Urte Undine Frömming, Steffen Köhn, Mike Terry
This latest issue of the Journal of Visual and Media Anthropology presents four articles and fiveethnographic short-film productions that are the outcome of timely and original digital ethnography research. A range of papers and films examine the important issue of influence in the social media realm, for example scientists communicating via Twitter (Ben Boteler’s essay), or Italian beauty bloggerstrying to make a living off YouTube (Arianna Marin’s paper). Further, two films by Luiza Geraldi Folegatti and Leandro Goddinho focus on contemporary forms of digital activism. They convey how HIV-positive YouTubers and Brazilian Drag Kings use social media in order to raise awareness, fight prejudices and seek to influence public debate.
Luiza Geraldi Folegatti’s King On, Brasil! is a short documentary featuring six Brazilian Drag Kings and their use of social media to share their work, knowledge and performances which in turn strengthen their community. The video consists of screen cast footage of uploaded videos and Skype interviews while they are involved in the transformation process of becoming their character selves. Thus, the film offers insight into strategies of representation, personal experience, and processes of exposure and acceptance.
Since the 1980's the HIV virus, specifically affecting gay men, remains strongly stigmatized within the LGBTQ community. Leandro Goddinho Nery Gomes’ film Positive YouTubers follows four Brazilian HIV positive men who created YouTube channels to talk openly and positively about their status. They are digital activists spreading a new message about the experience of living with the virus. They attempt to show their followers that HIV is no longer a death sentence. Sharing their daily lives they have created a sense of community amongst themselves and online where people are encouraged to interact, learn and exchange their knowledge, worries, and doubts about a subject matter that remains taboo.
Linked: The Influence of Virtual Communities on Physical Spaces examines how social media and virtual communities, like Facebook, can influence the physical environments in which they are situated and which they represent.
It follows the experiences of four residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a neighborhood located in Brooklyn, New York. The residents belong to a Facebook group where members discuss community-related issues, share information about retail establishments, as well as advertise events, goods and services. In the film, the residents share individual perspectives on how their neighborhood, and their perception of it, is linked with their membership to the Facebook group.
María Bethania Medina Padrón’s project Do you feel me? Tales from the front of the ‘latergramers’ tackles the question how non-digital natives, also known as digital- immigrants use the social network Instagram. The educator and author Marc Presky coined the term digital-immigrant in 2001, describing this group as old world-settlers, who had lived in the analogue age and immigrated to the digital world. The short film focuses on a group of both male and female adults between 33 and 37 years from Argentina and Venezuela. The experimental approach explores how the respective interviewees reflects on their use of Instagram, whilst they are simultaneously logged in and use the platform.