/folder that lets you add links to a growing list of course related links submitted by SMC300 students & prof).

Thanks to Matt Valenzano for help & advice on using reddit!
Why join reddit?
Joining reddit is easy - figuring it out is a bit tougher
Create an account (no email or personal info required - very easy and immediate - username, password and you're ready to start). Send a message to "smgrimes" so that I can friend you.

Reddit is a sort of crowdsourced news site - users submit links to published articles, blog posts, etc., file them under one or more thematic categories (subreddits), vote and comment. Users can vote a link "up" or "down" - the results of which determine where it appears on the feed (most popular at the top, least popular at the bottom). Subscribe to subreddits to pick which themes (or groups, categories) you're most interested in following.
Making sense of all the data available can be a bit overwhelming (steep learning curve), but submitting a link is VERY easy (so is voting and commenting).

Gives us a tool for sorting all the fantastic articles you guys are linking to on Facebook and other SNS. We can sort them by popularity (as determined by US), rather than temporally...as Matt points out, this will allow us to figure out what the class AS A GROUP finds most interesting, etc.

Also prevents from re-posting the same link twice (tells u it's been posted already - can focus on comments or voting instead of posting redundant links).
Discussion
Shirky argues that historically, the media industries got to "exert considerable control over the media and extract considerable revenues from the public" in exchange for helping overcome complex problems associated with distributing (or "moving") content from creators to consumers. Now that problems of "production, reproduction and distribution are much less serious" - professionals no longer have as much control over content. "We are all media outlets."
This + Idea of niche news, etc., raise an interesting point.

There is still clearly a need for sorting through the copious, ever growing amount of content now available. We can do it ourselves. We rely on our networks. We use tools provided to us in SNS to file, categorize, sort and stream (e.g. +subscribe, playlists, groups/circles, lists, bookmarking, tagging, hashtagging, etc. etc.).
"Fig.2 Information spread in online social networks. Our study suggests that strong ties are similar and more likely to be tuned into the same web sites. Weak ties, being more dissimilar, tend to visit different websites" (Eytan Bakshy/Facebook Study, 2012).
Concern that increased personalization and customization could aggrevate the "echo chamber effect" or "confirmation bias" - the theory that people tend to seek out and remember information that is consistent with their existing beliefs. Also - if users are only exposed to info they have pre-selected as being interested in, will that overly limit what they hear/see?

And/or if content is created and posted specifically for a very specialized/niche group, who and what is excluded?
Of course - this phenomenon (and surrounding concerns) are hardly new. People have sought out confirmation of beliefs, received large % of their news and information from personal networks, selected particular news channels over others, etc., for years.

+ Underlying assumption here that traditional news outlets always fair, balanced and comprehensive. But many stories & perpectives omitted, many studies demonstrate news channels/papers exhibit bias (political, class, etc.) in their selection and presentaiton of news stories.
Shirky describes the power of distributed news networks produced by a new, diverse "ecosystem" that includes formal organizations, as well as informal groups, individuals. Not just about re-posting (or how many times a story is re-posted), but the power of crowds to fact check, contextualize, add specialized knowledge, highlight news items overlooked by traditional industries, etc.
Now that SNS is so popular, are we really that isolated from different views, values, interests, etc.? E.g. Facebook study
We also turn to specific people and organizations for guidance.
The rise and spread of digital curation as a valued skill, source of social capital, object of trust and loyalty. Some "professional" (either official or unofficial part of their work), others amateur.

E.g. Boing Boing (for particular type of daily news). Tavi Gevinson's blog for fashion/trend watching. My friend Jono for tips on new bands.
What is the role of curators? Who assumes it? How do we value it, acknowledge it, think about it? In labour terms? In terms of taste theory (e.g. Pierre Bourdieu)? As a type of creativity?
Indie movie about the indie games industry, created by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot (from Winnipeg), with soundtrack by indie musician Jim Guthrie.

