To what extent do University Students place importance on their future careers when producing their online ‘self-brand’
In an ever-changing technological world, the choices we make online are likely to stay with us for weeks, months and even years. These choices affect our personal self-brands and can also impact our futures, including our career choices. But is this something that University Students are seriously thinking about when they curate their social media profiles?
It is reasonable to say that we are a part of the first generation who is going through university and entering the workforce with such a strong emphasis on social media and self-branding, meaning that we are in some ways facing competing pressures that have not been seen before. What I want to investigate is to what extent do University students place importance on their future careers when producing an online self-brand and how does it impact the way they do it.
Self-Branding is not a new concept, although you could be forgiven for thinking it is. The ideas behind and the ways that we as individuals curate and present our personal brands has drastically changed in the 21st century, but the roots of self-branding can be traced all the way back to the 1920’s (Whitmer, 2019, p. 2). So, if self-branding is not a new concept, why does there suddenly seem to be so much emphasis on its importance? That’s easy; social media.
Every individual social media platform gives us as avid devotees a different platform on which we are able to curate and present our self-brand in (if we wish) a different way. The way we present ourselves on Twitter is likely to be different to the way we do on Instagram, a large factor in this is no doubt the medium that we are using; Twitter uses short written messages of 240 characters or less whilst Instagram focuses on images and videos as the main format of communication.
But while the rise of social media as a tool for self-branding has made it more important than ever to think about the way you present yourself, it has also made it increasingly difficult to brand oneself in a completely and unapologetically authentic way. I mean how can you, when you are constantly trying to present yourself to different audiences who all hold different expectations of you? Nothing is truly private online, so the way you brand yourself can be found by anyone, from family to friends to potential employers, all of which are likely to see your personal content and create a profile of you in their mind before they may have even met you.
These are things which sit at the back of my mind every time I post a photo, tweet or video, unconsciously impacting the way I present myself online. So, if I’m thinking about these things, it is not unreasonable to assume that others are too. One of the main factors that influences my posting decisions is the idea that what I post now may impact my future job prospects, given that I want to eventually work in the media industry, which means that my online presence now is likely to have an impact on my future presence and job prospects.
No matter the career path you wish to take, there is a possibility that your online actions can make or break you. Where it was once the normal suggestion from career counsellors to delete social media such as Facebook altogether, the advice is now largely to create a professional, employable brand for yourself on social media that can demonstrate both your versatility and your consistency as a worker (Gershon, 2014, p. 282). But the process of curating a professional self-brand doesn’t stop once you are hired; it is constantly growing and changing just as your real self.
The fact that being an ‘Social Media Influencer’ or ‘YouTuber’ is now considered a legitimate and highly sought after career says a lot about how social media has impacted the workforce. In fact, ‘YouTuber’ is now ranked amongst the top career choices for young people, outdoing traditional choices such as law, medicine and teaching (Duffy & Pooley, 2019, p. 26). These jobs are no longer the stuff of myths, they are high paying gigs that, whilst in a lot of ways unpredictable in terms of constant employment, can comfortably provide for a single person or a whole family.
These Influencers aren’t the only ones who must curate the ideal online self-brand, as many jobs, particularly in the fields of communications and media, require workers to in some way affiliate (or unaffiliate) themselves with a particular brand, company or ideology online in order to remain successful in their role. This can apply to journalists, social media coordinators, models and even sportsmen, as they endorse, follow and align with the things that not only they personally believe in, but that can have an impact on their career if they don’t.
So with all of this in mind, I want to use existing studies done with university students as to how they use their self-brand to their advantage as well as to conduct a survey of UOW students to find out just how important my peers see their self-brand when thinking about future employment.
Catch ya on the flip side,
Whitmer, JM 2019, ‘You are your brand: Self-branding and the marketization of self’, Sociology Compass, vol. 13, no. 12662, pp. 1-10.
Duffy, BE & Pooley, J 2019, ‘Idols of Promotion:The Triumph of Self-Branding in an Age of Precarity’, Journal of Communication, vol. 69, pp. 26-48.
Gershon, I 2014, ‘Selling Your Self in the United States’, Political and Legal Anthropological Review, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 281-295.
