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Results 1 - 25 of 275
1. Matthew Santoro Inks Deal With Perigee

Matthew Santoro (GalleyCat)Matthew Santoro has landed a deal with Perigee, an imprint at Penguin Random House. This YouTube star’s channel boasts a following of 4 million subscribers.

Santoro (pictured, via) will write a book featuring unique and funny facts called Mind=Blown. The facts will cover a wide range of topics including history, science, and technology.

Collective Digital Studio and Marc Gerald, a literary agent at The Agency Group, negotiated the deal with Marian Lizzi, the editor in chief of Perigee. A publication date has been scheduled for August 2016.

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2. Tea Fairies Time Lapse

It's been a couple of weeks since I've been present on my blog, so many things to do! Summer is a very busy time, how do families fit in vacations and outings?! Maybe it's my profession and the start of attending faires that makes it feel like a lot.

I played in iMovie today to see how much I could learn in an hour, the video below is the result. Unfortunately while filming the painting process my phone continued to run out of space, so there are steps missing, like the entire painting of the middle fairy, and the completion of the third fairy.

Yet, alas, it's a time lapse video nonetheless and I learned a lot about iMovie!

Enjoy.

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3. Engage tweens with technology through Stop Motion Videos

Stop motion is an animation technique “to make a physically manipulated object or persona appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence,” (from Wikipedia). So, like Wallace and Grommet but, in our case, DIY and low-budget. I planned a stop motion program as a way of engaging tweens with the new set of iPads the Wellesley Free Library received thanks to a grant from the Wellesley Media Foundation. Tweens are a difficult audience to capture with technology programs, and after an unsuccessful QR code scavenger hunt, this seemed to be a fun idea that would attract tweens and leave them with new skills in using technology.

As I have written before, I am not the most technologically savvy of the new generation of children’s librarians. So I am always looking for a program idea where I can learn along with the kids, rather than needing to have prior knowledge or expertise. This hit the nail on the head. And it was fun too!

Here’s how it worked:

-I used Stop Motion Studio, a basic free app for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. If your library has any of these devices, you can pre-load the app beforehand. Otherwise, kids who have their own personal devices may use these. Don’t worry if you do not have a large number of devices to use, because this is an activity that lends itself to working in teams. Having one device for every four kids is not only completely reasonable logistically, it also builds teamwork and collaboration. Kids will enjoy creating a story together, and taking turns playing different roles in the process.

-Next is the fun part: gathering the materials. What you need are basically toys, toys, and more toys. Working in a library that values play as an important practice for building early literacy skills, I have access to plastic animals, plushy body organs, dolls and doll house furniture, puppets, vehicles, wooden food, blocks, LEGOs, playdough, and much more. I’m sure most of you have a similar treasure trove at your fingertips. I gathered this all together along with an assortment of craft supplies, paper, and markers.

-When the participants arrived, I gave them a brief tutorial of the app. Because we were using the basic free version, we did not have access to all of the extra features which can be purchased within the app, such as sound effects, movie themes, and the ability to import images. But for a beginner class lasting only an hour, simple was fine. Some of the kids had made stop-motion videos before using the Nintendo DS, but none had used the app. They picked it up in no time. The free version of the app does include a function to change the speed of the video, and the ability to have the previous photo appear as a translucent image in the background of the camera finder, in order to more precisely see the minute change in each frame. These features were very helpful in creating the videos.

-Next I explained the concept of story-boarding, and encouraged the participants to plan out their frames before executing the video. Then they collected supplies and began to take pictures. In the end, we shared our videos with each other. The three who chose to share their video through the library’s Youtube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEE6nkJzxnsQCemP82YXmZfLVhYE8uEzy

Overall summary:  Tweens enjoyed this fun and simple program, learned new skills on devices with which they were already somewhat familiar, and left with a sense of pride about their creations which some chose to share with the public through Library social media channels. The program’s success is determined greatly by the variety and whimsy of the materials you provide for making the videos.

