Final Project Proposal

Throughout this semester we have covered a variety of new media trends and how they change how we use the affordances of social media. For my project I would like to focus on virility and how stories, ideas and even current fads spread.

My focus or main tool will be twitter as that is my favorite social media platform, it is also the one that changes the fastest and is the most fluid in its trends. I propose following two verified (twitter’s label for reputable users) sources, one being entertainment or trends and one being news and current events. At this moment I have two main twitter feeds I would like to track the first being Cosmopolitan and the other being CNN.

My goal is to sit down daily and track both accounts daily activity and then record their virility. I will ask the following questions,

  1. Which account posted more, was it frequent throughout the day or grouped together?
  2. Which account got more retweets or shares, mentions and overall response?
  3. Were there any similarities in the stories, if so how were the reporting of the events different?
  4. Which account saw a more positive user engagement? Why might that be?

My goal is to see what type of information a twitter user notices and gives reaction to. For example does a political story about Syria or a “Top 5” blog from Cosmo rake in more web-traffic?

We as a society do most of our day to day activities online but how much of that information do we actually process and are we jaded or indifferent to the current events of the world and more interested in what’s keeping us entertained. By following both these twitter feeds over a month’s time I hope to see overall which twitter account garnishes more regular recognition and engagement. Both accounts are big names in their respective worlds and are widely recognized names.

At the end of the project I plan to answer the following in my final product,

  1. Which account consistently had more user engagement? Was it positive, negative or neutral?
  2. Which account posted more regularly and was that a factor?
  3. Formulate a hypothesis with the collected data as to why one was more favored over the other.
  4. Does this data suggest a change in the type of information we prefer to see online?

Viral posts are a norm online and often we will see the same story told through multiple channels and we all have a favorite source. However is that source a cookie cutter news outlet like CNN or FOX or is it a blog like the gothamist or Cosmo. I hope to gage whether or not there is a preference among twitter users and if so what it is.

The only variation to my project that i am on the fence about is potentially following two types of each account for example CNN and FOX and Cosmo and US weekly to better back up any results i may find. Overall though the general idea is news vs. entertainment.

Class Notes 11/3


  • Professor Belli will be away at a conference Thursday 11/5 (Professor Leston subbing)
  • Bring all books and materials to class on Thursday (working on final project)
  • Professor Belli’s office hours have changed, after this week there will be no office hours on Tuesdays 4-5 until 12/10 (contact her to set up meetings)

Upcoming due dates (HW)

  • 11/7 (Saturday) Proposals for the final project, ask for the feedback that you want! ALL BLOGS MUST BE ON TIME OR THEY WILL NOT BE RESPONDED TO!!
  • 11/9 (Monday) Response Blog, check the schedule for the prompt!!!!
  • 11/12(Thursday) Presentations, again check the schedule for the guidelines, will be based off of revisions and conversations with Professor Belli (hold off on creating those)

Notes on the Final Project

  • Theory and practice project, hands on, experimental
  • Make your proposal as clear and detailed as possible even if you’re unsure, get your ideas out there
  • Engage with the process but be open to change as your ideas develop and emerge
  • We will have multiple in class assignments and check ins
  • Be mindful of the questions in the Proposal
  • Be mindful of logistics and timing
  • Check the final project page (under assignments) for guidance and grading rubric

Class Discussion: Lebduska Article 

Overall we discussed images and how they were juxtaposed to portray Martin and Zimmerman.

Images can be used to manipulate points of views and arguments, think of how images of Martin in a “hollister” shirt were selected when they portrayed him as a victim, and images of him acting like a “typical teen” were used to portray him an as aggressor.

Culture plays a huge part of how we relate to an image, how we relate to it and how we respond to it.

(Page 6) “..images are not things” quote and how without our views, culture, political and social make an image is just an image but how we respond makes it relevant

(page 4) Pedagogy and media stereotypes

Jodie posed the question Can we retrain ourselves to see things differently

(page 5) Myopic lens, bias, the million hoodie march and how people stood in for a stereotype.

By marching in hoodies people of all different races broke the stigma attached to “the hoodie”








Response 9- Viral Videos, Attention Structures, Visual Rhetoric

Every day when you log onto any social media platform you’ll see whats currently in the news, the weather and you’ll also see the current viral sensation. In some cases these are memes in others they’re videos. Take for instance the viral parodies of Drake’s song Hotline Bling over the course of a week these videos have been remixed with all sorts of intent, other dances, pizza making and more. They’re widely known now and every discourse community has had their hand in making a unique one.

