Mobile Media Technologies at the Intersection of the Virtual and the Real

This post is based on a paper I wrote for Dr. Paul Booth‘s New Media and Culture class, which took place during the Fall 2013 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. The purpose of this paper was to synthesize three articles on mobile media technologies, and the impact they have on the physical world. Please feel free to join the conversation on mobility by leaving a comment in the comments section.

The mobility of new media technologies – in particular smartphones – has allowed users to layer the virtual on top of the physical, and thus create a third space that represents a melding of the two. This mobility has transformed how individuals interact with the physical environment around them, and this has resulted in a physical environment that is far more interactive and immersive due to the increased melding of the virtual and the physical. Indeed, users no longer need to be seated in front of their desktop computers (or even lug around bulky laptops) in order to enter the virtual space; there is no need for them to login to a virtual space that can only be interfaced through a terminal that is hooked into a wall (or is simply impractical to carry around). With mobile media technology, users can access the virtual anywhere at any time. More importantly, however, this virtual space continues to exist regardless of whether or not individuals access it, but it can only be actualized and made “real” through the use of mobile media technologies (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Mobile media technologies such as smartphones have contributed to the creation of a "third space" that exists between the physical and the virtual.
Fig. 1: Mobile media technologies such as smartphones have contributed to the creation of a “third space” that exists between the physical and the virtual.

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Adventure Time, BMO and the Networked Self

This is a revised version of a paper that I originally wrote for a class on New Media and Culture, taught by Dr. Paul Booth at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Since this was written, Dr. CarrieLynn Reinhard of Dominican University has come on board as a co-author, and we are currently in the process of revising this paper with an eye towards publication. Additionally, we will be presenting a version of this paper at the upcoming CSCA annual conference scheduled to take place April 2 – 6, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN. We are interested in getting feedback on this paper, so we would appreciate any and all comments people might have to offer. However, because this paper is incomplete and not currently published in any journals, we would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact us for permission first. Thank you.

A COMPUTER BOY OR A COMPUTER GIRL?: ADVENTURE TIME, BMO AND THE NETWORKED SELF

INTRODUCTION

With episodes like “Fionna and Cake” (Season 3, episode 9) or its follow-up “Bad Little Boy” (Season 5, episode 11), the cultish animated series Adventure Time (2010-current) tackles issues of gender head on; by swapping female characters for male characters and vice versa, the show highlights the fact that gender is not fixed, and serves to “underline the arbitrariness of gender and reveal its symbolic as opposed to its biological function” (Morse, 2001, p. 27). This, along with an emphasis on strong female characters like “Marceline and Princess Bubblegum helped make Adventure Time a hit with female viewers, giving girls two distinctive characters to connect with” (Sava, 2013, online). Indeed, “the series becomes something more when it begins to focus on Finn’s relationships with the women around him,” and it conveys lessons through “morality tales that avoid being overly preachy by teaching values in wildly ludicrous circumstances” (Sava, 2013, online). Thus, Adventure Time is able to transcend the notions of gender that are often coded into children’s programming, despite the fact that both of the central characters are male (Jake the dog and Finn the human). Furthermore, the series conforms to Matt Hills’ (2004) definition of cult television in a number of ways, and thus it is also able to cross generational lines as easily as it crosses gender lines.

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Fan Activism and Digital Protest

This is a revised and updated version of a short paper I wrote for Dr. Paul Booth‘s class on Fandom and Active Audiences that took place during the Autumn 2012 quarter at DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

FAN ACTIVISM AND DIGITAL PROTEST

According to Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport (2009), protest tactics have diffused across movement societies, and thus have become normalized as a way of addressing both political and non-political issues. They explain that traditional protest tactics and schemas have been used to address a variety of consumer-based and culturally-oriented claims, and that fans have adopted these tactics to address issues surrounding the properties that are the focus of their fandoms. This phenomenon is summed up by John L. Sullivan, who writes that “fans can be mobilized to press producers and media corporations for changes (or, as is more often the case, to prevent changes from coming about in a favorite media text)” (2013, p. 196).

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Let me in and I’ll get physical: Virtual bands, Vocaloids, and the Networked Self

So for my first official post, I thought I would share this short paper that I wrote for a class on New Media and Culture, taught by Dr. Paul Booth at DePaul University in Chicago, IL.  The paper looks at how virtual bands and vocaloid performers represent what Zizi Papacharissi refers to as the networked self, primarily because they highlight the fluidity of gender, the performative aspects of identity, and the flexible nature of reality itself, all of which are important factors in the conception of a networked self.  I would like to expand the paper, and in the process devote more time to the discussion of Hatsune Miku and other Vocaloid performers.  Additionally, I would like to bring in more scholarship on fan studies to back up some of the assumptions made in the paper (particularly the one about fans negotiating and renegotiating their identities through fannish activities).  Therefore, I feel like I could draw upon Henry Jenkins, Nicholle Lamerichs, Scott Duchesne, and/or Booth, and that this would lend more support to the argument overall.  Anyway, I’m looking for feedback on this one, so I would appreciate any and all comments people might have to offer. Also, because this paper is incomplete and not currently published in any journals, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.

LET ME IN AND I’LL GET PHYSICAL: VIRTUAL BANDS, VOCALOIDS, AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NETWORKED SELF

Abstract:  The rise of the Internet has led what Zizi Papacharissi (2013) refers to as a networked self.  According to Papacharissi people construct their identities in relation to information received from other individuals, particularly through the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  This concept could also be applied to virtual and digital characters, particularly those that become the focus of fandoms and fannish activities which impose a constructed identity upon these artificially created beings.  Virtual bands and Vocaloid performers embody the notion of the networked self, as they represent a confluence of concepts that are inherent to its conception.  These include the fluidity of identity, the performative aspects of gender, and the flexible nature of reality itself.  This paper will focus on the characters of Cherry, the lead singer of the virtual band Studio Killers, and Hatsune Miku, a Vocaloid performer developed by Crypton Future Media.  It will examine how both of these characters embody the idea of a networked self that results when fans engage in various fan activities that lead to the generation of a wholly constructed identity that is constantly being reevaluted through the act of negotiation and networking.

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