Tumblr: the convergent machine

 

Convergence is ‘the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted’ (Jenkins 2006). This essay will focus on how does convergence affect the relationship between media technologies and audiences, specifically how social networking site Tumblr has accommodated convergent media practices for the audience. Tumblr has been described as ‘part blogging platform part social networking community, and part social media dashboard’ (Mansfield 2012) Launched in 2007 it has slowly grown in popularity. A month on Tumblr sees 507 million visits with 13 billion page views. When compared with websites like wordpress.com, which experiences roughly ten million more users than Tumblr, Tumblr is still receiving 70 million more views than WordPress. Tumblr has become very effecting in allowing its users to participate in convergence. Tumblr has created a participatory culture where uses are able to participate in global activism and citizen journalism, transforming into prosumers and as a result mobilising online and changing the read only culture. The recent acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo has created massive concerns around the users privacy and what will happen to their online identity.

 

With Yahoo recently purchasing Tumblr, many users are concerned with what will happen with their online identities. Tumblr has never been a massive moneymaker, which causes concern as how Yahoo plans to make revenue to justify the 1.1 billion they spent in buying Tumblr. Fleury has stated that “Yahoo is hoping that its purchase of Tumblr will boost traffic to its other properties, such as the photo sharing site Flickr. But the $1.1bn question is: will it also help boost revenue?”(2013). Since it first started Tumblr has never hosted advertisements which Yahoo is already in the process of changing ‘Yahoo would now work with Tumblr to create ads that “are seamless and enhance the user experience”’ (Fleury 2013) which is concerning users that it will change the dynamics of Tumblr in that companies and even other users can sponsor their posts to be shown first which could transform Tumblr into a bidding war.  The joining of Tumblr and Yahoo will mean that users from both platforms will have new ways to access different types of content. Another benefit for Tumblr is that it will be able to develop faster from more diverse resources (Fleury 2013) when new media technologies join together with other media technologies it creates the opportunity for new ways for content to be shared across various platforms and it will be interesting to see what Yahoo and Tumblr do with this new partnership.

 

Convergence has lead to an activism culture on Tumblr, with many bloggers dedicating their posts to social justice issues around the world. Citizen journalism is on the rise on sites like Tumblr. Just within the last week, blogs have been dedicated to showing uncensored photos from the #occupygezi riots in Turkey. These photos have been posted live from all across Turkey, creating a network of collected intelligence that users on Tumblr can access without being censored. What this means for the audience is that it creates more options for them to access content without gatekeepers controlling what content they can see.

 

Everyday Tumblr creating more and more globalised content: ‘What takes off on Tumblr these days often breaks through as viral phenomena on the internet at large…Tumblr is unstoppable’ (Dumenco 2013). YouTube user Mcharris222 created his own remix video of popular Disney movies called ‘A Disney sing-along sequel’ and put it on to YouTube in March 2012. The video went viral when the video was shared on Tumblr, which resulted in thousands of views. Mcharris222 then created another video, ‘Thank you Tumblr ;)’ in April 2012 thanking the users on Tumblr for creating so many views. The audience does not want to be restricted by when they can access their content for example only when a show airs every week.  As Jenkins (2006) describes “desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want”. Social media sites like Tumblr have started to cater to this desire which has been a major par of why Tumblr has been receiving large volume of traffic daily. ‘Tumblr’ has become a bigger Google search than ‘Blog’ (Alfonso III 2013) and is now listed as one of the ten top websites visited worldwide (. Prosumers have been given a platform to which they can share their content and have it reach thousands of viewers.