So how do these things take off? Why do they take off? In the case of the Drake videos its because they’re funny and people loved to remix them, in other cases like the UC Davis incident of Lt. Pike pepper spraying peacefully protesting students for no reason, the videos go viral out of anger and support for those wronged. Very often on social media we see viral videos of excessive police force, animal abusers and other social justice issues. By sharing the video we show support, solidarity or complete opposition adding our two cents in with the share.

This is the case surrounding the visual component of the Trayvon Martin case. Lisa Lebduska goes through the viral web of images used to play the case out in the media in Racist Visual Rhetoric and Images of Trayvon Martin. “Power and inequality themselves have long been mediated by visual practices across and array of media” (page 1) she introduces the idea that racism, like many other global issues, is amplified and reinforced with the use of social media. When the Martin case hit the media it was met with a firestorm of circulation, prosecution and outrage. Battle lines were drawn and some virally reposted images of Martin as a wholesome family kid who was judged because of what he looked like, while others, including Zimmerman’s defense team, took typical teenage myspace images and blew them out of context in an attempt to make Martin a villain.

One of the most circulated images was the one of Martin and Zimmerman juxtaposed. It shows Martin smiling at the camera, the image of Zimmerman was a 2005 mug shot (page 2). This image was created to push public cry for the indictment of Zimmerman painting Trayvon as cherubic (page 3) and honest, using an image of him in a Hollister brand shirt which is often associated with middle class (page 2). Carefully choosing the image was everything as Lubduska points out it was “a martyred child is easier to convey than the nuanced complexity of a human teen…..” (page 4).

That then ties in to the statement made by Trayvon’s mother Sybrina “People want to make this a black and white issue, but i believe that this is about right and wrong. No one should be shot just because someone else thinks they’e suspicious” (page 3). In the media the story was pitched from as racial standpoint which is why the media in favor of indicting Zimmerman chose images of Martin smiling, with family and doing things like snowboarding over “human teen” behavior photos because doing so would only amplify the stereotypical images also circulating.

Whenever we see an image it is often always accompanied by a story, that story however does not always accurately depict the picture and vice versa. “…Images are not things. They are relationships that we create.” (page 6), this powerful closing is everything. Images are what we propagate them to be, when made viral they can have a lasting and dangerous effect.

Why I write..

Well I could state the obvious here and say I write because I’m told to, because I need to in order to pass my classes and show comprehension. I could also say I write as means of communication, I write in emails and text messages all day long. Really though I write as a form of expression, a form of release. Every form of writing we do is an expression, of a thought, a feeling or an idea.

I have always loved writing, as a kid I would collect dozens of notebooks and pads to scribble in or to write stories. I liked free writing because it was just that, free, nobody could tell me where it needed to be and I loved it. When I was 7 I had my Haiku about snow published in a book. As a teenager I started expressing myself more through poetry and have been ever since. I don’t write often but when I do its significant and relevant to that timeframe in my life.

There has never been a point in my life I remember disliking writing, i’ve always been the kid who excelled in english class and who’s writing skills were praised. Now though i’m writing to expand my skills, my knowledge and my potential to be hired which is why this major is so rewarding to me.

I guess the point is I write because it is apart of me, it’s who I am.

Below i’d like to share a recent poem I wrote for my daughter Ava when she graduated kindergarten this past June.

Download (DOCX, 85KB)

The Syrian Boy [By: Samantha and Pamela]

What is the original context of this image (or images, since there were a series of them)? Who is the “author”? When/where/why was it taken (or created)?

A Turkish photographer took the picture of the boy, Aylan Kurdi  who washed ashore after the raft him and his family were on capsized in the sea. It was taken amid the height of the refugee crisis when thousands of migrants a day were fleeing into neighboring countries in desperation.

What kind of visual imagery does it involve? What type of argument does it make (including its emotional appeal)?

This is raw truth imagery, it called attention to the dire situation involving the refugees. There is little to no regulation on the transportation of the Syrians fleeing and most UE countries are reluctant to help making a humanitarian argument.

What about the remixes of this images? What arguments / appeals are they making?

