Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mediated publics

I like Thompson's idea of mediated publics. He argues that public was once defined in terms of people, places and events that share a common locale. Print media disturbed this convergence by creating a 'reading public which was not localised in space and time.' (Thompson, 1995:126). Other media have helped to accelerate fractured or reconfigured publics. In the UK, the 1952 Coronation is often cited as a landmark event, in which the spectating public was dispersed as television ownership grew exponentially. A public event was witnessed in private surroundings by many people, often with neighbours crowding into houses to share the spectacle. Perhaps it could be argued that the first moon landing was another key moment in that the immediate audience was particularly small, but the mediated event reached out to a large and very diverse public. Interestingly though, for the upcoming funeral of Thatcher, the public is divided in other ways, but there's bound to be a heavy media presence.

Monday, April 01, 2013


Yes, I finally let go of my Flickr account last year, realizing that it no longer served any real purpose for me or, in fact, held my interest. There's a sort of archive of memory there, but a lot of it was rather ephemeral - or so it seems now, at least. Interestingly though, I'm using Instagram more intensively, and almost exclusively to share more intimate family-related images. In some ways it's a more traditional network. Barton & Lee pick up on a passage from Wellman that fits in very well with this: 'CMC supplements, arranges and amplifies in-person and telephone communications rather than replacing them ' (2001:18). This relates to our family use of Instagram which for me hybridizes the phone-call, the blog and the family photo album without replacing any of them. It all seems far more old-school than the sort of transformational social networking associated with Web 2.0 that I, and others, have written about extensively. Appadurai (2003) suggests that 'where natural social collectivities build commonality out of memory, virtual communities build memory out of connectivity.' - well he might just have produced a killer quote, but certainly the first half matches what we do on Instagram. We must be a natural social collectivity, then. For me this points to a very interesting research area which would look at how new media gets adopted and absorbed into family interactions. Next project?