Just won best editing/documentary at Sundance.
Glowing reviews. Optioned by HBO for a regular series.
From the film's official "About" page: "Indie Game: The Movie has been significantly supported by the online community through two successful Kickstarter campaigns.

The project launched in May 2010 on Kickstarter. The film raised its initial goal [$15,000] in 48 hours. In June 2011, the filmmakers reached out to the community again through Kickstarter with another pre-order campaign to help with finishing costs of the film. The response was overwhelming. This time, the community helped the production reach its goal in just over 24 hours. The campaign closed with over 200% of its goal."
Buy/Support Local Artisans
Culture, media, news, information
Do it yourself.
E.g. Ele Carpenter's (2005) Open Source Embroidery project highlights the overlaps between embroidery and computer code, including a tradition of "open source" sharing of how the artifact was made.
©2005 Ele Carpenter
Uncovering links to prior movements, practices, where handmade and amateur produced cultural artifacts were central (making them and consuming them).
Examples post Industrialization/ rise of mass produced goods.
Establishes important continuities between digital and material/physical. Not all online and offline creations will share the same traditions and properties, but many do. What's similar (and different) about creating an online scrapbook and making one out of paper and glue?
Gauntlett encourages us to move beyond just discussing form to also think about the processes involved. E.g. creativity, making connections with others, sharing, learning, building social capital, etc.
Also encourages us to examine these things as more than "technology"-related phenomena. So often framed in terms of tech-emphasis and as "new"...but there are other traditions, practices and processes to consider. Gauntlett outlines an alternative history within which to contextualize much (*not all*) of the current interest in user produced content online.
Think back to previous discussions of how these user contributions can be thought of as a form of immaterial labour. Based on modern notions of labour, measured in units of time/effort rather than outcome...in fact workers are here seen as alienated from the products of their labour. Perhaps more useful is the artisan model (pre-modern and contemporary - still exists in many domains) - where the work is not rationalized, product non-alienated, outcome is key.
If everyone has the means of production & distribution, control over these no longer bestows special privileges enjoyed by factory owner, media mogul, studio head...which included setting prices (to incl. overhead, etc.), establishing what % the creator would get of the profits, as well as supporting production. Middleman but also financier, promoter, infrastructure engineer, etc.

Without the middleman, who determines the value of cultural texts and artifacts?
Who will support creators through the process of creation? Who are the new patrons? Do we need patrons?
Gauntlett (2011): Making digital content is "like craft in the tinkering, weaving, 'from the ground up' experience of making something; and it's also like craft in that the maker imprints some of their character upon the work, and its audience are likely to sense their 'presence'" (p.81).
Web 2.0 has led to a massive explosion in production and sharing of this content (and associated experience of connection). Gauntlett highlights the importance of digital creative platforms in this shift (e.g. Youtube). "Web applications which encourage people to make and share things are often not very specific tools, as such, but are broad platforms...[a] kind of stage which they offer for creative performance" (p.88).
3 characteristics of "digital creative platforms"
Framework for participation
Agnostic about content
Fostering community
Different way of thinking about all of the content people produce and share through their social networks. Not merely as interactions between people, or as data being mined, but as a form of cultural production/creative output.

The idea that our culture is increasingly "interactive" and customized implies activity and agency on our part. How do we understand the participatory processes involved in SNS?
Gauntlett (2011) - reveals linkages between user created content and DIY culture. Both in terms of the ways in which crafters and DIY communities are using social networking and other online tools to connect and amplify their activities; as well as in terms of the ways in which producing digital content can itself be seen as a kind of DIY, a type of craft, a form of creativity.
Uses an expanded definition of creativity:
"Everyday creativity refers to a process which brings together at least one active mind, and the material or digital world, in the activity of making something which is novel in that context, and is a process which evokes a feeling of joy" (p. 76).
Within and alongside amateur production = professional or aspiring creators striving to connect w/ audience and markets.
We are all makers of culture and distributors of culture, but we are also still consumers, readers, audiences...albeit, oftentimes these roles are performed (experienced) in parallel.