I have never been someone who is quiet about their opinions when it comes to music. And so as the decade comes to a close, it seems only fitting that I rank what I know to be the best albums of the 2010s.
The list began as a Top 10, but then I had way too many ‘Honourable Mentions’ and so it became a Top 25 (still with a few honourable mentions because I’m low key indecisive oops). I also tried to limit myself to one album per artist, but as you will see, this was not a successful endeavor and there are a number of artists with multiple (deserved) appearances. I’m also going to be completely honest – I know that a lot of these albums aren’t necessarily considered the cream of the crop when it comes to musicality, however every single album on this list is here because I associate them with a memory or important time of my life (or I just saw it performed live and it changed me as a person).
It is important to acknowledge that these are my top albums, and so are very skewed towards my personal music taste, which is most definitely centered around pop music. So you will not see the likes of Kendrick and Kanye in this list – I’m not saying they’re not great musicians, they’re just not my personal cup of tea. That being said, I am always open to new music recommendations, so if there is something missing that you believe I would love, I probably just haven’t heard it, and in that case, please please let me know.
Without further a do, here are my Top 25 (and a few extra) Albums of the 2010s
The Wombats: Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (2018)
Look, I do love this album and it does have a lot of great songs (Turn is undeniably the best) – there’s just albums that I love more.
Beyonce: Lemonade (2016)
I’ve never been a huge Beyonce fan (I’m sorry!) but after having to write a piece for uni on this album in particular, I kind of began to understand all the hype. This album is definitely an icon of the 2010s (just not my personal favourite).
LANY: Make Out EP (2015)
As the first of multiple entries from my ride-or-die band of the decade (according to Spotify I spent 177 hours listening to them this year alone), the only reason this is in the Honourable Mentions and not the actual list is the fact that it is an EP and not a full-length album. This EP gave us (arguably) some of the best music LANY has ever released (Made in Hollywood will never not slap) and it will always have a special place in my heart.
25. Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
I’ll admit, this is a weird choice for me. But I have distinct memories of this CD playing on repeat in our family car before the days of Bluetooth, and so I may have formed a slight attachment to the familiarity that this album provided. This was also right on the cusp of Bruno’s transition between pop and R&B and perfectly combines the best of both worlds. Natalie and Locked Out of Heaven will always slap tbh.
24. Troye Sivan: Bloom (2018)
Troye has been one of my favourite artists since the YouTube and TRXYE days, and there is no denying that he has matured astronomically as both an artist and a person since those days. The only reason this is only just scraping into the list is the emotional attachment I have to Blue Neighbourhood (it’s time will come I promise) over this album. Also, I wouldn’t have minded waiting a little longer for the album if it meant getting more than the (brilliant) 10 tracks we did get. It felt wrong to not include this album at all, especially after finally seeing it live, and so here we are at 24.
23. Charli XCX: Charli (2019)
Charli is easily one of the best songwriters and entertainers on the planet, and her ability to collaborate with literally anyone and still keep her unique sound never fails to astound me. Choosing between this and Pop 2 was difficult, but honestly the fact that Gone ft. Christine and the Queens is one of the best songs of 2019 pushed this baby over the line.
22. Halsey: Badlands (2015)
I like Halsey, I really do. She’s one of those artists that I drift away from but always end up coming back to at some point. For me though, that coming back is always to Badlands. I know that most people prefer Hopeless Fountain Kingdom but I just never got into it. Plus 14-year-old me thought Strange Love was the most relatable shit ever even though my life was NEVER like that.
21. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (2019)
Full disclosure: I 100% only jumped on the Lizzo bandwagon this year when she blew up, but boy am I glad I did. The title track of the album is easily one of the best tracks of the decade and her ability to shift between rapping, her stunning vocals and playing the goddamn flute is not something that should have flown under the radar for this long. The only reason this isn’t higher is the fact that I haven’t yet had the chance to emotionally attach myself to the album – it will come.
20. Banks: The Altar (2016)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Banks is one of the most criminally underappreciated vocalists of the 21st century. Fuck With Myself was the first song of hers I heard and ooooooh boy, I was a goner. She has such a unique voice and the way she sings about somewhat taboo topics always has me feeling like a bad bitch.
