Thursday, December 12, 2013

Revised conclusions and implications

To bring a sense of completeness to this project, it is important to give a sort of challenge or applied meaning to those who might be interested in this research. For the most part, I see this information as important as a means of analyzing in which direction new media is headed. With the rise of YouTube, Vine, Podcasts, and other means of fan produced media receiving more attention, there is a switch in the way we consume media occurring. This switch is characterized by fans being able to openly and immediately interact with the media they are consuming. Furthermore, this has changed the way traditional media operates.

For example, some of my classmates have looked at similar projects focused on not only fan produced content but also focusing on how fans are now more able to interact with traditional media as well. These interactions happen usually in forums and in the comment sections on the sites in which the media is uploaded; however, it would seem that my examination of Sowerby and Luff's Fully Optimised Social Media Network and one class mate of mine examining Tumblr in conjunction with a media site,  that social media is not being examined closely enough for fan interaction with media. At this point I think it is reasonable to say that there needs to be more examination, like this research project, of the role social media is playing in shaping new media and traditional media.

Many TV shows, movies, musicians, and writers have official Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and sometimes even Tumblr and Instagram accounts for fans to dirtily interact with either the show or the show's related media. Despite these efforts to put the power into the hands of the fans to shape their media, this merely allows them to interact within a constructed space designed by the show: by having such confined ways of interacting with the media, it is hard to tell how much fans really do shape the media itself versus shaping the way other people derive meaning from the media the group is examining.  In Contrast, with smaller  productions like the different podcast Sowerby and Luff produce, fans can more easily shape what content they are consuming.

Thus, this research helps show the trends happening in the shift to a social media based interaction with media construct. With people like Shane Dawson from YouTube, Grumpy Cat, Annoying Orange, and other internet personalities receiving TV shows and merchandise collection, we can see that fans are helping shape the media they consume, and often the support of these individuals and their products comes through the form of social media. This research shows a small sample of a fairly unknown show that receives a similar, much smaller scale, fan support that these entities receive.

As mentioned in this research, Sowerby and Luff produce their show "Fat Chance" independently with mostly fan support. They have some sponsors, but those sponsors are usually products that they use on the show recognizing their work (it is very different then say a google partnership or doing advertisements for large corporations like iRobot). Sowerby and Luff maintain their show through keeping very open lines of communication with their fans and making sure that the show is shaped the way that fans want it to be. In fact, now that Fat Chance is coming to an end, Sowerby and Luff have been soliciting requests from fans of what they would like to see in the next series they put out.

With the increasing presence of internet and media in our lives, it behooves media production to focus its attention more closely on the connected consumer. With the popularity of reality TV shows having fans vote on their favorite contestants (American Idol, X-Factor, RuPaul's Drag Race etc), it makes sense for media to become more focused on how fans can help shape the content of the show. However, American mass media, has too large of an audience for this to really work as openly as Sowerby and Luff have their show working. Audience size is the reason why mass media has to have constructed fan interaction spaces: the larger the audience the more narrow the interaction has to be. If all of the fans were allowed to put in their own opinion absent of controlling filters, the work load of processing the content would be a monumental task. That is the beauty of small media, fans have a better opportunity to interact and shape what they are watching. Moreover, fan interaction is encouraged and is often necessary for the media to operate.

To specifically address who would be interested in this research, I think people who are interested in fan shaped content, not to be confused with fan made content, would be very interested in this research. Furthermore, I think this research is another great real world example of the ideas of Gee (Affinity Spaces) and Jenkins (Interactive Media shaped or made by fans). Moreover, I think anyone interested in growing the social media presence or fan interaction of their Podcast or YouTube channel would be interested in this research because it presents them with a model of another show that has done the same thing they are trying to do.

(expanded, and edited for clarity and preciseness)

No comments: