User-generated content: Archaeologies, Economies and Ecologies – Dovey

In Dovey’s lecture on ephemeral media he touches on a number of interesting issues impeding on understandings of user generated content. Describing the media landscape of 2009 in ecological terms, Dovey suggests that ideas surrounding the public sphere, a space where everyone’s voice can be heard and counted, is not a useful one in the online environment. Due to the conglomeration of attention, or ‘nodes’ (drawing on Barabási and Albert, 1999), people cluster together around particular sites of attention and those sites only gather more attention. The result is that rather than a sphere of equal input, the Internet resembles more of a forest. A forest that the majority of us only see the top of, that is to say, those nodes or attentional clusters that that are big enough to be noticed at the top. The tall tree’s competing for sunlight, or our attention. However like a dense canopy, there is a myriad of life underneath that dominant topology and on the Internet countless examples of creative content creation go relatively unnoticed in the same way.

If the twentieth century was defined by clear cut boundaries in the production of content and a Marxist theoretical framework was ideal for understanding that divide; then the twenty-first century is ideally suited to an ecological framework. An ecological framework whereby content, messages and agencies interlock with often beneficial (any operational platform is built on mutual value creation), sometimes opposed (‘Xbox 180’ immediately comes to mind) consequences.

internet topology

Barabási, AL. and Albert, R. (1999) ‘Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks’, Science286: 509 – 512, 15 October).

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