Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube – 9/22

“In the age of YouTube, social networking emerges as one of the important social skills and cultural competencies that young people need to acquire if they are going to become meaningful participants in the culture around them. We need to be concerned with the participation gap as much as we are concerned with the digital divide.”

I found this to be interesting because there have been many times this has become a barrier between the generation of old media vs our generation of new media. I have been interviewed several times for any kind of job and almost always they ask for things like what programs do I know how to use, what software I have, and how active I am on social media. Whenever I apply for a marketing job, they always ask to follow my social media platforms. I rarely ever think that what I’m posting actually has such an impact, but it definitely does. One man hired me because of my Instagram and the people that I was able to reach out to and how many people followed me and what I was posting.

“It’s Complicated” – 9/13

“Though almost sixty years had passed since the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public high schools is unconstitutional, most American high schools that I encountered organized themselves around race and class through a variety of social, cultural, economic, and political forces. The borders of school districts often produce segregated schools as a byproduct of de facto neighborhood segregation. Students find themselves in particular classrooms—or on academic tracks—based on test scores, and these results often correlate with socioeconomic status. Friend groups are often racially and economically homogenous, which translates into segregated lunchrooms and segregated online communities”

This was something that I could relate to because I felt like this is something that hasn’t changed yet. In my high school everything seemed to be segregated by imaginary borders. Although it wasn’t technically segregation, it definitely felt like it. We always sat in specific seats that showed who our friend group was. Generally the most wealthy were known to be the most popular because they had the newest clothes, shoes, and were up to date on all the fads. I remembered that all the parties had the same people and you knew exactly where you belonged. There was a part of me that knew that this was how it was always going to be. I knew that things weren’t going to change until I left and was able to recreate myself in college. Don’t get me wrong – I really didn’t mind where I was socially but I know that there were several people who would beat themselves up for not being “cool” and would do the most desperate things to hopefully achieve social acceptance in a group.

“The most explicit manifestation of racial segregation was visible to me in schools like Keke’s, where gangs play a central role in shaping social life. Her experiences with race and turf are common in her community.
The resulting dynamics organize her neighborhood and infiltrate her school. When I first visited Keke’s school, I was initially delighted by how diverse and integrated the school appeared to be.”

When I first read this I didn’t realize how it’s possible for all of this to be controlled. But the answer is that it can’t be controlled because wealth, society, and class is something that you’re born into. It’s not her fault that she goes to the school that she does and is in the group that she is in. It’s probably just where she is most comfortable. No matter how diverse it is, there will always be social categories. I remember when a lot of the “unpopular people” would avoid the cafeteria as much as possible. They would scatter around the hallways, sit outside, or even in their cars just to avoid certain people. It’s crazy to see how people view high school in different social categories. It’s as if we’re living different lives but going to all the same classes. In Keke’s case, the gangs are the ones that shaped social life, but for me, the JAPS were the ones that ran the social scene. 


Competitive Photography and the Presentation of the Self – 9/8

“The same can be said about his predictions about photography—although today we may not even realize that we all are photographers, as taking and sharing images often is seamlessly integrated within work and leisure contexts, and our everyday behavior. We can speak of a certain democratization of the medium—much of the knowledge and skills that earlier were in the hands of professionals, specially trained individuals who also had access to exclusive equipment, now are available to non-professionals. Yet making “good” pictures still requires a certain amount of leisure time and dedication.”

I found this idea to be particularly interesting because in a way we took away jobs from people who are used for their photography, but also in another way, technology opened up an entirely new talent and recognition for even more people. For example, the simple idea of a wedding photographer has become less of a job because there are so many photographers just on Instagram that now you can just ask a photographer via Social Media if they would want to take pictures for you. This idea also reminds me of what a micro celebrity is – someone that is trying to be famous based off of their dedication. I think this is a similar concept to us being non-photographers because we aren’t all looking to be photographers but get noticed for taking good pictures. 