Skills developed and strengthened: working using a tablet, digital photography, animation, story-boarding, working as a team.

Cost: $0

What programs have you done to engage tweens in technology? What has worked in your community?

The post Engage tweens with technology through Stop Motion Videos appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl” Goes From Screen to Page

Paige McKenzie’s \"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl\" YouTube series has more than 130 million views, her @hauntedsunshine page has 10.7k followers, and her book just pubbed. She’s 20.

Alexandra Alter in the New York Times described how McKenzie, a business partner at 16 with film producer Nick Hagen and her actress/voice-over artist mother, Mercedes Rose, launched the mockumentary web series almost five years ago. In about a year, the \"Haunting\" videos had more than five million views.

Shot, starring, and edited by McKenzie, the story features teenager Sunshine Griffiths, who captures on film the ghost that haunts her home and then struggles to save her mother from being possessed by dark forces. Weinstein Books has brought \"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl\" brand to print in a YA novel series, slated to include three books so far, with screen rights optioned, as well.

Here’s the book trailer posted yesterday by McKenzie and Weinstein:

Alter describes how literary agent Mollie Glick spotted a piece on McKenzie in Seventeen magazine. She introduced McKenzie to YA writer Alyssa B. Sheinmel, who drafted a few chapters and an outline. A book deal quickly followed, and McKenzie is quick to credit Sheinmel:

\"I can’t do this by myself, are you crazy?\" Ms. McKenzie said. \"I’ve never written a book. I don’t know how to do that.\"

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5. 3 List Building Strategies for Success in Today’s Market

You've heard it over and over, what worked before isn’t working now. I attended a webinar by online marketer Clay Collins. It was about the newer strategies for successful list building. They've been around for a while now, but many haven't taken that step forward and gotten on board. As with most marketing strategies, once they become overused they become old and tired. What used to work

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6. Birth of a Morning Glory - Sketch

Slowing getting the hang of these videos. :)


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7. Tiny Hamster to Star in Picture Book

hamsterSimon & Schuster Books for Young Readers plans to publish a children’s book starring the YouTube sensation, Tiny Hamster.

Here’s more from the press release: “Tiny Hamster Is a Giant Monster will have a photographic treatment and feature images from the video. When Tiny Hamster accidentally eats some mad scientist goo, he turns into a giant, Godzilla-like hamster, stomping through the city and eating everything in sight. This adorably monstrous story is sure to delight readers of all ages. The Tiny Hamster videos, including ‘Tiny Hamster Eating Tiny Burritos,’ are created by Denizen Company.”

Joel Jensen, Joseph Matsushima, and Amy Matsushima, the co-founders of the Denizen Company, will collaborate on the writing for the forthcoming picture book. A release date for both the book and a new video with the same title has been set for June 2nd. Follow this link to check out a playlist of videos featuring the celebrity rodent.

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8. DreamWorks Animation Bets That AwesomenessTV Will Deliver Awesomeness

Earlier this month, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation had purchased the YouTube channel AwesomenessTV for $33 million in cash. Factoring in earning and performance targets, the sale has a maximum earnings potential of $117 million.

An online aggregrator-network aimed at young male entertainment consumers, AwesomenessTV was founded as collaboration between TV producer Brian Robbins (Smallville), United Talent Agency and law firm Ziffren Brittenham. According to the May 1st press release, it “has already signed up over 55,000 channels, aggregating over 14 million subscribers and 800 million video views”.

“Awesomeness TV is one of the fastest growing content channels on the Internet today and our acquisition of this groundbreaking venture will bring incredible momentum to our digital strategy,” said DreamWorks head Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Brian Robbins has an extraordinary track record in creating family content both for traditional and new platforms and his expertise in the TV arena will be invaluable as we grow our presence in that space.”

Under the new partnership, the network AwesomenessX, that will offer “original sports, gaming, comedy, pranks and lifestyle content” targeted toward males in their teens and 20s. Robbins, who has stayed on to run the company, has also been rewarded with an executive position at DreamWorks to develop a DreamWorks Animation-branded family channel.