A third dimension of the rise/merger of DIY + SNS is how it (potentially) changes our role as consumer. Consumer of DIY, of independently produced, DIY, handmade, ethical, non-traditional, non-mass produced goods & services.
Gauntlett refers to this on p.61 - "since the start of the present century - and obviously these are rough and blurred movements, not clear-cut phases - enthusiasm and respect for homemade things have risen again." Talking about making things yourself - but extends to "buy local," the current popularity of craft fairs, some aspects of ethical consumption, and tie into identity/performance issues as well.
Kickstarter keeps 5% of the total (for successful projects) Amazon Payments takes 3 to 5%. The project creator keeps the rest and retains 100% ownership and creative control (Kahan, 2012).
Kickstarter - success story of crowdfunding, though many projects don't succeed in securing the funding requested (current estimates = around 46% do) (Ovshinsky, 2012).
The ways in which these trends apply to media are ambiguous and complex. Unique market structure and traditional production models (plural - different media have different norms). Also, clear tensions with notion of "free culture" and p2p practices. Industry push back and lack of sustainability.
Here too, trend toward independent production flows into market. The rise of "indie" as corporate ethos (or, in some cases, just a branding strategy) and alternative (perhaps transitory) models in response to shifts in power/access/norms.
Revisiting last week's final Qs: Pinterest: curation, customization, UGC and DIY - creative practices? on a creativity continuum?

Games (and game play) as "assemblage," as "mangle," as creative/creating. As messy categories

Social networks of play and/or social networks of production (technology as entrypoint/gatekeeper)

Hand back Assignment 1. Talk about Assignment 2.
Agenda
Feb. 16, 2012
Social Networks of Fandom
Skyrim meets the Bronies
Modding
UGC Games
SDK, Beta Testing, Community Support
Designing
Indie Games
Indie Game Industry,
Indie Games + Industry

From "Scene" to
Social Network

The Production of culture
Social Networks of Play
Gaming Consoles
as SNS
Problematizing the "player"
Rules of the Game
Assignment 2
New due date: Week 9
Mid-term paper 30%
1,800-2,500 words (magazine article length)
Topic of your choice - must be relevant to this course (obviously).
8 academic sources minimum, incl. at least 4 SMC300 course readings (at least 2 original).
Looking for QUALITY over quantity - so be sure to make EVERY WORD COUNT.
Non-commercial User-generated Content
29.21 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for an individual to use an existing work or other subject-matter or copy of one, which has been published or otherwise made available to the public, in the creation of a new work or other subject-matter in which copyright subsists and for the individual — or, with the individ-ual’s authorization, a member of their household — to use the new work or other subject-matter or to authorize an intermediary to disseminate it, if
(a) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter is done solely for non-commercial purposes;
(b) the source — and, if given in the source, the name of the author, performer, maker or broadcaster — of the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it are mentioned, if it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so;
(c) the individual had reasonable grounds to believe that the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it, as the case may be, was not infringing copyright; and
(d) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter does not have a substantial adverse effect, financial or otherwise, on the exploitation or potential exploitation of the existing work or other subject-matter — or copy of it — or on an existing or potential market for it, including that the new work or other subject-matter is not a substitute for the existing one.
Bill C-11
Definitions of these terms and what they entail, as well as opinions about what the differences between them might be (if any), have long been in flux. Not stable categories, though formalized in various ways through popular discourse, cultural norms, laws and regulation, industry standards, etc.
Important because how we think about these things informs which activities are deemed legitimate, significant, valuable. Philosophical and pragmatic implications.
From Making to Playing and back again
Martin & Deuze (2009): "One of the most important aspects of technology in independent game development is the role that network technologies and digital distribution have in allowing for a diversity of content to reach the market. For [indie] developers, the internet allows direct access to consumers..." (p.280).
Martin & Deuze (2009) "Digital distribution has a significant influence in shaping the structure and identity of indie game development" (p.280). e.g. file sizes reduced for enhanced accessibility, sacrificing graphics and audio. Result is an emphasis on abstractions, game mechanics, concept, story, etc. Games as art.
Distribution shapes content
©2009 Daniel Benmergui "Today I Die"
Taylor (2002): "It takes a player to create a character and it takes the time of the player to develop the character. Through their labor they imbue it with qualities, status, accomplishments. Indeed, while the owners of a game provide the raw materials through which users can participate in a space, it is in large part only through the labor of the players that dynamic identities and characters are created, that culture and community come to grow" (p.232).
Magic circle
Huizinga (play theorist) talks about play occuring in a "magic circle" which separates the game/activity being played from the "serious" of everyday life (work, consequences, money, etc.) Circle is drawn in time and space, temporarily. Inside the circle, a new, made-up set of rules are followed - to which everyone "buys in" voluntarily for the duration of the game (can be negotiated, of course).
Play = deeply important and meaningful. Sharing in a suspension of disbelief, co-creation of imaginary shared universe - Culture generating.
©2009 Wired, Ensidia guild World of Warcraft
"Social" and casual games on SNS, web-enabled portable devices
Web-enabled console games
Online multiplayer PC games, incl. MMOGs
Digital games, and gamer communities, provide a compelling case study for exploring many of the issues raised last week, while introducing unique dimensions and relationships worthy of examination in their own right (e.g. complex nature of play).
Play is often understood to be (or at least include) a creative practice. Lots of slippage within gamer culture between play and creation, and within game development between play and production. Industry relies heavily on independent producers, immaterial labor of players, ongoing control over distribution when it comes to gaming consoles. Indie scene is thriving. Gamers are a particularly empowered group (noteworthy).
Limor Fried (Lady Ada): Electrical engineer, owner of Adafruit Industries, gamer, leader in open source hardware. In 2010, put out an Open Source Kinect Challenge - $1K (then $2K) to the first person to unlock the Xbox360 Kinect's motion sensors for tinkering/repurposing.