19. Oh Wonder: Oh Wonder (2015)
I remember first hearing Livewire on one of Connor Franta’s Common Culture compilations and being completely stunned by the harmonies. The combination of Anthony and Josephine’s voices is unparalleled and mixed with the synth style of their music, I always feel like I’m in a dream sequence. This is definitely one of those albums that I forget about for a while and then come back to and wonder why it’s been so long between listens.
18. Hozier: Wasteland, Baby! (2019)
I deliberated over the placing of the next few albums for a long time. Ultimately, the only thing that separates them is my emotional attachment and the memories I associate with each. Hozier is hands down one of the best musicians of the decade and there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the elusive ‘immortals‘. This album places this high largely due to his unmatched lyrical skill and the song Movement. Special mention to Moment’s Silence (Commoner’s Tongue) which isn’t on this album but was on the 2018 EP Nina Cried Power (I count them as the same era) and deserved better.
17. Florence + The Machine: High As Hope (2018)
If Moderation was on this album instead of just being a randomly released single in the middle of tour, this album would 100% be higher. This tour was the first time I was finally able to see Florence live, so I will always have an attachment to this album. I just have more of an attachment to another of her albums (which you will see soon). Having said that, Sky Full of Song and Hunger will always be two of the best songs ever written.
16. The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018)
This was the first The 1975 album release that I was an active fan for, as well as being the first tour I saw them. I have a terrible habit of becoming invested in artists and bands just as their album cycles are ending, and so end up missing their tour – The 1975 is a perfect example of this. I became invested in the middle of the I Like It When You Sleep… era, just after they had toured Australia. But I’m not mad – A Brief Inquiry has the some of the best songs in their discography and getting to experience the anticipation for the first time was pretty great.
15. LANY: Malibu Nights (2018)
What else do you do after a break-up but cut yourself off from the social world and pump out a new album less than a year after the release of your first and then tour the world with 100 shows in 8 months? Because that’s literally what Malibu Nights was. LANY will always be one of the most hardworking bands on the planet and the fan base they have grown is indicative of that. They are the biggest band you’ve never heard of, but not for long (mark my words).
14. Maggie Rogers: Heard It In A Past Life (2019)
I honestly had only heard this album a handful of times before a friend convinced me to review her concert at Enmore and boy oh boy am I bloody glad I did. This quickly became one of my favourite albums, both musically and lyrically. She is America’s answer to Florence and the video of them performing Light On together in South London on a full moon is one of the most spiritual and haunting things you will ever see.
13. The 1975: The 1975 (2013)
The primary reason for the inclusion of The 1975’s first album on this list is my strongly held belief that this will become one of the classic albums of my generation. There is not a bad song on this album (there are definitely the standouts) and I always find myself listening to it without really meaning to. I don’t care how white girl cliche of me it is, Sex will always be one of my all-time favourite songs (14-year-old me also thought this was the most relatable song ever, but there was actually a bit of truth to it this time).
12. Years & Years: Palo Santo (2018)
As far as coherency goes, this is easily one of the most coherent albums of at least the last 5 years. Led by Olly Alexander’s vocals, there is not a bad song on this album, and when paired with the visual element of the Palo Santo short film, which has Alexander play a human used for the entertainment of androids in the fictional world of Palo Santo, the entire concept of the album is made that much stronger. I will always be salty that they never played this album in Australia and I never got to see it live.
11. Hozier: Hozier (2014)
I’ve already spoken about my love for Hozier as a musician, and the fact that his only two albums are present in this list is testament to that. I remember when Take Me To Church first came out and I was still going through my faze of ‘I don’t like popular music because it’s lame’, but then I realised that was dumb because Hozier and this album are both bloody fantastic. It kind of makes me mad that Take Me To Church was the breakout song from this album because while it is a great song, there are so many arguably better songs *cough* To Be Alone and Work Song *cough* that deserved better.
10. The 1975: I like it when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it (2016)
As the highest ranking of the three The 1975 albums, I feel it’s pretty obvious that this is my favourite. The 1975 were my top artist on Spotify in 2016, and a lot of that is due to the release of this album in the same year. Who knows how many times I have played Somebody Else by now (I don’t care how cliche it is, I love that song with my whole heart). This album was definitely more of a pop album than their first, which is probably why I love it so much because I will always be a slut for pop music.