AwesomenessX will pick up some AwesomenessTV faves like The City – Basketball, Sk8 Spotterz, That Was Awesome and How To Be Awesome as well as launch a new series around Winter X-Games gold medalist David Wise and videos of choice game moves and swimsuit model photo shoots. Shows like Frank the Dog, Baby Gaga and Fingerlings – which provide pop and web culture commentary from a dog, a baby and finger puppets, respectively – will also be featured.

“[AwesomenessX] will attract some girls as well,” Robbins added.

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9. “Ugly Americans” Creator Devin Clark Provides “Instant Life Lessons”

When it was announced that Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans would not be returning for a third season, the show’s creator Devin Clark did not waste any time in launching his new animated series, Instant Life Lessons with Dr. Dewey Pfister. But rather than shooting for another network show, he sidestepped the corporate groupthink and idea-crushing bureaucracy in favor of a smaller “less cooks in the kitchen” independent webseries. “It is pretty fantastic having that much control over something,” Clark told Cartoon Brew. “For me, apparently, it means lots of animated child abuse and poop jokes.”

Produced for the YouTube channel Official Comedy, Instant Life Lessons is an “educational” animated series that provides absurd “one size fits all” guidance from the socially inept Dr. Dewey Pfister and his hapless son. “He genuinely wants to help people,” explains Clark, “but in an effort to make his lessons simple and easily consumed, he has boiled them down into nonsense. Also his world view is a bit insane and he is a terrible person.”

Factoring in that Ugly Americans began as an online collection of shorts called 5ON, Clark has experience with both large and small productions and can safely advise that while talent and a strong idea are important to selling a show, people often forget about how much luck factors into the equation. “If you aren’t pitching the right concept to the right network at the right moment when they are looking for exactly what you are selling, the chances of it getting made are slim to none,” he said. Fortunately, a new group of YouTube channel producers, as well as companies like Netflix and Amazon, are actively seeking animation content, providing a slate of new options to those who are developing their own series.

The first three episodes of Clark’s Instant Life Lessons with Dewey Pfister and an eight-part behind-the-scenes video series are currently available on the Official Comedy YouTube channel.

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10. YA INDIE Carnival : Social Media…what works for you?

Carnivaltickets_003

Social Media, what works for you?

Relationships. It’s all about relationships. Social media is just our virtual pub or café or bookstore or our neighborhood park. It’s about introducing yourself, & maybe your dog and making friends. That’s really all it is for me. I try and help people out and people help me out all the time. When I have questions about things I get great advice and when someone has some good news we all celebrate.

I hang out where I feel the most comfortable, like in real life. Social media really isn’t any different. The cool thing about it is that you can make friends and even keep up a friendship that starts at a conference or vacation…where ever. It’s pretty cool to have friends all over the world and really cool to discover and read stories I might never have had the chance to without social media.

As an author, I’m most comfortable using Twitter ( @Laurawriting ) and Facebook. Facebook is a little harder for me. I’ve got two pages…one for my personal life and one for my readers and I try to keep them separate, but it’s a little like trying to take the chocolate out of a banana split LOL. So that confuses me a little, to be honest. I do love Pinterest because it’s so visual. My favorite boards are book swag I love, food that I love and of course the YA Indie Carnival :)  I wish I knew how to converse with my Goodreads fans better. I have an automatic feed which posts my blog posts there, but I find it a little more challenging to have a dialog with my fans there. I love discussing books and so I look forward to people who post with questions/comments about my books or reviews.