 

Convergence has affected the relationship between the producers and the audience. The audience is actively creating a participatory culture in that there has been more online mobilization by the audience. At the end of 2011, NBC cancelled the television show Community from returning in 2012. Through sites like Tumblr and twitter, the fans organised a protest outside NBC’S Rockafella Centre, demanding that it be renewed for another season

Then, in arguably the most useful protest of the Occupy movement so far, a group of nefariously bearded Community fans from the dark timeline decided to flash mob NBC and express their disgruntlement – Trumbore (2011)

Eventually NBC responded to the protest and Community was at first renewed for just half a season. The audience has more tools then ever to be part of a participatory culture.  Firefly is well-known for having a very dedicated audience, what could of have happened if Tumblr was around when Firefly was cancelled. Perhaps a different outcome could have arisen ten years ago, that instead of being cancelled the fans could have caused a greater online presence. Platforms like Tumblr are reshaping the relationship between the audience and the industry as it is giving the audience tools to be heard and participate with the content.

 

Media corporations are starting to adapt to the changing relationship between the audience and the creators. Tumblr is being used frequently by the fans of the TV shows to critique of the most recent episodes and discuss up coming episodes. Media industries realise the new power the fans have in the dynamics of a programme.

Loyals are fans, and although they may be in the minority of viewers, “advertisers are increasingly realizing that they be better investing their dollars behind a show that have high favourability rather than shows that have high ratings” [24]. Indeed loyals tend to purchase more products, percentage wise, than do other types of media audience. When these producers court fans and fan communities, the resulting increase in critical praise and profits can also help the media company’ – (Booth 2010)

A new TV show Oxygen has teamed up with Tumblr to infuse their TV show with GIFS made by the fans (Hernandez 2013). Traditionally, GIFS were made by the fans to recap and pray tribute to their favourite part of the episodes, but Oxygen has designed its programme so that each week the fans GIFS will be part of the episode.  The producers have realised that audiences are looking for new types of engagement with their favourite content and have started to allow for that in their programming. Oxygen has transformed its content from a read only culture into a read write culture in that, the audience has freedom to engage with the content in a different way.

 

Recent research about the use of secondary screen use whilst watching television by Neuro insight, MCA Australia and the Seven Television Network has produced interesting results. Their results found that using social media at the same time as watching television programmes increased programme engagement with the audience by 9%. Four times during a programme, the average audience will interact with social media about the programme, which has resulted in details being encoded into the audiences memory (Quancast 2013). This means that the audience are more likely to remember specific elements from the television programmes. Fans then use the social media sites like Tumblr to discuss and reflect on these moments. This affects how producers take on their shows, recently television shows have started to provide their social media accounts information at the bottom of the screen so that their audiences can interact with the content on new channels. Producers are investing a lot more effort to encourage their audiences to participate on social media sites like Tumblr because they have discovered the benefits of using platforms like Tumblr in conjunction with their content.

 

Convergence has affect the relationship between media technologies and audiences in multiple ways, changing the way the audience gains content. The collaboration between different media technologies creates opportunities for new ways for the audience to engage with content. Social networking sites like Tumblr have become instrumental tools for users to be able to engage with their content more effectively. Globally it has given them a stage to share their intellectual property and participate with the content. It has help change consumers into prosumers where they are constantly finding new ways to engage with their content which has resulted in media industries changing the way they let their audiences engage with their content. The users have been given a platform without gatekeepers and censorship which has resulted in the freedom for citizen journalism.

 