Microsoft condemned the challenge, Fried raised the prize to $3K. Lots of attention and accolades, & eventually Microsoft got on board - both with Limor Fried's challenge and broader movement to "hack" their devices.
LittleBigPlanet - on PlayStation3 and PlayStation Portable. Made by Media Molecule. First released in 2008 - now includes 5 different titles. Broad assortment of UGC and customization tools included + support (tech, content managment, moderation, etc.).
Over 5 million player-made levels
For some games/companies: Reliance on player contributions and participation at various levels.
Beta - playtesting.
Modding communities - R&D, identifying new talent.
Wikis & walkthroughs - community support, collaborative instruction manuals, generating game "lore."
Think back to last week's discussion of indie games:
XBox360 Live for Android
Martin & Deuze (2009) apply a "production of culture framework" developed by Peterson & Anand (2004) that focuses on how culture (texts, symbols, meaning) is "shaped by the systems within which they are created, distributed, evaluated, taught, and preserved" (cited on p.280).
Describe 5 key domains which creative professionals use, develop and give meaning (to the product, but also to their own role(s) in these processes):
technology
laws and regulation
industrial and organizational structure
occupational careers
markets
Conclude that the role of indie game development is "dual" and complex...at times contradictory. "On one hand, digital distribution and a proliferation of cheap or free middleware allows for a greater diversity of voices in the production of culture. However, in an industry that is already rapidly rearranging itself to address expanding markets and broadening audience demographics...the so-called indie alternative model has also become a playground of fairly typical and mainstream values and practices [found] across studios large and small" (p.290).
As mentioned in Martin & Deuze (and as seen in the Lady Ada example above), the open source movement is alive & well in game culture.

