Social Media Participation

 

One of the concepts that captured my interest was the idea of the networked self and the many facets that play into how a person portrays themselves online when compared with their “real life” persona. Technology itself wouldn’t be enabled without people; it needs us to function and work.

If you consider it, we are a customer of sorts in using social media and the Internet. Without the people who tweet on Twitter and if no one used Facebook, the “product” (or social media itself) would serve no purpose, it would just be sitting there. Because people use it (most likely daily), interact with one another, and dedicate a reasonable amount of their time to it, it has value. For many people, social media is what they start and end their day with. It’s been integrated into our lives as a part of us, as we put little bits of information, photos, etc. on different medias and use them to interact with one another. It provides a sense of participation and community.

In Convergence Culture, Jenkins discusses the new ways in which convergence has opened doors for participation and collaboration, and social media in general. He ends his conclusion with the sentiment: “Welcome to convergence culture, where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways…Consumers will be more powerful within convergence culture—but only if they recognize and use that power as both consumers and citizens, as full participants in our culture” (270).

So do those who use social media really participate in anything? Or are we under the illusion that we feel like we’re contributing or participating in something? Will social media always be used for just social aspects, or will we continue to add more and innovate it for other purposes?

Source:

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York UP, 2006. 270. Print.

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To Stream Or Not To Stream?

So I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan; I have been since I was about 12/13 and I still am. A couple years ago there was a big stir when Taylor Swift took her songs off of Spotify, which is a music streaming site/app/etc. Initially, I was a bit disappointed too. I already owned all her music via physical copy and on my iPod and phone, but I was constantly using Spotify and it was conveniently there. Who wouldn’t want that, right? A free streaming site that lets you listen to virtually any kind of music you want. It sounds like a dream come true. Then Taylor Swift explained why she took this course of action to the Business Insider by saying, “I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.” She also decided not to include her newest album 1989 on Apple Music since artists’ don’t receive any payment for the first three month trial (which most users would be using).  In her open letter to Apple, she explained, “This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”

Taylor Swift’s songs can still be found to listen to, illegally without payment, of course. Those who are desperate can find pitch-changed, badly edited versions all over YouTube. As we learned, copyright is used as a form of protection on a work. If someone feels that they and the people involved worked hard on something and deserve the due credit and ability to choose how their work is distributed, I think that is a completely valid choice. What I admire most about her decision not to engage with free streaming or unpaid programs is that it’s helping the newer, struggling artists more in the long run. The music business is tricky and laws about copyright can easily become muddled. Any big artist working toward helping the underdog is headed in the right direction, in my opinion.

Visibility vs. Privacy.

I’ve never really taken the time to consider how visible I am online. How out there my thoughts, ideas, photos, and information could be to anyone who wants to know more about me. I’ve thought about it before, but it was more of a “Why would anyone really care? It’s not like I plaster my address and social security number up for all to see.” In a nutshell, I figured no one besides friends and family would really care about my online presence. When I google my full name not much comes up, only a link to my Google+ which I have nothing displayed on. Although when I google my “nickname” and surname, a few of my photos appear in Google images along with a link to my Twitter and the articles that I’ve written for different online internships. What is slightly off putting are the images that appear in Google images, as some of them were my Twitter profile photo for a short time but aren’t anymore, which means they somehow got saved to the archives. I don’t really understand how all the technicalities work concerning posting, privacy, etc. and maybe I should. Maybe we all should. When we post something and decide to delete it a day later or even minutes later, many people may assume that means it’s deleted, gone, forever. But in those mere minutes it can be saved, distributed, archived, and you deleting it off your profile, app, or page doesn’t really change much. I like to think I’m smart about what I post. I have my Facebook settings fairly private for just friends to see, especially photos and statuses. I don’t post anything private, vulgar, inappropriate, etc. on Twitter or Instagram since I have those accessible to anyone. I try to keep it all organised and clean. I think it’s a fine line between maintaining a healthy online presence and putting too much of yourself out there.