Bibliography

  1. Mansfield, H. 2012, Social media for social good: a how-to guide for nonprofits, McGraw-Hill, New York.
    1. Booth, P (2013). Digital Fandom; New media studies. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. 10-20.
    2. Trumbore, D. 2011, Community Flash Mob Occupies NBC Rockefella Centre, collider.com, accessed 23/4/2013, http://collider.com/community-flash-mob/
    3. Hernandez, B A. (2013). Oxygen teams up with Tumblr to infuse TV Shows With GIFS, mashble.com, accessed 2/6/2013, http://mashable.com/2013/04/23/oxygen-tumblr-gifs-best-ink-2/.
    4. Miller, S. (2013). Social Media drives increase in TV programme engagement say studies, Research-live.com, Accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.research-live.com/news/news-headlines/social-media-drives-increase-in-tv-programme-engagement-says-study/4009516.article
    5.  Dumenco, S. 2013, ‘It’s a Crying Shame Tumblr Hasn’t Quite Figured Out Its Revenue Problem Yet’, Ad age, accessed 26/4/2013, http://adage.com/article/the-media-guy/tumblr-s-revenue-problem-a-crying-shame/240806/
    6. Alfonso III, F. (2013). ‘Tumblr’ Now More Popular Google Search than ‘Blog’, Daily Dot, Accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.dailydot.com/news/tumblr-blog-google-search-rankings/
    7. Mcharris222 (2012) ‘A Disney sing-along sequel’, Accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0v-V2_g4rI
    8. Mcharris222 (2012)‘Thank you Tumblr ;)’, accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I-z1ccHns8
    9. Busis, H. (2013). Yahoo buys Tumblr:Should users of the meme machine be worried?. Available: http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/05/20/yahoo-buys-tumblr/. Accessed 7/6/2013.
    10. Fleury, M. (2013). Yahoo to buy Tumblr for $1.1 bn. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22591026 . Accessed 7/6/2013.
    11. Unknown. (2013). #occupygezi. Available: http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com.  Last accessed 7/6/2013.
    12. Quancast. (2013). Tumblr. Available: https://www.quantcast.com/tumblr.com. Last accessed 7/6/2013.
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That whole time I was trying not to trip

945203_10151956973578916_1979946194_nHonestly guys I don’t know what to say, I mean I grew up in a country town with a cow field next to my highschool. The extend of my technology learning at high school was an IT class we had to do in year seven in which all we pretty much learned to do was how to make a printable timetable…groundbreaking I know. I just want to thank Sue, Ted, and Rebecca, I never would have imagined how much I would have loved this subject. And I would like to thank everyone that commented on my posts. You guys help me make it so much better so thanks to maddicook, taraoesterheld, gabriellevking, justdowit, rjpt225, katefrostuowmelissasekulovski, thefreshlyscoopedainsleysappletree, and ohitsthatgirlsblog – you guys were so supportive and super sweet.

Although the bloggies are over I just wanted to give a shout out to some of my favourite blogs: ainsleysappletreejustdowitgabriellevking and jazz tea. I loved your blogs and think you deserve all the awards!!!!

Back to the Blogs

I dont know what blows my mind more: that we are almost at the end of my first semester at uni or the volume of information I have already learnt during my very short time at uni. 

BAM! Said the Lady another best seller for me would hands down be the favourite blog post I have done this year. The topic for that week was about Transmedia storytelling which is interesting in itself, but the realisation that my favourite TV show was a relevant example for Transmedia storytelling which therefore meant I could write about it for my blog post was one of the reasons this was my favourite blog post. The day I published this post my blog received 123 views in one day which completely blew me away. I learnt then that what you write about can drastically change how popular your blog posts can be. If I had instead wrote about a TV show that not a lot of people had heard about I doubt I would have received as many views as I did talking about Castle not to mention so many international views.

Bam! said the lady... views

Never in a million years would I have guessed that in my first semester of uni would be able to talk about any social causes I am involved with but when we studied Clicktivism I was given the opportunity to share about a cause that is very important to me. In writing Awkward moment when they have stereotyped us wrong, I discovered the value of writing about issues and topics you are passionate about. Your posts are more likely to be more influential if you are infested in the topic to even the smallest degree.

Hold on to your mouses, icarly could really happen is easily one of my favourite blogs post. As someone who is trying to make it in the television business it was extremely encouraging to see the amount of people that have “made it ” by posting their video’s on youtube. I was surprised by the amount of likes this blog post received but after comparing my posts, I realised that the amount and type of video’s I used affected the traffic on the blogs.

Awkward moment when they have stereotyped us wrong

My generation has been branded as not caring for politics and social justice and I may be biased but I really don’t think it’s the case. If anything our generation should be stereotyped as not being able to stereotype it. Just last week in my community I participated with 80 other young people in raising money for a home in Nepal that is rehabilitating rescued traffic victims. That event was completely arranged by young people on social media sites such as Facebook  specifically for the young people to raise money.

