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Consumer Production in Social Media Networks: A Case Study of the "Instagram" iPhone App

Consumer Production in Social Media Networks: A Case Study of the "Instagram" iPhone App

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Published by Zachary McCune
An examination of social media networks through the Instagram iPhone app. Prepared as a Master's Dissertation at the University of Cambridge in June 2011.

Summary available here: http://thames2thayer.com/portfolio/a-study-of-instagram/
An examination of social media networks through the Instagram iPhone app. Prepared as a Master's Dissertation at the University of Cambridge in June 2011.

Summary available here: http://thames2thayer.com/portfolio/a-study-of-instagram/

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Published by: Zachary McCune on Jun 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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1
ConsumerProductioninSocialMediaNetworks:
ACaseStudyofthe“Instagram”iPhoneApp
ZacharyMcCuneDissertationforM.PhilinModernSociety&GlobalTransformationattheUniversityofCambridgeSupervisor:Dr.JohnThompsonWordCount:19,936Submitted9June2011©ZacharyMcCune2011
 
2
TableofContents
INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................3
I:RESEARCHMETHODS........................................................................................................................5
T
HEORIZING
N
ETWORKS
,
U
SERS
,
AND
P
RODUCTION
......................................................................................11
A
DDRESSING
B
IASES
,
O
MISSIONS
,
AND
G
ENERALIZABILITY
...........................................................................14
II:CONTEXT..........................................................................................................................................18
T
OWARDSTHE
I
NSTANT
I
MAGE
...........................................................................................................................18
T
HE
M
OBILE
D
IGITAL
P
LATFORM
.......................................................................................................................24
I
NSTAGRAM
I
TSELF
.................................................................................................................................................29
HowitWorks.......................................................................................................................................................32
C
ONTEXT
C
ONCLUSIONS
........................................................................................................................................36
III:ANETHNOGRAPHYOFINSTAGRAM.......................................................................................38
A
N
I
NSTA
M
EETIN
L
ONDON
..................................................................................................................................39
ThePhotowalk....................................................................................................................................................41
ThePub..................................................................................................................................................................44
O
NTHE
A
PP
.............................................................................................................................................................51
Share.......................................................................................................................................................................52
Engage....................................................................................................................................................................54
IV:SIXTYPESOFUSERMOTIVATION...........................................................................................58
S
HARING
...................................................................................................................................................................59
D
OCUMENTATION
...................................................................................................................................................61
S
EEING
......................................................................................................................................................................63
C
OMMUNITY
.............................................................................................................................................................65
C
REATIVITY
..............................................................................................................................................................68
T
HERAPY
..................................................................................................................................................................70
I
N
R
EVIEW
................................................................................................................................................................72
Q
UESTIONNAIRE
C
ONCLUSIONS
...........................................................................................................................74
V:CONCLUSIONS..................................................................................................................................76
BIBLIOGRAPHY....................................................................................................................................80

 
3
Introduction
Today’sinformationsocietyhasbecomereliantonconsumerproduction.Withcheapandubiquitoustechnologiessuchasmobilephones,consumersareenabledandencouragedtocasuallyproducevideos(seeYouTube),audiorecordings(seeSoundCloud),andreal-timetextualresponses(seeTwitter)totheirgrowinglymediatedlives.Engagementinthesecasualproductionsisempoweredby“alwayson”globalcommunicationnetworks,enmeshingconsumersinawebofsocialtiesthatarepredicated,tovariousdegrees,onproduction.Academictreatmentsofthis“Web2.0”andemergentmobiletechnologiestendtowardsmacro-assessment,failingtocloselyexamineanyonesiteortechnologyandmissingthespecificmotivationsandexperiencesofusers.Whilediscoursesaboutthebanalityorexceptionalityofdigitalconsumerproductionproliferate,“deepethnographies”ofdigitalconsumer/productioncultureproverare.CulturecriticslikeLeeSiegelandAndrewKeencontendthatweb2.0propagatesa“cultoftheamateur”andthat“social”mediaproductionsubvertsideasof“quality”inglobalculture.Siegelclaimsuser-generatedcontentis“self-indulgent,”aplacewhere“conformity[is]theonlystandardforsuccess”andlacklusteramateurproductionthreatensthetrue“originalvoicesfrombeingheard”(2008:54,72,6).Keeninsiststhatanamateurisa“layperson,lackingcredentials,adabbler”romanticizedbytoday’scultureoverthrowing“expertise”withinmediaproduction(2008:36-37).Bothauthorsprivilegetraditional/professionalmediaandusecasualsurveysofYouTubeorFlickrcontenttoconfirm,intheirview,theendlessbanalityofsocialmedia.

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