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Conceptualizing personal media

Lüders, M. 2008. Conceptualizing personal media. New Media & Society 10, 683–702 (available on-line:, accessed 10 April 2010).
The digitalization and personal use of media technologies have destabilized the traditional dichotomization between mass communication and interpersonal communication, and therefore between mass media and personal media (e.g. mobile phones, email, instant messenger, blogs and photo-sharing services). As private individuals use media technologies to create and share personal expressions through digital networks, previous characteristics of mass media as providers of generally accessible information are no longer accurate. This article may be situated within a medium-theoretical tradition, as it elucidates technical and social dimensions of personal media and revises the distinction between mass media and personal media. A two-dimensional model suggests locating personal media and mass media according to an interactional axis and an institutional/professional axis: personal media are de-institutionalized/de-professionalized and facilitate mediated interaction. The implementation of digital media technologies has important consequences for social networks and fits well within a theoretical discussion of the post-traditional self.

• A useful article which focuses on reviewing existing models (by Luhmann and also Thompson) that distinguish between personal media and mass media in the light of convergence and digitalised media
• Citing Hutchby, amongst others, Lüders argues that it is necessary to “acknowledge the materiality of technology […] without losing sight of the discursive practices through which we understand it.” (p687). She develops a three level model of media that incorporates media technologies such as the internet or the telephone, which allow media forms such as blogs or telephone conversation to develop. For the third level of media genres, she argues that “Media forms with near-naturalized, socially-implemented characteristics at this level constitute points of departure for more specific types of the same media form, that is, the development of different genres.” (p687)
- This is a useful way of looking at the types of media available
• It concludes that there are more overlaps now than before – e.g. a letter was between two people, whereas an email can be strictly symmetrical and interpersonal, or in effect delivered to a mass audience.
• It proposes a model that outlines the continuum that is present – the axes are institutional/professional vs the opposite, and symmetrical/mediated vs asymmetrical/quasi-mediated
• It notes the relevance of a network analysis, in that the types of interaction enabled by media differ and affect the types of communication and potential formation of strong and weak ties.
• It notes the increasing use of personal media forms by the mass media, to generate interest and loyalty amongst the audience. This underlines the increasing blurring between these two areas.

Please note - these are rough notes only, based on a first reading. They may be useful to someone interested in a considered perspective on this paper.
However, these notes do not necessarily represent a final opinion, and are subject to revision in the future.

Trends in New Media Research: A Critical Review of Recent Scholarship

Pavlik, J. V. 2013. Trends in New Media Research: A Critical Review of Recent Scholarship. Sociology Compass 7, 1–12 (available on-line:, accessed 1 February 2013).
Trends in new media research are examined. These trends revolve around four dimensions, including citizen engagement, organizational innovation and adaptation, mobility and content computerization. The following article critically examines this shifting terrain in new media research and its implications for future scholarship.

• Claims to be an overview of some recent research in "new media", but it focuses almost entirely on journalism. As such it has some useful data with regards to readership, advertising spend, decline of newspapers and so on.
• Argues that there may be "a paradigm shift, in the domain of new media" - but this is not carefully argued. This paper mostly presents material from other papers without theoretical or careful critical discussion
• Citizen engagement:
- highlights the Arab Spring and the mobilising potential of new media
- Osama bin Laden and the way in which news breaks very fast on line; "in the networked, mobile, digital 21st century, scoops are almost non-existent, at least for long or for more than a few ?eeting seconds"
- "citizen journalists" (p2) are important, and journalism is changing to adapt to this, e.g. by becoming "curators" (p3)
• Organizational innovation and adaptation
- "alternative ownership structures for established and start-up news organisations." being proposed
- Some evidence that this may be viable e.g. South Korea's OhmyNews
• Content computerization
- This is a better section of the paper, highlighting the role of computers and databases in changing journalism, and tracing this trend back to "computer-assisted journalism" as developed from 1952
- "Locative media is a term that refers to media forms that utilize geographically tagged or encoded content"(p4) - being used more, e.g. by - "not so much storytelling as fact reporting" (p5)
- Diakopoulos - highlighting data-mining as the future of journalism; Berners-Lee (2010) - "Data-driven journalism is the future"
• Mobile augmented reality and journalism
- Also an interesting section, though somewhat narrowly focused on journalism and ignoring other aspects of augemented reality
- Noting how "'Most of the innovation is happening outside news organisations' (Bocskowski 2004; Bradshaw 2010)" (p7)
- NYT's paywall introduced in 2011 has become a standard
- p8: various statistics on state of news industry in USA
- Growth of "Hyperlocal web sites [which] serve principally local residents, and tend to be produced by local reporters or residents" (p9)
• Overall, useful for some up to date data on the USA news industry and new media. Poorly edited with typos and grammatical mistakes.