Many senior secondary school students participate in political and civic activities. Over half of students surveyed in 2004 had signed a petition (55%), while 21% had collected signatures for a petition, and 15% had taken part in rallies or demonstrations. Students differentiated between the various social movements and causes they would support by taking part in a demonstration – Australian Bureau of Statistics

Granted its not every single young person participating, but does the whole population of Australia ever fully participate in a movement.The amount of times during my high school years our elected Student Body Representatives organised fund raisers and created awareness by alerting our entire school to social movements and social injustices. A lot of these events were specifically organised through our year group’s facebook page.  This doesn’t sound like the lazy generation everyone seems to think we are.

Meet my cause: The A21 Campaign.

Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates 27.8 billion USD per year. – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 

Let me just break the stereotype and tell you about this amazing cause. This organisation has started to prevent future victims by creating awareness, protecting the rescued victims by housing them in safe locations, prosecuting the traffickers and making sure they get proper sentences as well as creating partnerships with the local law enforcement. Not only does it do all that, but it provides real ways for our ‘lazy generation’ to participate with the organisations 21 Ways to get involved.

How has this organisation managed to motivate so many young people. By using twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and creating informative videos on YouTube they have created multiple platforms from which young people can get involved. On twitter alone the campaign has currently got around 56,000 followers which shows the awareness it has gained through social media.

A21 TWEET

 Although this could be branded as just being another online campaign, I don’t see this as the case with A21 as they provide  multiple real world ways people can help the cause beyond just Clicktivism. Important online links like The Problem Our SolutionSigns of Trafficking, have been used through out the website to provide the next step  (both on and offline). Social media has opened my generation up to the idea of social change and that we are the ones who can actually change it.

BAM! said the lady, another best seller for me

For a market that is constantly losing its viewing to the internet, there is an popular trend of enhancing your content by creating it in several different mediums and in doing so, giving something to your already dedicated audience as well as possibly attracting a new audience. The television show ‘Castle’ has done an incredible job of transforming itself from a single story into transmedia storytelling, meaning that instead of focusing on one platform fans of  castle now have a universe to explore.

Promo - Season 5

For those who aren’t familiar with ‘Castle’ let me give you the run down. Richard castle is a famous murder mystery novelist who has just killed off his character ‘Derrick Storm’ and is searching for a new character to base his next set of books on. Detective Kate Beckett is investigating a string of murders that greatly resemble the way Castle killed some of his characters in his book. Long story short, Castle ends up basing his next character on Detective Beckett and shadows her cases…Ta Da we have a cop show.

But what is so special about this show? Andrew Marlowe has created a show that is not restricted within the television format. ABC has actually created the novels Castle writes in the show. ‘Heat Wave‘, ‘Naked Heat‘, ‘Heat Rises‘, ‘Frozen Heat‘ and the newest novel to come out later this year ‘Deadly heat‘ are all novels about Beckett’s persona ‘Detective Nikki Heat’ which the audience can actually buy and read. The brilliance of this is that in the books Castle and Beckett’s personas are together (Jameson Rook and Nikki Heat) while on the show they were still doing the romantic dance all shows do with their leads. This meant the fans were getting the best of both worlds which has only increased its popularity and dedicated fan base.  Not only have ABC created the Nikki heat novels, but they have also fleshed out Castle’s previous novels about Derrick Storm and turned them into graphic novels: ‘Deadly storm‘, ‘Storm season‘ and ‘A calm before the storm‘; as well as creating ‘Storm Front’ into a novel. Surprisingly the books are having phenomenal real world success:

The Nikki Heat series is no stranger to the New York Times Best Seller list; the first novel, Heat Wave, debuted at #26, while the second, Naked Heat, debuted at #7. With Heat Rises debuting at #1, it only solidifies proof of Castle’s success in both television and fiction. – The Examiner

This year ABC took it one step further by creating a board game and trading cards. They have even created castles own brand of coffee (for the fans of the show, that is possibly one of the most exciting creations for the castle universe) with flavours like ‘Brewing storm’ and ‘writer’s roast’.