+Many (though certainly not all) developers release Software Development Kits (SDK) enabling the creation of certain modifications and applications for particular game software packages.
Ongoing negotiation and re-negotiation of the system seems in line with game playing more generally - finding, bending, breaking the rules.
As in other areas we've looked at, however, current push to limit this negotiation by restricting user rights. e.g. Bill C-11 also contains a digital locks super-clause that would give the cultural industries even more control over how hardware and software is used (and trump the user rights discussed earlier).
Ideas for paper topics:
A discussion of Raynes-Goldie's proposal that younger users prioritize a different type of privacy than others.
An examination of the sudden rise in interest (and gender debate) around Pinterest, and what this says about current popular perceptions of curation and consumption.
An overview of the arguments for and against SOPA or Bill C-11
A critical engagement with existing definitions of online "social networking" (can include expansion and modification to create a new definition).
A meditation on the role of "creativity" in SNS (and/or problematizing the idea that making is as prevalent as Gauntlett and Grimes would have you believe).
As in other areas, current emphasis on DIY - various events, tools and support for learning game design. e.g. Game Jams, Gamestar Mechanic, Quest to Learn.
More people making games, easier access to distribution, micro-financing, broad community support, etc.
The Politics of Platforms
©2012 macleans.ca
Player as active
Player as consumer
Player as user
Player as producer

There is no game without gameplay
Feb. 24, 2016
Agenda
Fans, fan networks: meta-participation, transmedia intertextuality

Cultural capital and social capital

Media-based fandom, fan tributes and derivative works show up throughout our creative SNF platforms. Today we're going to focus on how to understand these practices, at the level of meaning making and personal motivation.
"We are an army of fans, activists, nerdfighters, teenagers, wizards and muggles dedicated to fighting for social justice with the greatest weapon we have-- love. Join us!"
Founded in June 2005 by Andrew Slack, our Executive Director, and Paul DeGeorge of Harry and the Potters. They and other members of the Board of Directors heavily involved in online Harry Potter fandom (fan fiction sites, discussion forums, tribute bands, etc.).
Community of over 100, 000 members, 60 local chapters worldwide.
"Spike Jonze’s feature film rendition of Maurice Sendak's classic story "Where The Wild Things Are" has hit movie theaters worldwide. The film represents years of work from hundreds of different artists, writers, photographers, musicians, actors, and creators of all degrees. This place has been established to help shed some light on many of the small influences that converged to make this massive project a reality...."
http://weloveyouso.com/
©2009 Ruets, Spurn and Ewsoe
Very cool design blog that included posts on a variety of fan activities. Blurs distinctions between fan's own participatory culture and more contrived forms of guerrilla marketing.
Recent campaign: "Not in Harry's Name" - putting pressure on Warner Brothers to only use Fair Trade chocolate in HP licensed chocolate/candies (chocolate trade linked to child labor & trafficking). Previous: Accio Books book drive to build a library for a school in NY state. Last year they collected 41,415 books, which they donated to local communities.
Just one example of the dedication and breadth of the Harry Potter fan community. Online presence is strong. Front and centre in the academic discussions of fandom/cultural participation; frontlines of the copyright debates and actual legal disputes.
Illustrative example of growing trend = to not only support but tap into (& benefit from) fan activity as a way of fostering brand identity, orchestrating viral and guerrilla marketing strategies), exhibiting cultural and social capital... "in" with the community.
Recurring theme of "love," self-identity, community and personal attachment within fan networks and discourses. Lovemarks - marketing theory about the intense, dedicated relationship people can develop towards brands, media, etc.
All is Love
"The materials of popular culture may become raw materials for our creative expression, vehicles for exploring aspects of our own personalities, and shared points of reference to facilitate social interaction. Anthropologists and historians look at artifacts as materials that encapsulate the values and practices of another culture. We can look at the contents of mass media as artifacts that help us to better understand our own culture. In both cases, though, deciphering an artifact’s meanings is a complex process, because the same artifact may serve multiple purposes, operate in multiple contexts, and become invested with multiple meanings." Reproduced from Henry Jenkins’ (2000) Children’s Culture Study Guide (URL: http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/resourceguide.html)
Media as Source? Yes! But keep this in mind:
In many of the the concepts discussed in this week's readings: emotion, feeling, personal relationships, family bonds, preferences, choices, sense of self and belonging....all play key role in what makes processes work.
Tendency to instrumentalize this dimension of personal experience in academia. See Coleman's inability to stray too far from economic rationale for why people build/sustain social capital. i.e. struggle to accept that sometimes people don't merely act in self-interest, but "because they believe it's a good thing to do" (Gauntlett, 2011, p.134).
©2011 Jon Swope "Princess Vader"
Refers to the numerous ancillary texts and activities created and distributed by users/audiences/readers/players themselves. These include fan sites, informal “guilds,” machinima, player-made maps, cosplay, fanfiction, media-based wikis - practices, texts and objects that are inspired by exiting media, but generated outside/above, & increasingly shared/performed on a large scale (i.e. online, via SNS, etc.).
In addition to extending the experience beyond the confines of the “source”/original text or context, these materials also function as “paratexts” which help “shape the reader’s experience of a text” and “give meaning to the act of reading” (Consalvo, 2007, p.9).
These types of fan practices are not necessarily universal (indeed, far from it) but they are *illustrative* (albeit perhaps a bit extreme) of the interpretive and transformative power we retain in our interactions with corporately-produced cultural artifacts.
Meta-Participation
Participatory Culture,
i.e. Culture Generating Practice
Key: This is not simply an involved way of consuming media, but demonstrative of the active role of the "reader" in constructing the text, generating meaning and experience that surrounds culturally shared texts/artifacts.
Networked participatory cultural practices (e.g. fan-made game wikis, Tumblr tags) are a type of "communal interactive action [that] constructs and develops a coherent narrative database" (Booth, 2009, p.373). Booth proposes the term "narractivity" to describe what these fans are engaged in.
According to Booth, these practices reform the telling of a narrative - both in terms of fans own interpretations (and reinterpretations) of narrative events, but also in terms of their interactions with other fan interpretations (i.e. the social, the fan network, the collaborative/communal generation of story, norms, "canon," etc.)
This type of participation generates & is generated by “Transmedia intertextuality,” which Kinder (1991) describes as, “a means of structuring characters, genres, voices and visual conventions into paradigms, and models for interpreting and generating new combinations” (p.35).