Social media is just the modern word of mouth. And that’s the way books have been recommended to readers for hundreds of years. It’s just more exciting now. But it is super confusing sometimes, especially for authors who are just getting into it. At UtopYA, I can’t remember the author, but she was so sweet and walked up to me and said she just didn’t know where to begin. I hear that a lot. The advice I gave when she asked me is the advice I heard when I was getting started. Pick one place, it doesn’t matter where, if Facebook feels good to you pick that, if it’s easier for you to post in 140 characters then use Twitter, if you’re visual maybe Tumblr or Pinterest is for you. Just pick one and use it and start to meet people the old-fashioned way in a high tech pub/café/bookstore/park :D Twitter confused the heck out of me when I first used it…I was like what is this thing? But it’s been a great way to meet amazing friends, whether they’re dog lovers, book bloggers, readers, other writers, artists, screenwriters…you name it. (hint: it’s all about the # hashtags :) )

I sat in on one of the panels and the fabulous Kallie Ross, an awesome YA Fantasy writer/incredible panel mediator/one smart cookie, mentioned that youtube is the most searched place on the Internet. So it’s a great place to make friends. I have a channel there and post videos I use in my research and my book trailers and follow channels that make me laugh, have something to do with food and books too. I definitely could do more with my channel. Click here to swing by sometime if you want to see how I use it.

Wattpad is another site that Amanda Harvard, talented author/incredible musician/and all-around fun person, talked about on one of the UtopYA panels. Loads of authors and readers love that site. I might get my feet wet there next. But, enough about my take…what works for you?

See what the other amazing carnis have to say about it too :) And check out YA Author Club for upcoming carnival topics!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights
17. Author Cindy C Bennett

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11. here is a song for you

Here's a new drawing. Well, it's a new old drawing. You may well have seen it before. Quite recently actually.

I have a string of half finished drawings hanging around the house. I come across them all the time. In the strangest of places. Drawings that I've given up on for various reasons. Now and again though I'll try and breathe new life into them. This is what happened here.

This drawing must be at least three years old. It actually had a shoe print on it that I had to erase (I really do find them in strange places). I remember that I'd had this great idea of drawing each and every one of my pencil cases. I got half way through this before realising what a rubbish idea that was.

There was, however, another reason that I resumed this drawing; for a long time now people have been asking me if I'd considered making a film of me in action (drawing that is). When I came across this drawing I felt it could be used to show how I go about cross hatching. So, that's what I did - I say that's what 'I' did but I actually mean that's what a friend with the technology and know-how did.  Thanks Tim!

You can see the film in my last blog post or HERE.

Plus, you can get your hands on this drawing, and film star (haven't you always wanted to get your hands on a film star?),  as it is for sale in my little Etsy shop HERE.

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12. Female artists and politics in the civil rights movement

In the battle for equal rights, many Americans who supported the civil rights movement did not march or publicly protest. They instead engaged with the debates of the day through art and culture. Ruth Feldstein, author of How it Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement, joined us in our New York offices to discuss the ways in which culture became a battleground and to share the stories of the female performers who played important but sometimes subtle roles in the civil rights movement.

Ruth Feldstein on the ways artists used their art to advance the civil rights movement:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ruth Feldstein on Lena Horne’s legacy:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Nina Simone as an activist:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ruth Feldstein is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of How it Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement and Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930-1965.

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13. Sony Demands Removal of Open-Source Indie Short ‘Sintel’ From YouTube

Sony Pictures has demanded the removal of the CGI short film Sintel from YouTube due to a claim of copyright infringement. One small problem: they don't actually own anything in the film.

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14. Verdun: the longest battle of the Great War

The battle of Verdun began on 21 February 1916. It did not end until December of that year. It was a place of no advance and no retreat, where national resources continued to pour in, extending the slaughter indefinitely. Paul Jankowski, leading French historian and author of Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, examines Verdun in a new, unique way, using both French and German sources with equal weight. Jankowski questions why Verdun holds such a high status in World War I when it sparked no political changes, had an indecisive outcome, and was not the bloodiest of the war. He explains not only the total history of the battle, including leaders, plans, technology, and combat, but also analyzes and stresses the soldiers’ experiences and the impact of war on national memory.

Why did the battle of Verdun begin?

Click here to view the embedded video.

“Verdun:a hell that was all its own.” – Paul Jankowski

Click here to view the embedded video.