Please note - these are rough notes only, based on a first reading. They may be useful to someone interested in an alternative perspective on this paper.
However, these notes do not necessarily represent a final opinion, and are subject to revision in the future.

Business Professionals' Perspectives on the Disillusionment of Virtual Worlds

Bateman, P., J. Pike, N. Berente & S. Hansen 2012. Time for a Post-Mortem?: Business Professionals' Perspectives on the Disillusionment of Virtual Worlds. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research 5 (available on-line:, accessed 17 January 2013).
Virtual worlds (VWs) are powerful three-dimensional technologies where users can assume identities and interact with others. While designed as open-platforms for creativity, expression, and experimentation by recreational users, VWs were once lauded for their potential applications to business. Today, much of the business community has either moved on from the hype of VWs or struggles to understand whether value can be obtained by using VWs. This paper attempts to provide an understanding of these outcomes through the analysis of assessments written by 59 business professionals, who each spent an extended period of time in a popular VW during the peak of the hype. From these assessments, four broad perspectives on the value of VWs to organizations (or lack thereof) were identified, along with challenges facing use of VWs if they are to become more widely used within business.


• A useful paper – good analysis of hype, why hype did not materialise in the VWs with regards to business opportunities/being a space for business activities

- Notes a prediction in 2007 that "80 percent of active Internet users would have a VW presence by the end of 2011 (Gartner Research, 2007)." (p2)

--> This might have been the key point - if there were loads of people in VWs, there would be business potential (see p11 also). Since there wasn't such an influx, there wasn't - hence the real question might be: 'Why weren't more people in VW?'

--> Surely, e.g. in gaming, there are many opportunities for advertising, but in a relatively limited market?

• Data derived from an exercise done by postgraduate students in business course who were asked to go into Second Life and develop opinions as to the usefulness for business. Only those with prior business experience were used

• Overall (p7) – 36.8% saw it as having some value, 41.4% no value, 14.3% contingent value, 7.5% future value

- Most value seen as advertising platform, enhance customer experience, training, meetings

- Main problems seen as need to learn the platform, inability to control the environment, technology no fast enough, wrong kind of users

--> This actually suggests the need for a limited form of virtual world, tailored for business users only. On the lines of LinkedIn or something.

• The argument revolves around affordances, and how the technologies are relevant in one context but not in another [i.e. relational] – thus SL is good for people who want freedom, gaming environment, but this is not useful for businesses

--> The environment of freedom etc. actually is not what businesses want… In fact, businesses thrive on limited social openness - i.e. they need to lock people into certain discourses, perceptions, etc which will lead them to directed purchase decisions [- this must relate to the markets approach somehow – Callon etc…. i.e. markets are about developing assemblages with particular dynamics…]

• Good point about hype (p11) – that for much research

- "the primary focus is on how business might use VWs, not if. This approach creates an unspoken assumption underlying prior work – creation of affordances naturally leads to business utilization. However, capabilities of a technology do not determine use (Wasko, et al., 2011). In fact, additional capabilities and functions afforded by virtual worlds have been found to be harder to utilize, even for experienced users, thus reducing willingness and expectations of use for business activities (Luse, Triplett, & Mennecke, forthcoming)." (p11; original emphasis).

--> Good point I think - i.e. hype-discourse assumes the potentials will be used, and thus develops a number of positive scenarios. By focusing on a couple of examples, e.g. IBM, this is taken as proof that they will be used, hence the positive assumption is taken as justified and then developed

Please note - these are rough notes only, based on a first reading. They may be useful to someone interested in an alternative perspective on this paper.
However, these notes do not necessarily represent a final opinion, and are subject to revision in the future.

"There's an app for that" - women and mobile technology

Frizzo-Barker, J. & P. A. Chow-White 2012. ‘There’s an App for That’ Mediating mobile moms and connected careerists through smartphones and networked individualism. Feminist Media Studies 12, 580–589 (available on-line:, accessed 21 December 2012).
The ubiquitous use of mobile smartphones and Internet-based applications commonly known as "apps," can be viewed as simultaneously empowering and constraining for women's experiences and identities due to their potential to foster "always on" forms of sociability in both public and private spheres. We conduct in-depth interviews with women who daily use smartphone apps to understand how they use and make meaning through social media and popular apps to do with parenting (using the "Total Baby" app), fitness ("Runmeter"), finances ("Mint") and daily tasks ("Evernote") through Judy Wajcman's technofeminist approach, which suggests that people and artifacts co-evolve, and technology can facilitate and restrain gender power relations.