What was once just a television show is now several series of novels and graphic novels, board games, playing cards, calendars, coffee and an increasing amount of merchandise. With multiple fan made merchandise and websites like castletv.net and castle-fans.org (which are run by fans of the show) as well as a growing library of fan written castle fan fictions. The fans have been given a world to explore and a story that is not limited to one platform.

I’m Sorry…Were you still using that?

One of the major markers, I’d argue, is in the participatory capacity of digital media: the ways in which the distinction between producers of media and consumers of media begins to collapse…Once you start contributing and sharing and connecting with the work of those who connect with yours, you’re engaging in something called produsage. You’re in the network. – theory.cribchronicles.com

Welcome to the produsage age! Where every man and his dog have the ability to create and consume. Everyone has the power if they wish to use it. People now have the ability to create new images and ideas and share them over the internet, then have other users change them, re-develop them, make them something greater. Of course the downside to that is if they didn’t want it edited, that’s the cost of sharing intellectual property in the public sphere.

The one of the best examples I have seen for the new relationship caused by produsage is between John Green (author of the ‘The Fault in our stars’) and the Tumblr community. He created the novel, his artifact, which was then made into a painting, which in-turn was transformed into a poster they could sell and was all done by people from different parts of the world. This transaction wouldn’t have been possible with the previous relationship between producers and consumers in that so many people could connect and create. This gives the audience a new gateway to participate with their favourite content whether it is: books, movies, TV shows, comics, YouTube channels, bloggers. They are able to create their own content, whether its GIFs, Fan fictions, or fan art, the produsage age has created a new brand of audience.

Hold on to your mouses, icarly could really happen

I have always had a fondness for childrens television shows, but icarly always annoyed me. As if three teenagers could become celebraties from vlogging; but what does it all actually mean? More than likely you would have heard of Youtube channels like , the Janoskians, Jenna Marbles and Pez films. They all made videos and started posting on Yotube, getting views into the millions like these videos below.

As a result of their popularity the Janoskians have been picked up by Sony (who knows why) and Pez films has been hired to make stop motion ad’s for company’s. All this was achieved without publishers and agents.

This creates opportunities for people like me. I have created and written my own television show and I’m currently doing the circuit trying to get it signed. IF I CANT I can make webisodes post them on youtube and other social media platforms and try to build the popularity online and get it noticed that way. Even twitter is changing the relationship; now you can trend a topic and tag the actor, writer, producer, someone you have never met and there is a good chance they will see it. If you were to do that without twitter, you would have to go through agents, and second in commands etc. It is changing the creative industry as we know it; Artists, writers, film makers, comedians, poets, dancers. They have all been given a platform to express themselves and be heard in the world.

Digitally Amish

amish apple

There may not be a third world war but there is a virtual war between Android and Apple. Android providing a free and open network where the audience can determine how to use the technology compared with Apple, holding tight onto its control of how Apple’s products are to function. The attitude Apple currently has towards its audience and the content it allows and doesn’t allow constantly makes me think of a case study we did on the Amish community.

Now im not saying the Amish are bad, but rather there are pro’s and con’s with that type of lifestyle, in the same way there are pro’s and con’s for both android and apple choices to control their content. It has been discovered that in the Amish community, due to isolation, they are currently facing the problem in the lack of genetic diversity in their community. They controlled their community, limiting what entered their community, although this could be considered a negative, through that control they have prevented the entering of many diseases. Similarly within Apple by restricting the content that is available to their audience they could be reducing the diversity entering their market and the stream of new ideas could affect the “gene pool” of the Apple garden wall. Facebook is struggling to keep up with the new social sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and other new platforms which has created trends of the users getting bored with the ordinary format. Apple could face the same fate if they don’t start competing with androids open network.

In saying that, controlling the content does have its benefits in that it prevents controversial ideas, subjects and content as well as preventing viruses for the audience. But is that enough of a positive to a keep an evolving audience? Apple is going to need to either release their grasp over the content they allow on their products or come up with a new idea that Android just can’t compete with.

 

Futher reading

Amish Community

Android vs Apple