Relies heavily on audience/user participation, which can in turn be seen as generating cultural meaning (beyond individual/small-group experience)
In their most engaging (successful) incarnations, properties purposefully attempting to foster transmedia intertextuality provide multiple and ambiguous openings for user participation. The narratives of these properties are often complex, flexible and multi-faceted. The property owners foster and allow various types of UGC, shared/collaborative interpretation and sense-making, discussion and meta-participation (e.g. Where the Wild Things' "We Love You So" blog, fan-made HP Alliance).

Fans + industry collaboration of sorts.
Choices, preferences and knowledge about cultural texts/artifacts/practices serve as sources of cultural capital (think of trend setters, early adopters) – a way of distinguishing ourselves from others.
Cultural Capital
These activities aren't simply about loving a book & engaging in communal storytelling. They are also "public" (i.e. networked, online) and performative - contributing to a larger, shared culture with community at large, or to a smaller subculture of like-minded people (which can include original producers, etc.).
Cultural participation - about inserting oneself more explicitly into our SHARED culture. Drive to contribute to deeply important dimension of life (caring), but also involves questions of identity and position within that culture.
“Affinity spaces” (James Paul Gee): spaces within which shared endeavors or interests occur as its starting point, rather than focusing too specifically on defining or labelling a particular group of people as belonging to a particular “community” based on traditional criteria (geography, attending the same university, etc.).