(via google)

Images, remixes like this one are appealing to peoples emotional side, a call to be a human being. It’s tragic to see or hear of a loss of any child but more and more children like this little boy are dying on this dangerous and long journey out of Syria and through Europe. Many charities and organizations have tried to lend their hand in aiding these people and it provokes you as an individual to take action.


How did this image go “viral”? How did it circulate? Through what networks (social media & otherwise)? How did the consumers of this image become producers of new meaning?

This image was in several press sources. First in European press and then in western world press like the NY Times. Consumers of this image then turned around and shared their take on it, their stance on the issue and their tentative solution to it. Twitter was a big host for this image going viral, so many people retweeted and commented on this image, some conveying shock others disgust.


What meanings did this image taken on? How was it appropriated?

It took on a meaning of desperation, struggle, hardship and consequence. This image became the most powerful in framing the refugee crisis and the end that many families are met with when they try to flee the war torn country.

How did you go about doing your research here? Provide us with the citations / links you are looking at.

Pam and I used google, twitter and news sources like The guardian and Associated Press. We looked at what came up in text and in image and how the authors of those posts conveyed meaning. Some just bringing to light what’s really going on in Europe right now and others calling for humanitarian action and aide for these people who have no means to help themselves.

Meme Presentation


When we think about how we communicate on a screen several things come to mind, text messages, emails, Facebook messages or maybe twitter. What we don’t think about is how these modes of communication change how we send each other information. As it says on page 90 of Chapter Four (Cohen and Kenny) “one of the biggest downsides of digital culture is transmission loss of meaning and depth in text in short messages”. This along with the combination of emoji’s and short speak make us pre programmed to keep it short and get to the point. It also opens the door to miscommunication because how I type something may not be the way its read by someone else, which can either be a funny misunderstanding or something more serious like offending someone.


Download (PPTX, 575KB)

Response 7- Memes

When we think about how we communicate on a screen several things come to mind, text messages, emails, Facebook messages or maybe twitter. What we don’t think about is how these modes of communication change how we send each other information. As it says on page 90 of Chapter Four (Cohen and Kenny) “one of the biggest downsides of digital culture is transmission loss of meaning and depth in text in short messages”. This along with the combination of emoji’s and short speak make us pre programmed to keep it short and get to the point. It also opens the door to miscommunication because how I type something may not be the way its read by someone else, which can either be a funny misunderstanding or something more serious like offending someone.

This idea relates to page 338 of the Gries article where she talks about the consequences of an image as it circulates. When we post something to our social media accounts they’re  no longer ours, they can be reposted and reworked thousands of times and the message we set out to send has now been revised half a dozen times. Think about the most popular memes out there right now and how many captions they can host or how many variations of that same meme you’ve come across in your scrolling. For example this picture has been apart of so many memes,

nick-young-confused-face-300x25665c f2d

Those are just two examples of how that one picture has been used. The two captions are totally unrelated but the picture still applies. When memes like this get changed and circulate they’re breathed new life. In memes like this its mostly for humor. However sometimes like Gries points out on page 342 sometimes images meant to be powerful and leave a lasting impression, like the obama hope poster, get remixed into context far outside their intent. Like the Obamicons which mock or make spoofs of the original content there is no limit to what people can do with something they find online, apps like twitter or instagram clearly state in their privacy policy that once you post it they can do what they want with it.

With the political scene heating up the memes surrounding the candidates are circulating more and more, some hilarious, some a little crude but all making jokes on the candidates campaign. Donald Trump in particular is a popular meme character, with thousands of variations of his face appearing all over social media.




Response 8- Museum of the Moving Image

On Thursday Fola, Pam and I went on an adventure to the Museum of the Moving Image. Previously I had no idea there was a museum dedicated to Media in this way and the Cat exhibit was absolutely hilarious to me. My favorite portion of it had to be where you can suggest emotions or reactions for the cats in the videos, having seen all of them before they’re still hilarious. Though it may seem ridiculous to some, anyone who has an Instagram or Facebook knows that these memes provide a much needed laugh sometimes. I thought it was really interesting to see the statistics of how far and how big an audience these memes have gotten, they’re the most popular thing out there right now.

IMG_1436 IMG_1438 momi_lolcat-2 momi_lolcat

The other cool thing I loved about the Museum was the throwback toys in the Behind the Scenes exhibit. I remember my parents talking about some of those things and evening seeing them when we cleaned out my grandparents house. Its really cool how media and entertainment has progressed over the years.