9. Florence + The Machine: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015)
Sometimes I will briefly forget about this album and then I will come back to it and wonder why I haven’t been listening to it on repeat for my whole life. I feel like Florence is one of those artists who never age, only mature, and this album and High As Hope are testament to that. It still has all the theatricality and madness of the first two albums, but there is an air of wiseness and maturity enveloping the entire record. Also, I held Florence’s hand while she sang What Kind of Man in Sydney and it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life, so this album gets an automatic top 10 on that fact alone.
8. Harry Styles: Harry Styles (2017)
The entire reason that it has taken me so long to post this is because I was waiting for Harry’s new album Fine Line to be released before I made my final rankings. And while I do love Fine Line, it could not outdo my love for Mr Styles’s first self-titled album. I was never a One Direction fan because I thought it was lame and now I see how wrong I was because boy am I in love with Harry and his music. From beginning to end, this album is so coherent and is a brilliant piece of work for anyone’s debut album.
7. Montaigne: Complex (2019)
Y’ALL ARE SLEEPING ON MONTAIGNE!!!!!!! Australian music is bigger and better than ever before, and yet Montaigne (somehow) still flies under the radar and I don’t get it???? This entire album from beginning to end is a work of art and Montaigne dares to address topics that most artists would brush aside immediately (I’m talking Stockholm Syndrome and is this all i am good for?). Also, when she toured this album, she played it in order which is something I think more artists should be doing. In conclusion, y’all need to stop sleeping on Montaigne and give her the credit she deserves.
6. Lorde: Pure Heroine (2013)
Similar to Hozier with Take Me To Church, when I first heard Royals I didn’t want to like it because (to be fair) it was being overplayed. But then I eventually realised this was also dumb and I learned to appreciate it for what it was: a damn good song from a bloody talented 17-year-old. And then I also realised that the entire album was incredible and probably listened to it on repeat for days. It kind of shocks me that this album came out so long ago because it still holds up so well. This was the album that soundtracked my early teen years and I will always have a soft spot for it.
5. LANY: LANY (2017)
There is a reason LANY were my Spotify artist of the decade, and that is I love them and everything they do with my whole heart. I honestly don’t know what I love most about this album: the music, the lyrics, the actual band, the fact that this was the first concert I went to solo or all the friends this album and band have brought me. While musically, this isn’t necessarily the best album on this list, the memories and people that this album introduced me to is something I will always be grateful for.
4. Taylor Swift: Red (2012)
I’m not ashamed to say I love Taylor Swift. Fearless was one of the first albums I owned, but I fell off the train a little with Speak Now and came back toward the end of the Red era (I missed the tour again). This album was the perfect stepping stone between country and pop music and clearly shows Taylor’s skill as a songwriter. All Too Well is, I believe, one of the defining songs of the decade. Not gonna lie, I was genuinely shocked that this album came out in 2012 because it still slaps so hard and always will.
3. Arctic Monkeys: AM (2013)
Arctic Monkeys are one of the very few artists on this list that I haven’t seen live and I am still SO mad at myself for not going when they toured earlier this year. I know it kind of became a white, Tumblr girl cliche to like this album, but I 100% unironically love this album and I’m not ashamed to say that. This is one of the sexiest albums ever made to date, and yet it manages to do what all other ‘sex’ albums can’t: it doesn’t objectify women! Plus Alex Turner’s voice is just super hot tbh.
2. Troye Sivan: Blue Neighbourhood (2015)
Watching Troye turn into a fully fledged pop star has been incredible, but this will always remain one of my favourite albums. This album came out at a time when I was struggling with and discovering my own personal identity and sexuality, so seeing a gay, Australian musician who I already idolised achieve such great success was life-changing. I can’t pick a favourite song on this album because they all have their own unique meaning to me personally, but I did literally sob the last time I heard Heaven live, so that’s probably saying something.
1. Lorde: Melodrama (2017)
I don’t think I can sum up in words how much I love this album and everything it means to me. Green Light and Liability came out at the beginning of my final year of school and then the album was released the day after my 18th birthday, so it was inevitable that I would fall in love with everything about it. Where Pure Heroine soundtracked my early teens, Melodrama soundtracked my late teens: my final year of school and the transition to university. Now I’m just waiting for Lorde to tell me when I can progress to the next stage.