“The majority of Instagram authors capture and share photos that are of interest to the author, her/his friends and family, and perhaps expanded circle of acquaintances, as opposed to complete strangers. These authors are not trying to get tens of thousands of followers, nor do they share only their very best photos. Instead, they use Instagram for documentation and communication with people they know (Fig. 3). They may be happy if their photos get many “likes” and they do not mind getting more people to follow them and comment on their photos—but this is not their primary purpose. And just as with non-competitive family snapshots in the middle of the 20th century, the main value of Instagram’s non-competitive photos is emotional rather than aesthetic”

This part of the article connects with me a lot because this is exactly why I post pictures on Instagram. My sole purpose is to either communicate things that I’ve been up to with my friends and family or to document my life with pictures that I enjoy. I know several of my other friends care too much about their “grid” and whether or not a picture is acceptable to the public eye. I really never understood why it matters what you post as long as you want to. I never put too much thought into my pictures as much as some of my other friends. However, the people that I know care about what other people think about them do everything for likes. There have been instances where people buy food, take pictures, and then don’t even eat the food. There have also been instances where they would post a picture and then delete it because it didn’t get enough like. I wonder how much Instagram effects people’s self confidence?

“By not displaying the author’s face, these photos clearly signal their goal—to show person’s participation in a situation or an experience. By including a part of the body of a person who is in this situation / experience cut by a frame, a photo includes you in the experience. You are not the disembodied eye observing the world from the distance as in Renaissance perspective, but the body that is part of the pictured world. “

While looking through my Instagram feed and trying to distinguish competitive and non-competitive users, I found this statement to be the easiest give away. For celebrities and musicians, I noticed that they often had several pictures of themselves and where they are in the world and what they are doing. For professional Instagram photographers, they often took pictures of other images and other people. What I noticed was the consistency. I saw that the professionals generally had a constant theme whether it be the way they edit their pictures, what they are taking pictures of or who was in their pictures. I realized that I would only unfollow professional photographers when their pictures were no longer recognizable or in touch with my likes.

SelfieCity – 9/5

“Writing about media interface presentations and their relation to larger cultural trends is tricky. Different elements are constantly added, changed or removed, new services are frequently developed and released to public use, and new technologies capture the imaginations of many.”

This part of the essay stood out to me because it never phased me how quickly technology is changing. There are so many different ways of capturing an image and posting it somewhere. There are even technologies like Snapchat that are aimed to specifically connect you and share your surroundings with people. It’s interesting to think about what was before Snapchat because all I can really think about is taking a picture on your camera or phone and personally sending it to someone or posting on a social network. Now there is a social network to do exactly that. It just raises the question: what is to come? how will the capturing and spreading of images change over time? how easy will it be to see where people are and what they are doing?

“One of the most crucial and dramatic processes that we can point to is the fragmentation of images: the automatic and manual annotation of images with “external” metadata , and with “internal” metadata that is extracted from within images’ content itself: images taken inside vs. outside, the identification of people in a photograph, automatic detection of different scenes or atmospheres in photos (i.e. nightlife; happy; sad) and much more.”

This paragraph took me straight to the idea of Snapchat because we’re able to tell the internal and external annotation of images. When taking a snapchat not only are we trying to picture where we are, who we are with and what we are doing but also the added effect of location filters to further a suspicion and make it concrete. This app has become a way of documenting your life for not only yourself but also to your followers. It also has the ability to show what your emotions are and potentially thoughts if you offer it. There were several times during a show where people would document their feelings about an episode. 

“How do we study these communities? What type of relations they suggest?”

I think there are too many communities to be studied. There are apps that are able to track a persons lifestyle, spending habits, and activity through social media. I think the communities are so intertwined that it is hard to study them. There are too many variables and too many different technologies. I wouldn’t know where to begin unless it was an extremely specific study “Girls from Long Island on a Saturday night” based off of the “Long Island” Snapchat filter. Although that doesn’t encompass an entire population, it’s a good start.