Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Why Media Spreads, Part 1

Posted by nathanpowers22 on January 25, 2017

Overall, I found this to be a great introduction to what I expect to be a rather interesting read throughout the semester, though I think it will take some time to fully digest everything discussed in the writing. This passage did a good job of defining relevant terminology that will undoubtedly pervade the text: namely, the ideas of “stickiness” and “spreadability” to describe media, but also the concept of a “networked culture” around which media has developed these attributes. I also really appreciated that the authors look beyond the trite, superficial argument that technology has been the primary arbiter of the obvious shifts from traditional broadcast media to more spreadable forms. That is, I believe they do well to begin “explain[ing] why sharing has become such common practice, not just how.” Specifically, I thought the comparison of sharing news articles digitally to a grandmother sharing physical newspaper clippings was a pretty effective one (at least for now; I suspect this analogy will likely become obsolete for most young adults within a decade or so). Furthermore, I found the authors’ argument to move away from the term “viral”–as (over)used in association with online content–to be well-reasoned, insightful, and refreshing. The concepts of “viral marketing” and “viral videos” have become increasingly obnoxious and less meaningful the more I hear them, and as the authors astutely point out, aren’t exactly accurate in their description of how media texts spread (in the usual contexts that “viral” is currently used, anyway). On this point, I found the reading to be informative as well because I’ve never used Twitter and haven’t had a Facebook account since I was 14. To me, the insidious “automated marketing updates” that these social media platforms employ are deserving of the negative connotations inherent to viral metaphors. Regardless, I look forward to future readings and discussions that will continue to flesh out some of the ideas outlined in this introductory section as well as how I will apply what I learn here to my own life and how I view the “datasphere” in its current form.


2 Responses to “Why Media Spreads, Part 1”

  1. jasendavis said

    It’s funny that you point out that analogies we use today will soon be antiquated. I can only imagine the time in the future when we have to explain to our descendants what a desk-top commuter is; what a time when our news and entertainment devices remained attached to a wall!

  2. brianchenault said

    I believe viral media was successful at its point in time that it was most prevalent, I believe people of todays time understand that most things become very over-hyped. If viral marketing was somehow able to go away for awhile and resurface I believe it could possibly catch fire again and become something.

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