“Nobody could win…but nobody could afford to lose…” – Paul Jankowski

Click here to view the embedded video.


Results of Verdun

Click here to view the embedded video.


Paul Jankowski is Raymond Ginger Professor of History at Brandeis University. His many books include Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, Stavinksy: A Confidence Man in the Republic of Virtue and Shades of Indignation: Political Scandals in France, Past and Present.

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15. How To Write Your Name


Lots of people tell me that when they buy a new sketchbook (especially something like a Moleskine) they get new sketchbook nerves; the fear of the blank sketchbook. I'm quite the opposite. I can hardly wait to get it home before unwrapping it and laying my pen on the paper - that is why I have a hundred unfinished sketchbooks, though.
So, with those of you in mind, and for all of you guys who are starting the new semester of Sketchbook Skool and getting your school bags ready, here's a little video that'll take away the fear. See starting your sketchbook as an exercise too. Hope this helps!

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16. Tiny stories

One of the questions I was asked recently by a young fan (whoa, I have those!) is what things I am watching on YouTube. Which made me doubly excited, because a) this young fan had looked at my bio, and b) I got to talk about cool stuff I’m watching online. I love short stories, written or otherwise. Regardless of the medium, it takes a particular skill and cleverness to make you care about characters, or invest in a narrative in a compressed amount of time. While there are plenty of amazing live-action short films out there, I’ve chosen a handful of my favourite animated shorts, some of which are clever, funny, moving, inspiring, or simply a diverting couple of minutes from the real world. Like the best books, what they all have in common is that they made me want to re-visit them as soon as I had finished, and they made me want to share them with everyone I know.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Possibly one of the cutest things ever. Featuring a ‘dog’ named Allen.

Pigeon: Impossible

Bond meets Stop the Pigeon (if you can’t remember Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, look that up on YouTube as well).

[For the month of June, I will be writer-in-resident at the fab Inside a Dog - you can read the rest of this post here]


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17. Madison Beer Interview

Madison Beer

Meet Madison Beer, Internet singing star!

15-year-old Madison Beer got her first big break when Justin Bieber tweeted one of her videos to his millions of followers, and since then she has been working on her first studio album (oh, yeah, and she also recorded “Valentine” with Cody Simpson

. Whaaaaat?!). We chatted with Madison about singing, books, her most embarrassing moment, and more.

Q: What advice would you give to young artists if they wanted to get into the music business?

Madison: Well, I started on YouTube just for fun, really. It was something that I always wanted to do, so it was just me having some fun and messing around. My advice? If a teenager really enjoys singing, like me, I would just go ahead and post stuff on YouTube (only with your parents’ permission). I know that it can be really nerve-racking, especially when you start thinking, “What are my friends going to think? What are my teachers going to think?” You don’t really know how people are going to react. But if you’re confident in the video that you recorded, and if it’s going to make you happy, you should post it.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to perform?
Madison: I think when I started posting videos consistently is when I got really attached to the whole idea of doing it professionally. I’ve always wanted to be a professional singer, but the YouTube stuff made me take it more seriously. I felt, like, compelled to do YouTube videos.

Q: Do you remember the first song you sang as a little girl?
Madison: Yeah. I used to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” all the time. I used to sing that and “God Bless America” all the time.

Madison Beer

Q: What is your all-time favorite book?
Madison: As a child, The Giving Tree was my favorite book. It showed me the importance of sharing and caring for people and, you know, giving and not always being selfish. And I also loved all the Shel Silverstein books. Everybody knows that I’m clumsy, so they all were just laughing. They were like, “Oh, Madison’s back.” — 
En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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18. 17, ART and Paying it Forward

In honor of my baby girl’s 17th birthday today, I am giving YOU, my friends and readers, the gift of HER ART. (isn’t it interesting how close “her art” sounds like “her heart?) Seriously, this girl is hard worker – and gifted with many gifts, including the gift of tenacity. Just months ago, she sat…

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19. Mondo Media Seeks Pitches For Toy-Driven Channel Spindo

After years of producing teen-targeted shows like "Happy Tree Friends" and "Dick Figures," Mondo Media is eyeing the lucrative kids' market by teaming up with major toy manufacturer Spin Master, makers of Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Air Hogs, and Hedbanz.

