Sunday, March 12, 2017

Blog Eight - Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics

This week's primary reading, "Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics,"  focussed on emerging media that have given publics the power to become as involved as they would like with current events and online stories.  Zizi Papacharissi studies the balance between affect and ideology among publics.  She discusses the power behind both the technology of online networking and the narratives we create for ourselves.

What I found most intriguing about this subject was how newer platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) have changed the ways in which news is distributed and consumed.  For instance, at one time, people would receive the news and comment among their social group what they thought about a given issue.  These platforms have forever changed the ways in which stories are told and narratives are created.  Papacharissi explains how individuals can now consume the news and present his or her own "take" on that particular subject matter.  

She even discusses how this opens up more discourse on subjects that at one time may have been too sensitive to discuss as openly as they are now.  The topic of Feelings is one of the major differences associated with these new media.  More of a sentiment of true feelings is present in narratives created today.  Social media has allowed for people to tell stories that have personally impacted them in one way or another, which creates stronger bonds among our networks.  

Papacharissi also mentions a couple of  more recent political movements like Occupy and explains how they are all different yet alike in some ways.  She says that emotion is the common denominator.  These movements, she argues, would not gain as much traction if they did not include the emotional factor presented by various online voices.  I agree completely with this.  One way of proving it is by looking at videos and articles that are shared the most online.  Most (if not all) of them have that emotional component mixed within, which is why so many people feel obligated to share it among friends.  

Research in the book suggests that social media increase feelings of engagement among publics.  Social media users are more apt to feel a sense of belonging and fellowship among their networks of friends and acquaintances.  This was not shocking, but it was affirming to know that research does actually back up that statement. 

The section concerning the hybridity of news storytelling practices on Twitter was interesting as well.  It was news to me that the journalistic conventions that I've learned throughout my education in journalism are upheld for the most part among mainstream media on Twitter.  The same virtues that are crucial to news are applied to Twitter streams as well.  I also learned that the characteristic of instantaneity that you would relate more so to Twitter is also closely related to the 24-hour news cycle.  They are both pushing out information as quickly as possible.  Twitter, according to the text, is still ahead of the game when it comes to disseminating news the quickest.

This book was a good read.  I feel like much of what I read were things that I had always thought about but had never seen research to which I could compare my thoughts.  I would recommend this book for anyone who would like to know more about the relationships we make online through social media and how such networks affect our ideologies and our storytelling.

The supplementary journal article, "The Affordance Effect: Gatekeeping and (non)reciprocal Journalism on Twitter," by Groshek and Tandoc, was complementary to the primary reading.  It explained, using examples of certain cases (e.g. Fergusson protests), how such events were tracked on Twitter based on networks and their primary thought leaders.  This further explained the emotional aspect of what gained traction online and how all of those voices were interconnected.  As a person who does not actively use Twitter, I found it interesting to learn about its huge network, all relying on the usage of just 140 characters per tweet.  Those 140 characters can have extremely powerful effects.  

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