Community/Genre Studies Drawing on Spreadable Media

A range of academics have focused on very useful case studies that have drawn on Spreadable Media. From Reddit forums, genealogy sites, Flash enthusiasts, and photoshoppers to genres like cat videos and death images to particular studies of the ending of long-running TV series and social media’s role in managing a sports crisis…we recommend you check out some of the work below:

  • James Messe, a researcher at the University of Melbourne ARC Discovery Project on “Digital Commemoration,” provides an in-depth study of the Reddit sub forum “Aww,” dedicated to pictures, videos, and stories of “cute things,” in order to look at complications, negotiations, and questions around spreadability in online social network sites/communities, drawing in part on Spreadable Media. His research is published in the M/C Journal in 2014, entitled “‘It Belongs to the Internet’: Animal Images, Attribution Norms and the Politics of Amateur Media Production.”
  • Andrew M. Peck’s 2014 piece for International Journal of Communication, entitled “A Laugh Riot: Photoshopping as Vernacular Discursive Practice,” draws on Spreadable Media to help describe the environment in which people begin to photoshop a commonly known image, in particular via a case study of the police officer who pepper-sprayed University of California-Davis student protestors.
  • In her ethnographic work on genealogy site and how participation on the site demonstrates the tensions between facilitating a wiki for collective intelligence gathering supported by a for-profit model, Reinhardt University Department of Communication’s Pamela Wilson draws on Spreadable Media’s descriptions of the Web 2.0 business model/rhetoric to set up her analysis. Find her research in full in her 2012 J. Knowledge Engineering and Soft Data Paradigms piece, “An Uneasy Truce: Brokering Collaborative Knowledge Building and Commodity Culture.”
  • In her 2014 M/C Journal piece, Radha O’Meara references Spreadable Media when discussing—what else?—cat videos. See more at “Do Cats Know They Rule YouTube? Surveillance and the Pleasures of Cat Videos.”
  • In her 2013 piece for The International Journal of Cultural Studies, entitled “The Ars Moriendi of U.S. Serial Television: Towards a Good Textual Death,” Miami University’s Dr. C. Lee Harrington references Spreadable Media’s consideration of the moral economy of fans, and particular soap opera fans. For more on Harrington’s own writing for the Spreadable Media project on that subject, see her online essay, “The Moral Economy of Soap Opera Fandom.”
  • In Nicolò Gallio’s 2013 doctoral dissertation at the University of Bologna, entitled Framing Death: La Morte in Diretta, tea Cinema e Media Digitali (in Italian), Gallio turns  the opening words of Spreadable Media around to proclaim, “If it’s dead, it spreads.” The dissertation, which looks at the circulation of images of death in various media forms, includes some consideration of Spreadable Media’s challenges to the metaphors of “the meme” and “viral.” It also references the essays by Grant McCracken and Whitney Phillips for the project.
  • In their essay  “Marking New Ground: Flash, HTML5 and the Future of the Web Arcade,” the University of Baltimore’s Anastasia Salter and the University of California-Santa Cruz’s John Murray draw on Spreadable Media in explaining the popularity of Flash, noting both that media texts designed on Flash are “designed to be passed, remixed, transformed and moved through social networks” but also that much knowledge and material about designing on Flash has also spread deeply within Flash communities. The essay was presented at the April 2014 Foundations of Digital Games conference, held on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.
  • The Tumblr blog “Booth Review” ran a piece entitled “The Role of Social Media in a Professional Sports Controversy,” which looks at the arrest of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay through the lens of Spreadable Media’s introduction, among other sources.