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20. Content Marketing- 5 Powerful Traffic-Generating Strategies

The greatest way to drive traffic to your website is through content marketing. If you’re not sure what content marketing is, it’s simply a marketing strategy using content to create inbound traffic to you and your website. It’s also the strategy of using effective copywriting techniques to motivate your readers to take a desirable action. Content marketing includes copywriting, SEO writing,

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21. Video Marketing – Hosted or Self-Hosted

Video marketing is a must today. It should be a part of your content marketing strategy. Using video is a great way to generate visibility and motivate visitors to take action. And, almost just as important, video keeps visitors on your site longer. Why does this matter? Google and other search engines keep tract of this website metric. The longer a visitor stays on your site, the better. But

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22. Social media and the culture of connectivity

By José van Dijck


In 2006, there appeared to be a remarkable consensus among Internet gurus, activists, bloggers, and academics about the promise of Web 2.0 that users would attain more power than they ever had in the era of mass media. Rapidly growing platforms like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) facilitated users’ desire to make connections and exchange self-generated content. The belief in social media as technologies of a new “participatory” culture was echoed by habitual tools-turned-into-verbs: buttons for liking, trending, following, sharing, trending, et cetera. They articulated a feeling of connectedness and collectivity, strongly resonating the belief that social media enhanced the democratic input of individuals and communities. According to some, Web 2.0 and its ensuing range of platforms formed a unique chance to return the “public sphere” — a sphere that had come to be polluted by commercial media conglomerates — back in the hands of ordinary citizens.

Eight years after the apex of techno-utopian celebration, a number of large platforms have come to dominate a social media ecosystem vastly different from when the platforms just started to evolve. It’s time for a reality check. What did social media do for the public — users like you — and for the ideal of a more democratic public space? Do they indeed promote connectedness and participation in community-driven activities or are they rather engines of connectivity, driven by automated algorithms and invisible business models?  Online socializing, as it now seems, is inimically mediated by a techno-economic logic anchored in the principles of popularity and winner-takes-all principles that enhance the pervasive logic of mass media instead of offering alternatives.

Most contemporary social media giants once started out as informal platforms for networking or “friending” (Facebook), for exchanging user-generated content (YouTube), or for participating in opinionated discussions (Twitter). It was generally assumed that in the new social media space, all users were equal. However, platforms’ algorithms measured relevance and importance in terms of popularity rankings, which subsequently formed the quantifiable basis of data-driven interactivity wrapped in “social” rhetoric such as following, trending, or sharing. In this platform-mediated ecosystem, sponsored and professionally generated content soon received a lot more attention than user-generated content. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook gradually changed their interfaces to yield business models that were staked in two basic variables: attention and user data. By 2012, once informal social traffic between users had become fully formalized, automated, and commoditized by platforms owned and exploited by fast growing corporate giants. Although each of these platforms nurses its own proprietary mechanisms, they are staked in the same values or principles: popularity, hierarchical ranking, quick growth, large traffic volumes, fast turnovers, and personalized recommendations. A like is not a retweet, but most algorithms are underpinned by the norms of popularity and fast-trending topics.

The cultivation of online sociality is increasingly dominated by four major chains of platforms: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. These chains share some operational principles even if they differ on some ideological premises (open versus closed systems). Some consider social media platforms as alternatives to the old mass media, praising their potential to empower individual users who can contribute their own opinions or content to a media universe that was before pretty much closed to amateurs. Although we should not underestimate this newly acquired power of the web as a publishing medium for all, it is hard to keep up the tenet that social media are alternatives to mass media. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly obvious that the logics of mass media and social media are intimately intertwined. Not just on the level of platforms mechanics and content (tweets have become the equivalent of soundbites) but also on the level of user dynamics and business models; YouTube-Google now collaborates with many former foes from Hollywood to turn their platform into the gateway to the entertainment universe. Newspapers and television stations are inevitably integrated in the ecosystem of connective media where the mechanisms of data-driven user traffic determines who and what gets most attention, hence drawing customers and eyeballs.

