Speaker, Writer, Academic.
Durham University Lecturer.
I do stuff for the BBC.
Feminist & lovely.
The strongest aspect of social media are the visual elements.
After being commissioned to compile the UK's first Insta-economy report (there's been some press), the received business strategy of organisational control includes new content and the erasure of boundaries between PR, marketing comms, branding and media outputs. Key examples include paid-for content; sponsored user profiles designed to look like an 'anybody'; the overtuning (in my opinion) of myopic and short-sighted, or predictable, content.
The problem of control over content thus emerges from the commercial incentive to stake out key vantage points and to dominate information intimately related to image.
In my lecture to Durham University next week I argue the method of design effects the control of content, and debates about commercial impact are only one piece of a larger puzzle. A puzzle that concerns the extent to which circuits of information flow, control, data security, consumer profiling, promotion, consumer behaviour, management and feedback serve the larger constellation of economic incentives and profit.
The evolving ecosystem of policy, legislation, entrepreneurism, in areas of marketing content illuminate the ways that promotion and culture are closer together and have become tools for structuring contests over the conditions of communication, conditions of participation and strategies in exploiting visual culture.
It seems important to me not to overstate the power of aesthetics, but also important not to let the presence of co-consumptive content be treated as a side-dish to key literatures on marketing, consumption, society and culture.
What then can we observe about social media?
Ten myths about social media and the power of visual culture
Eight counter-theses on social media
The often dialectical concept of a social media culture leaves itself open to the above myths and critiques rather than foreclosing them with the visual merits of the technology and field of vision. Social media involve related worries (sometimes elation) at the leveling of distinctions between 'real' and 'unreal', and the different media.
To end we might observe that we are very adept at casting our eyes over social media, yet we do not view or read these properly, nor do we listen to it. An argument that is settled by noting that there is no control to pause the flow of information.
If nothing else, social media may encourage us to dig deeper and look back on traditional contexts, socio-political and cultural situations with fresh eyes, new questions and open minds.