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Session: Vlogs and Visual Media October 25, 2007

Posted by Sarah in AoIR.
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Friday was my day of going to stuff that sounds cool and is fun to think about but isn’t necessarily directly related to my research. In this session we saw a film presentation from Richard Hall on video bloggers, from Elizabeth Losh on blogspats and “visual arguments”, from Erika Pearson on Fanips, and from Lori Kendall on multi-media conversations.A short history of the video blog

I didn’t really take any notes on Richard’s film – it was interesting, with tidbits of interviews with a wide variety of vloggers. You can watch it yourself at the project website.

“Blogspats” and Visual Arguments

Liz Losh is looking at the role of photographs, particularly photoshopped photographs, function in blogs and in particular how they’re use as rhetorical tools in “blogspats”. I found it particularly telling that the following XKCD comic showed up in my RSS feeds shortly after her talk…

xkcd - photoshops

But that’s beside the point… Liz talked about the subversive potential of political photoshop, how it’s “editorial cartooning for the common man” (I believe she was quoting someone there, but I didn’t catch who), and how it supposedly democratizes photo editing.

Blogpsats are recurrent, self-reinforcing conflicts that often draw on shared history and pre-defined social roles.  They differ from flamewars in that they are “signal, not noise.”  They are bound up in competitions between social media outlets.

From here,  Liz talked about the use of photoshop in a blogspat around photos of a luncheon that Bill Clinton held for bloggers in September of 2006.  There were lots of issues of gender, sexuality, and racial identity that came up in the course of conflict over this luncheon and the conflicts and these broader issues were played out through photoshop manipulations of pictures of Clinton with the invited bloggers.

Fanips: Fan manipulations of the visual

Erika Pearson is looking at mediated images, particularly those created by fans of particular media – which she categorizes as fan “play”.  She showed us a fan video that mashed up Sin City and Heroes in a film trailer format.  Using that video as an example, she talked about the socialized literacy that’s involved – the video is fan-specific (I recognized the style of Sin City right away, but since I haven’t gotten sucked into Heroes, I didn’t catch that bit of it).  These texts are successful if the fan community finds them meaningful; they contribute to the fan community; they reinforce the subculture.

Ultimately, she argues that fanips represent the early stages of a new culture of cultural prodution.

Show and Tell: Comparing Meaning in Videos and Text

Lori’s paper was about the multi-layered, multi-media aspects of conversations – ones that cross boundaries of text, photo, and video.  Videos are part of conversations (the “video response” feature of YouTube makes that abundantly clear!).

As an example, Lori described a conversation/conflict that took place in the Animutation community (see also here and here).  One filmmaker produced a video that was far more sexualized than was the norm for the community, prompting a reaction from the lone female member of the community, and a number of video responses to the conflict.  This shows that the videos are more than just entertainment – if we want to really understand what’s going on with social media / participatory culture, we have to know that.  It’s more than just user-created content – people are using the new media to communicate with one another.



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