This new connective media system has reshaped the power relationships between platform owners and users, not only in terms of who may steer information but also who controls the vast amount of user data that rushes through the combined platforms every day. What are the larger political and social concerns behind deceptively simple interfaces and celebrated user-convenient tools? Where in 2006 the notion of user power still seemed unproblematic, the relationship between users and owners of social media platforms is now contentious and embattled. In the wake of the growing monopolization of niches (Facebook for social networking, Google for search, Twitter for microblogging) it is important to redefine and reappraise the meaning of “social,” “public,” “community,” and “nonprofit.” The ecosystem of connective media has no separate spaces for the “public”; it is a nirvana of interoperability which major players argue for deregulation and which imposes American neoliberal conditions on a global space where boundaries are considered disruptions of user convenience. Common public values, such as independence, trust, or equal opportunities, are ready for reassessment if they need to survive in an environment that is defined by social media logic.

José van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam; her latest book, The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media has just been published by Oxford University Press (2013).

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Image credit: 3D little human character X9 in a Network, holding Tablet Computer. People series. Image by jojje9999, iStockphoto.

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23. On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan Empowerment

While the Nerdist Industries’ arena event at WonderCon this year was ostensibly about the future of the Youtube based pop culture conglomerate, and, indeed, plenty was said about upcoming projects, the question and answer period really expanded into a call to arms for fans to help directly determine the future of pop culture.

mbrittany hardwick panel 1 300x146 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentNerdist founder Chris Hardwick took the stage, joined by panellists Paul Provenza, Troy Conrad, and Matt Bennett, on March 31st, in the lead up to the season finale of The Walking Dead. Hardwick’s job as host of Talking Dead meant there was plenty of frisson in the audience about the upcoming show, and Hardwick teased, but didn’t deliver, spoilers on the show’s finale several times. In fact, he informed the audience that he was about to “get into a car to film Talking Dead” following his WonderCon appearance. Envy at his early viewing of the finale was palpable.

mbrittany chris hardwick 1 300x298 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentWhile Hardwick has a cult following as host of Talking Dead, and also from plenty of Nerdist projects, his presence live is even more dynamic, bringing with it plenty of his stand up comedy background. Since it was also Easter Sunday, Hardwick opened with a relevant quip: “That’s one person who came back from the dead and didn’t do it to rip someone’s heart out. Just put the love in it”. About a thousand attendees found this hilarious. Hardwick showed a promo video preview of upcoming Nerdist projects, often punctuated by applause and cheers from the audience when they recognized an anticipated segment or a celebrity guest coming up on a project, and followed by discussing several of the projects in a little more detail with his panellists.

mbrittany chris hardwick 3 248x300 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentBennet’s new series, currently being filmed, entitled Nerdy Jobs, a play on Dirty Jobs, got particular attention. The series will involve him visiting nerdy “cool” companies like tech industries and comic book shops to give an insider’s view of working there. Hardwick pondered what Bennett would find to say if he visited NASA for the show: “Uh, sorry about your funding?”. Another big push for Nerdist is the launch of a comedy combination of stand up and improv based on the British series concept Setlist, a competition that will tour around the world. As a veteran of stand up, Hardwick was particularly enthused, commenting that forcing stand up comedians into an improv situation is like “looking for the God particle of comedy”. His request to the audience about the upcoming new shows: “Please don’t feel compelled to say horrible things IN ALL CAPS in comment threads”.

