Spreadable Media and Protests

A range of scholars have been studying protest and its relationship to sharing texts and communicating online—from Brazilian and Egyptian protests to protesting the Olympics and the banking industry in Australia to the Anonymous movement to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Iraq. Check out the following work:

  • Tama Leaver draws on both the Spreadable Media book and Whitney Phillips’ essay for the book in “Olympic Trolls: Mainstream Memes and Digital Discord,” a piece for Fibreculture Journal which uses the Channel Nine Fail group’s protest of the quality of broadcast coverage of the 2012 Olympics in Australia to explore how some groups use various aspects of “trolling behavior” in online spaces but for reasons that differ significantly from how trolling has most commonly been used/understood.
  • In their 2014 Information, Communication & Society piece, “Organization in the Crowd: Peer Production in Local-Scale Networked Protests,” authors W. Lance Bennett, Alexandra Segerberg, and Shawn Walker draw on Spreadable Media’s “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead” to likewise argue that a “large-scale crowd will disintegrate if there is no connection between and circulation across its networks.” Their study looks at “stitching technologies” that connect looser, larger communities to one another to sustain a larger “crowd-enabled network.”
  • Christian Fuchs’ 2013 piece for Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, entitled “The Anonymous Movement in the Context of Liberalism and Socialism” uses video announcements posted by Anonymous activists to examine the “differences between liberal and socialist worldviews” and how both “co-exist, complement each other, and also conflict to certain degrees” within the rhetoric of Anonymous activists. In his analysis, Fuchs examines how Anonymous draws on core principles of “video activism,” referencing Spreadable Media when referring to how these tactics include including posting the videos in multiple locations to increase the likelihood of their being spread.
  • Maria Clara Aquino Bittencourt’s 2013 piece for Revista Eletrônica do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Mídia e Cotidiano (The Electronic Journal of the Graduate Program in Media and Everyday Life), entitled “About Spreading and Convergence on Social Movements: Relations between Mass Media and Social Media,” uses 2013 Brazilian protests to look at “the appropriation of social media made not only by social movements, protestors, and ordinary citizens, but also by the mass media” and the reconfiguration “at technical, social and cultural levels” where content flows between social media and mass media. Her piece draws on/reacts to Spreadable Media as a foundational text to ground her examination.
  • Stefka Hristova’s Radical History Review piece, entitled “Occupy Wall Street Meets Occupy Iraq: On Remembering and Forgetting in a Digital Age,” draws on the white paper that is part of the Spreadable Media project and on the book Spreadable Media to help describe the nature of how “memes” are spread online.
  • Miami University Anthropology and International Studies Professor Mark Allen Peterson draws on Spreadable Media in his piece “How Meme Analysis Can Help Understand The Egyptian Revolution (Not),” on the website for his book Connected in Cairo. Peterson argues against the usefulness of “meme analysis,” arguing that the “meme” concept is problematic and that such analysis misunderstands how culture spreads and what would be most useful to study about that spread.
  • In her paper for the Communities and Social Networks Online Conference 2013, Rosie Cornell studies an informal community that communicates largely online to help identify corruption in the Australian finance sector. The piece, entitled “Banking on Each Other: Online Communities and Collective Action Against the Banking Sector,” draws on Spreadable Media to underscore the importance for this group not just of connecting with one another and coordinating their efforts but on engaging in tactics that spread their message beyond their community.