A lot has changed in the music world over the last 10 years, but I think these 25 defining albums prove that it was a decade like no other. Here’s to the next 10 years and more great music from these and so many other artists.
Fandom and fan cultures are one thing; participatory fandoms and fan cultures are a whole other ball game. Whilst it is quite easy to be a casual fan of a thing, be it a television show, a musician or even a sporting team, being a fan who actively participates within a fandom (by writing fanfiction, creating fan art or some other means) creates a whole new world of opportunities. But the world of fandom, and the way that fans interact within them, is one which is constantly changing and evolving.
Fandoms and fan cultures are not a new phenomenon. ‘Modern’ fandoms have been around since the late 1890s, with fans of the original Sherlock Holmes books widely credited to make up the first fandom, when they held public mourning’s after he was killed off in 1993 and creating some of the first records of fanfiction as early as 1897. But comparing fandoms of the 19th Century and now is like comparing chalk and cheese. Changes in technology and the internet, as well as the rise of social media, have drastically changed the way that fandoms operate, and individual fans participate. In recent years, fan interactions have been making the move from relying heavily on physical events, such as conventions, to being able to interact with people who share an interest every second of every day through social media. Not only has this made it easier for to fans interact on an international scale, it has also made it easier than ever to access content, be it the original work or fan work, which may not be available in a persons’ native country.
With this change has come the rise of transmedia storytelling and content, which at its most basic level means stories told across multiple media platforms, which can include participatory mediums such as fanfiction (Stein, 2015, p. 196). All of these changes are now allowing fandoms to span across countries and even continents, as fans use social media to find, interact with and create new fandoms.
The Nature of Participatory Fandoms and Fan Cultures
According to Jenkins et al. (2009), participatory fan cultures and fandoms are ones which specifically consist of:
Relatively low barriers for artistic expression and civic engagement
Strong support for creating and sharing these creations with others
Some type of informal mentorship, wherein the more experienced members of the culture pass on their knowledge to the ‘novice’ members
Members who believe that their contributions matter
Members who feel some degree of social connection with one another and care about the opinions of each other
In terms of actually participating within these fandoms and fan cultures, there a few methods which are common among a lot fandoms, particularly those with their roots in pop culture. These can include the creation of fanfiction, fan art and fan videos, physical participation such as cosplaying and attending conventions and forming large online communities on platforms such as Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram, which are used to share these and other creations among fans, and in some cases the original creators, as well as to simply interact with other fans.
SKAM: An International Transmedia Masterpiece
These characteristics and benefits of participatory fandoms and fan cultures are all present in someway within the fandom of the Norwegian web series SKAM(Norwegian for ‘shame’) created by Julie Andem and produced by the government-owned NRK. Heavily driven by participatory fan culture, SKAM is particularly unique as a fandom given the nature of its source content; the show was originally aired clip-by-clip and innovative in its incorporation of transmedia storytelling methods, including Instagram accounts made for the main characters, text conversations that were posted to the NRK website and the integration of YouTube in Season 4, all being done in real time as the characters experienced the events.
The show addresses themes and topics which regularly affect teenagers and young adults, including relationships, personal identity, eating disorders, sexual assault, homosexuality, religion and mental health. It was the raw and honest portrayal of these themes, as well as seeing actual teenagers playing teenagers and dealing with real life situations, that resulted in the show attracting a large (almost cult like) international following, particularly on social media. The original show aired between 2015 and 2017, however the SKAM fandom is in no way dead; the international popularity of the show resulted in the creation of seven adaptions in France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, four of which are currently still in production. The adaptions follow the same premise of the original show, including roughly the same plot, however alterations are made in order to greater appeal to the shows native audiences.
SKAM and its adaptions have attracted significant acclaim for not only their accurate portrayal of teenagers and their experiences which are not always addressed in other media, but also the unique method of transmedia distribution, which shows an acknowledgement of and adaption to changing viewing styles (Bengtsson et al., 2018). Each episode is released in short 2 – 8 minute clips throughout the week (usually in an online format), before being collated in a single episode each Friday. On days without a clip (and sometimes days with clips), there is some other kind of content, usually an Instagram post from one or more characters or text conversations posted to the networks website. This method of distribution gives viewers a fully immersive experience, as they are able to connect with the story anywhere, anytime, on any device. This reflects changes within the TV industry as a whole, with transmedia storytelling becoming a necessary characteristic in order to maintain an active audience in the ever-changing industry (Rustad, 2018).
