Experts look at 'Friending Facebook' in American culture
ASU will conduct a half-day symposium March 25 titled “Friending Facebook: Social Media and the (Re)Construction of Self and Other” to focus on social media and its intersections with all aspects of American culture.
Organized by a research cluster on social media sponsored by the Institute for Humanities Research, the symposium will consist of a panel discussion led by ASU scholars and a keynote address from leading social media scholar Joshua Green, visiting from University of California, Santa Barbara.
“Social media” is the hottest buzzword in business, politics and popular culture, but what is behind all that buzz? Facebook has reached 500 million registered users incredibly quickly, and even turned itself into a verb in the common vernacular: “Just ‘facebook’ me, and I’ll send you directions to the party.” Twitter captivates headlines as the primary method by which celebrities and would-be politicians communicate to the public. Broadcast media executives scramble to figure out how to leverage the YouTube audience, while fending off the threat of freely accessible content.
But is YouTube’s content really free? Is Facebook a great way to stay in touch with friends, or is it a marketing juggernaut collecting detailed personal data and injecting targeted advertising into our semi-private communications? Are these incompatible? These are some of the questions this event will attempt to answer. To do so, the event will bring together scholars from across the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences including Film Media Studies, English and Communication.
An expert on YouTube, networked media and cultural studies, Green will talk on “Cultural Participation in Networked Culture” and will focus on a key characteristic of network culture: the destabilization of categories of participation. Participatory culture has highlighted the slipperiness of the identities forged within what were once taken to be fixed categories, such as professional and amateur, official and unofficial, permitted and transgressive, or producer and audience. Thinking about social media and the new public connections of participatory culture serves as an entry point for a broader discussion.
This presentation will draw on case studies from advertising, fan fiction, YouTube, videogames and Hollywood to explore tensions resulting as various agents wrestle over the limits of acceptable participation. Green's address will combine elements from his previous work on YouTube and his current project on “spreadable media” which emphasizes the role of participation and sharing by individuals in the process of cultural production. Green is the project manager for the Media Industries Project at the Carsey-Wolf Center at UCSB, and was previously on faculty with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Comparative Media Studies Program.
The IHR Social Media Research Cluster is an initiative sponsored by the Institute for Humanities Research to assist research and communication among scholars and to enrich the intellectual climate of the university. Research clusters serve as an entry point for faculty to engage with the IHR’s goals of fostering innovative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. The Social Media Research Cluster examines one of today’s most important phenomena, and does so from humanistic perspectives such as cultural studies, political economy, and literacy and learning.
The Social Media Research Cluster is led by Bambi Haggins from Film Media Studies and Alice Daer of the Department of English, and participants include Aaron Baker (FMS), Scott Ruston (Hugh Downs School of Human Communication) and Michael Green (FMS).
The “Friending Facebook” symposium is open to the public and will take place on ASU’s main campus (Tempe) in West Hall, Room 185, March 25. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m., concluding approximately at 4:30 p.m. The event is free, but RSVPs to IHR@asu.edu are requested to ensure ample seating.