Not just about niche interests or exclusive subcultures, however (research on online affinity spaces shows they):
enable people of various skill levels to participate
adapt a core organization through interaction
encourage the development and sharing of knowledge (while valuing different types/levels of knowledge)
incl. various ways to gain status and leadership
open to many different forms of participation
Social Capital
Related to cultural capital, but also more overlap with our ongoing discussion of social networks and broader societal impacts....social capital. Contested & evolving term.
The big name/theorist here is Bourdieu (1986). Gauntlett (2011) provides several definitions in Chapter 6.
Putnam: Essence of social capital = "social networks have value". Our relationships and contacts with other people boost our happiness, health, productivity as individuals and as a group... and contribute to civic engagement (most important element for Putnam).
Two forms of social capital:
Bridging social capital: draws people in, embraces diversity, makes links between different people and groups (Gauntlett, p.139).

Bonding social capital: more exclusive, ties similar/like-minded people together (Gauntlett, p.139).
Produced through various activities and associations - civic engagement, townhall meetings, volunteering....
But ALSO leisure activities and socializing (e.g. bowling)
Internet and Social Capital
At the time of writing (Bowling Alone), Putnam was optimistic but unconvinced that SNS/web would replenish social capital. Gauntlett points out many ways SNS foster both bridging and bonding social capital. Highlights that for most, it is NOT a replacement for face-to-face interactions, as Putnam supposed.
Bowling Alone Revisited
Gauntlett doesn't mention Putnam's more recent work, but since Bowling Alone, he has continued to investigate social capital and civic engagement among Americans. Recent article (with Sander) highlights a rise in civic engagement among American youth in the post 9/11 period.

Same timeframe as rise in SNS.
While many of our readings this week highlight the importance and value of "cultural capital," there is arguably still a tendency within society to prioritize "social capital" activities that enhance civic engagement, job prospects, etc.
Why is that, do you think?
Discussion
Putnam doesn't (necessarily) link SNS use with self-reported rise in youth saying that keeping up to date with political affairs is "very important" (see chart above).
Bourdieu: "Social capital is the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition" (pp.9-10).


Coleman: social capital is one of many resources a person can use (along with skills, money) - not "owned" but available as a standing reserve. Source of support, useful source of information, facilitates particular actions, based on trust and shared values, community (Gauntlett, p.133).
In class terms, capital mobilized as cultural signifier – align oneself with higher classes, distinguish oneself from lower classes (think middle class practice of kids taking classical piano lessons, ballet – markers of high culture, etc.) (see Bourdieu recommended reading).

Different types of alignments happening today...
Mobilizing cultural capital

Parallel academic theories: "affect" (emotion/feeling) and affective relationships (emotional, personal, tied to caring and identity)
Media-based form of participatory culture.
Overlaps with narrative theories in compelling ways...enduring questions of the author, the reader, meaning making, etc. Esp. the case when studying digitized, networked participatory cultures.
Directly linked to cultural capital, e.g. notion of "habitus" - how classes reproduce themselves (in terms of culture, social norms, expectations, gender roles, etc.). e.g. old boys' club.
Here, Social capital = "connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them" (cited in Gauntlett, p.138), which in turn nurtures civic engagement.
Combined, fans' networking residues produce
an archive
of material, of narrative events (kernels & satellites), and of possibilities (theories, OTPs, slash fiction). It is boundless yet spatially constructed. The story it tells is non-linear: unfolds as individual journeys/juxtapositions.
Occurs in two ways:
1) (re)"construction of narrative knowledge" (p.373)
2) "deconstruction of narrative meaning" (p.374)
On the Facebook page for this class, we've been talking a lot about negative effects (alleged and established) of using social media, and making comparisons between online and offline interactions. But is that always the trade-off? Do all online interactions really supplant and eliminate an opportunity for offline socializing? (Think about Putman's concerns here about (pre-SNS) trends toward "bowling alone" - i.e. NOT engaging socially).
Q:
Q:
Q:
With the rise and spread of participatory culture online (both in terms of participation rates and visibility), media producers are now often expected to have some sort of strategy in mind for how to mobilize, foster and/or regulate fan activities. Can you think of some recent examples of media properties that did particularly well (or poorly) in their approach to fandoms and transmedia intertextuality?

How do you think this relationship is changing media production? And how is it changing media consumption?
Full transcript