I am sitting at Starbucks in Milwaukee waiting for the Association of Internet Researchers conference to begin. The theme of this year’s conference is Critical. I really like this theme. It is simultaneously an acknowledgment of research on Internet cultures that may have been a bit romantic in nature, but also a statement that we are doing real, and legitimate research.
In about an hour I will present a paper entitled Negotiating blended spaces, How Swedish youth are using video sharing sites as a performative arena. The paper discuss how Swedish youth parkour runners mark themselves as members of the parkour community in their videos, but also how these runners experience community and ‘the performative arena’ . I have spent the last couple of weeks interviewing Umeå parkour runners and those interviews really changed my idea of how community works on youtube. Never did I think that community was ‘bounded’ – after all, similar to blog community, users have their own primary spaces/channels. Rather, I was surprised at the fact that these users felt little to no sense of community within the youtube platform. They reported using the site as a repository and as a source of inspiration and information. Possibly because of the active and high quality web page this group has, community is experienced within their own forums in which their videos are embedded. Additionally, a few of the informants reported that videos on youtube were used to initially mark themselves as community members, but once a local community was established the need for posting videos was diminished. This can also be seen in the rate of video uploads compared with the establishment of their club.
Before I run off to register, I wanted to briefly describe an interesting lab moment that I had last week (maybe this should be it’s own post). This is my first ‘real’ conference in a while, so I am a bit nervous. In order to feel well prepared, I gathered up my colleagues and asked them to listen to a mock presentation in the lab. I presented as if I were here, and received thoughtful and very helpful critique. This exercise was great because now I can go up there this morning and feel that the research results I will present flow clearly and the main points have been made. This is the first time that I have prepared this much in advance and I can promise it will not be the last. So to my friends and colleagues in the lab – thank you for your thoughtful and very valuable help!
I am SO excited to be here, and can’t wait to listen to the various sessions. I will blog and tweet my reflections of the conference (and maybe even vlog), so stay tuned!