mbrittany hardwick panel 2 300x133 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentThis led Harwick to speak for a moment about Youtube as a venue for hosting programming. Though delivered in a comically serious tone, the message had some bite: “No longer do companies tell us what to watch”. It was the first of several comments that indicated that Hardwick still has a lot to say about the role of open access and its giant-killing capabilities in relation to big media. Nerdist Industries, he said, is going to be expanding, but not along the lines of some of their peers on Youtube, who branch out into “piles of channels”; instead, they are aiming for a “hyper-curated partnership” with 6-8 channels and plenty of intensive “cross promotion”. They are also considering a move, based on fan request, to try out video podcasts, though Hardwick is a little skeptical of why people would want to watch them. Demand has been high enough that he’s prepared to yield to the experiment. Upcoming guests for the video podcast will include Seth Rogan, Steve Young, Scott Adsit and “surprises” too. Nerdist will also, finally, launch a major app to link to its content and, even more surprisingly, will be venturing into filmmaking following their purchase by Legendary Entertainment. They hope to work as producers on smaller budget films in this new role.

mbrittany hardwick panel 3 300x131 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentWhile Hardwick was delivering his energetic spiel, Provenza interjected, “Do you ever sleep?”. It was true, Hardwick looked a little peaked. “I have a robot heart”, he intoned, and continued on to the question and answer period. Questions began with a repeat offender from SDCC who Hardwick had once hugged in the past for his super fandom regarding Superman. “Comic Con is about getting super freaked out about stuff you love”, Hardwick reminded the audience (and he would deliver another hug later to a girl dressed as Wario in sympathy with his own Mario Brothers t-shirt). Harwick was then asked what he would do if his girlfriend was found to be “patient zero” in a potential zombie apocalypse. “Oh, I’d shoot her in the fucking head. That’s what you do for your loved ones”, he said without hesitation, to much hilarity, and added that he hoped she’d do the same for him.

mbrittany chris and mario 300x233 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentHe seemed pretty serious about that topic, but not as serious as he became immediately after the question on the subject of open access production. “There is literally no excuse for you not to pursue things that you love now. You are living half a life if you do not pursue the things that you love”, he said, referring to the tools now available for fans and pop culture creators alike. When a middle school teacher asked him for ideas to keep her students interested in pop culture in their newly formed lunch club, he gave a very invested answer, repeating that the most important thing the teacher could do for them would be to get them to “make things”, whether videos, or other media. “Teach them to be creators vs. consumers”, he pleaded, to much approbation from the crowd.

mbrittany chris hardwick 2 278x300 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentOne of Hardwick’s winning qualities that keeps him from drifting too far from his fanbase  due to his ever increasing media success is his earnestness, often placing himself in the role of the fan once more. He described himself as a “lamprey” feeding off the “giant sperm whale” of pop culture products and feeling grateful, trying not to “impose” when working with actors from major shows. The Nerdist panel emphasized again that Hardwick still sees himself as an outsider in the mainstream, and an insider to “nerd” culture, no matter how many celebrity friends he accrues. That lends credence to his requests and his advice that fans continue to interact directly with the things they love through becoming “creators” too.

 

Photo Credits: All photos in this article were taken by semi-professional photographer and pop culture scholar Michele Brittany. She’s an avid photographer of pop culture events. You can learn more about her photography and pop culture scholarship here.

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.

4 Comments on On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan Empowerment, last added: 4/2/2013
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24. Goodreads and Public Humiliation

These are actually two separate things. First, I've finally emerged from my editing cave *throws confetti* and found my publisher had posted my book on Goodreads *throws more confetti*. If you're into sci-fi and want to check it out, or add it to your shelf, you can find it here: BURN OUT on Goodreads. The cover is coming soon! Second (and this one is much more embarrassing), it was my turn this week to subject myself to public humiliation via YouTube. As part of the YA Valentines, a group of authors whose novels debut in 2014, I had to profess my love for chocolate via poetry. I'm sure you can tell how much I hate being filmed, but sometimes you have to suck it up in this business. If you have 90 seconds to spare, check out A Writer's Ode to Chocolate: YA Valentines.

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25. Books at Play


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