 

Working It Out (Together)

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Photo credit: http://www.omnida.co.uk/fitness/

This particular community is not one that I engage with myself–the fitness community. It is one that people can encounter on a variety of different media platforms. One that I’m most familiar with is through Instagram, but can easily be found on YouTube, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc. My roommate back in the states was an avid follower of all things fitness and health. She even made an Instagram fitness account and now has over 1,500 followers. One of the most prevalent people currently in the fitness world is Kayla Itsines, who has her own website, app, and over 4.5 million Instagram followers. Through platforms and apps, like Instagram, users who are part of Kayla’s fitness program can connect with one another and provide encouragement and inspiration. People can share the healthy meals they’ve made and post photos to update their progress since they started working out or eating healthier. Using hashtags to connect with people in the same fitness program or regime can create even smaller communities within a main community. Some challenges and limitations could be the way in which people present their progress. It can be intimidating to others who are earlier in their fitness journey, or it could create more pressure in the community to feel like there are certain requirements to meet. Overall, it’s a community focused on encouraging peoples’ pursuits and helping all involved to become healthier, happier individuals.

Audience Shaping the News

As we discussed last week in the module, modern day media allows everyday people to play a large role in the news. From posting about what they’ve seen or even posting a photo or video of something that just happened, citizens are now able to break the news before large news networks or trained journalists. This leaves room for error and false information to be spread, but it also gives everyday people a power and a voice they’ve never had before. This article  by Mashable titled ‘9 Breaking News Tweets That Changed Twitter Forever’ discusses the different times that news was spread on Twitter before it spread through major media conglomerates. One of the examples that stood out to me was from 2008 when China experienced an earthquake that people across the world read about on Twitter before it was officially confirmed. While this doesn’t offer people a 100%, foolproof coverage of news, it influences the way we hear and receive information in the present. Often when a news story breaks on television or online, the report will refer back to the tweets that broke the story or were spread around the most quickly. A more recent example is the Boston Marathon bombings (as well as the shooting in Paris, like we discussed in class), which were posted about on Twitter minutes after the explosions. It blurs the lines between audience vs. participant, journalist vs. citizen, news vs. speculation. It also brings us to question what this means for the future of journalism and how to ensure news can be spread in the most accurate, unbiased way possible.

Converging Through Instagram

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In Convergence Culture, Jenkins discusses the new ways in which convergence has opened doors for participation and collaboration, and social media in general, and especially Instagram, is a prime example of this. Instagram serves as an example of the consumer becoming the producer through making posts, showcasing products, and making a profit that’s sometimes lofty enough for the person to make a living off of it. Jenkins’ ends his conclusion with the sentiment: “Welcome to convergence culture, where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways…Consumers will be more powerful within convergence culture—but only if they recognize and use that power as both consumers and citizens, as full participants in our culture” (270). In this respect, the old and new media colliding is the exposure companies get through users’ accounts, as well as the use of photos to display something or get a certain idea across. The user, sometimes part of a business already but sometimes just an average Joe who gained a lot of followers because of their content, act as the “grassroots” with the brand or company who they’re endorsing is the corporate media. Examples of this are Instagrams that usually revolve around things like fitness or fashion. One Instagram account by Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) has gained a following of over 4.5 million followers all due to her fitness program that she developed. This is a prime example of convergence.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York UP, 2006. 251-270. Print.

Social Networking Globally

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One thing that’s always been of importance to media is its ability to reach a large group of people with information that an audience wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Media allows news, photos, websites, etc. to transcend borders and allow people to be connected on a global scale. A blog called Vincosblog made a blog post back in August 2015 where they created their own map of the world highlighting which social media network was the most popular for each country. This map shows Facebook as the lead social network in terms of being the most prevalent. The blog then went on to make a second map that shows which networks would be most prevalent if Facebook hadn’t been created. The runner-up was, not surprisingly, Instagram.

What the second map also goes to show is that many countries in Latin America and Africa, without Facebook, would have none of the other social media networks mentioned. This brings into question how Facebook has become so global, while other networks have not. What does this mean for those countries? How will this social media network change over the coming years? It’s also interesting to see different networks that are prevalent in other parts of the world, such as V Kontakte in Russia, which I myself have never even heard of. This shows how developments in other parts of the world may be obsolete for some, but are serving the same purpose in social networking for those in that region.