• Quite a short article (relatively) and with less discussion of the feminist angle than I expected – i.e. how apps help a woman/mother in her daily caring duties, but also reproduce patriarchal structures etc.

- This article contains more a number of interesting examples of app usage although nothing that I didn’t expect.

- Basically arguing that apps/smartphones get used in different ways that reflect women’s roles in society, and are integrated into their household management

• Interesting bit about a certain ‘computer logic’ [my term]

- “Smartphone apps add an additional layer of logic to the execution of daily tasks. In her ground-breaking study of computers and automation in the workplace the 1980s, Shoshana Zuboff (1988) highlights the distinction that computers “informate” tasks; that is, they produce precise information about the tasks in such a way that the data takes on a life of its own. We found evidence of how smartphone apps motivate women’s daily practices with information about their finances, health and fitness.” (p586)

--> The way in which the smartphone organises the information that it gathers (e.g. about organising calendar, details of the child’s vaccinations etc., have an effect in organising the user’s life too [though to be sure people don’t always do what the apps say, and one wonders how much the respondents are talking of ideal situations, rather than in practice forgetting to check and so on]

• Definition of apps: “small stand-alone software that connect to Internet data without using a web browser portal.” (p580)

• Notes the rapid spread of mobile technologies – overtaken fixed lines

- “over 60 percent of the worldwide population has access to wireless communication (Manuel Castells 2010)” (p580)

- “Mobile phone subscriptions surpassed 3.4 billion globally in 2008, eclipsing landline telephone connections in the early 2000s, as the most rapidly diffused among all human communication technologies in history (Castells 2010).” (p582)

• Draws upon Castells’s ‘networked society’, ‘networked individualism’, and Wajcman’s technofeminism

- “Where networked individualism depicts the freedom to connect to various community networks, technofeminism draws attention to women’s often overlooked role in cultivating and maintaining these community networks.” (pp582-3)

• Interesting tensions and guilt feelings relating to using apps/smartphone

- “paradoxical double standard—they felt guilty letting their children use a smartphone while they completed a task, and also while using their smartphones when with their children.” (p586)

• Also note that it's in a special issue that deals with feminism and new media

Please note - these are rough notes only, based on a first reading. They may be useful to someone interested in an alternative perspective on this paper.
However, these notes do not necessarily represent a final opinion, and are subject to revision in the future.

Notes on Media Violence by Barrie Gunter (2008)

GUNTER, B. 2008. Media Violence. American Behavioral Scientist 51, 1061 –1122.

Some overall points
• Gunter paper is a review of behavioural research on media effects on violence - extensive and useful, goes over the different types of research, etc
• The most fundamental difficulty is that everyone is different, media effects get filtered through individual cognitive and cultural screens, "certain forms of media violence can exert certain kinds of effects on some media consumers some of the time." (p1113)
– Real or fiction: people more likely to respond and be affected by real violence (or violence said to be real, e.g. in experiments)
– Also legitimacy: when violence is shown as legitimate, people more likely to repeat/be violent
– The lab experiments (mostly with college students) tend to show effects (violence analogue, electric shock, 'angered' subjects) - aslo the Bandura one - tend to support media violence causality, but these are always artificial situation (altho eg when children left to play after the experiment has 'finished' then arguably natural, socially complex, environment) (see also p1111)
– More effects on younger children - hardly surprising
– Tend to be more males apparently affected, but this leads to on bias present in many - people who are already violent probably prefer violent media content and therefore there is not necessarily a causal link, only an associational one
– Literacy: positive results when children taught to interpret the texts - this implies that without such training, there is more likely to have negative effects
– Statistical significance: what does it mean exactly? Correlation /= correlation... (pp1109)
– Many studies done on violence, and on youth - why? (Ruddock's political point). Somewhere in Gunter he speaks of this bias also, and one (meta analysis I think) showed that depending on initial assumption (violence, neutral, or non violent) the outcome tended to support the assumption (see also p1111)
– "A simplistic, unidirectional model of media effects therefore may hamper the achievement of a comprehensive understanding of why individuals respond to media violence the way they do." (p1112)

A Prezi which summarises the main points