popular culture and “making do”

In fashion class last week, we discussed Giske’s definition of popular culture. Briefly, he stated that popular culture is “the art of making do with what’s available” (15). Using an example from digital culture class, a student mentioned studying Taylor Swift fan sites, and this is a great example of popular culture. Taylor Swift is not popular culture–she’s, her brand, is a commodity. She is a commodity and as such embodies “an ideology made material” (14). The fan sites, however, are “making do” with what’s available–they are the popular culture. The things available include: TS and various digital platforms that allow the creation of interactive fan sites.

This was a new way, for me, to think about popular culture and I like it because it forces us to consider how people make culture out of what’s available–fashion cultures, digital cultures, etc. As digital media encroaches on more and more aspects of life, we’ll consider digital tools (devices, platforms, etc) as commodities. Sticking with Giske, we’ll need to think about the ideologies embedded within digital commodities. What we do with such commodities, how we use them or “make do” is culture. I’d like us all to think about the ideologies embedded in popular culture–what are the ideologies of ripped jeans (as Fiske explains), or of a weird twitter account?

Of course, commodity producers try to co-opt the production of popular culture, they see what’s being made and turn popular culture into new commodities.

digital bodegas?! and other stuff

A few students asked for me to post readings, readings beyond the ones we do for class somewhere convenient–I’ll try to do that here. These are mostly current articles that speak to the academic and theoretical readings we’re doing for class. Sometimes we’ll read them together in class and discuss.

Starting off, here’s an article about Ted Cruz (no, not THAT story!) and his attempts to retain control of ICANN in the US. ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN manages domain names on the Internet and starting October 1, control of this is suppose to be turned over to the international community.

Two ex-Google employees are trying to break into the bodega business, and people are upset to say the least. We will definitely talk about this article as I think provides a good example of how the jobs created by digital media are not always great for communities, individuals, or the economy in general. What do you think? What would it be like in NYC without neighborhood bodegas? Do you have a regular bodega?

Here’s a great podcast on the problem with algorithms and the inequalities they reproduce and aggravate. Take a listen, especially if you’re fuzzy on what the heck an algorithm is! (no shame in that!)

New York Times has been investigating the ways Russia “influenced” our election using Facebook.  

Another good New York Times article on economic inequality and the weakening of labor using case studies from Kodak (remember film?) and Apple.

If you come across other readings, podcasts, etc you think speak to the issues we discuss in class, send and email and I’ll get it posted!

New Year, New School

I haven’t updated this space since last year, when I started teaching at Monmouth. I am definitely going to miss my sociology and gender studies students, the beach, and the great faculty but I am super excited to start teaching in Digital Technologies and Emerging Media program at Fordham University!

Students can find some class readings under the appropriate class headers above. Looking forward to a great year!