In order to understand the SKAM fandom and the ways that it is influenced by participatory culture, it is important to have a basic understanding of the shows plot and themes. The original Norwegian series focuses on the fictional lives of teenagers at the very real Hartvig Nissen School in Oslo, Norway (Pearce, 2017, p. 156). Each season follows a different ‘Central’, the character who endures the bulk of the challenges and also the perspective through who the whole season is seen. Each season also focuses on and deals with a few key themes which are relevant to teenagers. For the four seasons, the Central characters and key themes addressed were:
Eva Kviig Mohn – themes of relationships, friendships, trust and personal identity
Noora Amalie Sætre – themes of relationships, sexual assault and eating disorders
Isak Valtersen – themes of sexuality, mental health and masculinity
Sana Bakkoush – themes of religion, relationships and personal identity
Each of the remakes has (so far) followed a very similar structure and plot to the original, sometimes changing the order of seasons or the characters who each season focuses on to greater appeal to their own audience, but always addressing the same themes in one way or another. The production of each remake further emphasises the transmedia nature of the show, as they are produced and aired by different networks, actively utilising platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Watch. SKAM France is the first remake to be renewed past the original four seasons into seasons five and six, partly to address the demand from the ever-growing international popularity of the franchise.
Who’s Watching: Who makes up the SKAM Fandom
There is no single type of person that watches or participates in SKAM or any of its remakes. Whilst the original show was based on the experiences of and designed to address the needs of teenage girls (Rustad, 2018), as the show and its remakes has progressed, fans of the show have come from all corners of the world, usually coming together on social media platforms (especially Tumblr.) to share their thoughts, original content and sometimes just memes relating to the show.
Beginning with season three (aired from October 2016), the show which had up until that point been a relatively small but loved Norwegian show, became a global cult-like phenomenon as the story of Isak Valtersen and his struggle with and eventual acceptance of his sexuality attracted a huge social media following. The theme of sexuality in pop culture is one which is regularly latched onto by fans on social media as it is something which is relatable for a lot of people but not always represented, so it is not surprising that the show quickly ‘trended’ on social platforms like Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube.
Moving into 2017, stories about the show quickly began popping up on websites dedicated to pop culture, and it became one of the most popular TV shows on social media, even going so far as to be the number one live-action TV show on Tumblr in 2017 (beating out the likes of Game of Thrones, Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why). And even though the original show finished over two years ago, the popularity of the franchise is in no way slowing down. At one point in April 2019, six out of the eight versions of SKAM (including the original) were among the top trending TV shows on Tumblr.
Given the very public online nature of the SKAM fandom, its pretty easy to make assumptions about the types of people within the fandom and what it is about the show that interests them, but nothing is certain. In a survey conducted of SKAM fans contacted through Tumblr, 50% said they originally discovered the show through social media, while 40% said that the story line of season three focused on Isak played a significant factor in their initial attraction to the show. This reflects what we already know about the timing of the shows rise in popularity coinciding with season three.
In the same survey, 70% of participants said they considered themselves as part of the SKAM fandom in 2017 or later and only 10% said they became involved in 2015, the year of the shows creation. This can in part be credited to the immense social media following which has been built around the show in the last three years. From personal experience, a lot of the SKAM fandom share similar interests outside of the fandom so tend to already be moving in similar online circles, and it becomes very easy to discover new shows when all your online friends begin posting about them (this is the exact way that I found SKAM – it literally took over my Tumblr feed and I was sick of not knowing what was going on). The popularity of the franchise is not limited to only one or two version of the show either – of the eight versions, five had been seen by over 50% of the survey participants, with the original, SKAM France and the German DRUCK having the highest viewership.
Fanfiction, Fan Art and Fan Vids, Oh My!
The ways in which fans actively participate within the SKAM fandom is not limited to one creative means, with 80% of the survey participants saying they creatively participate within the fandom in some way. The ways in which fans participate can vary from simply running a social media account which is in some way related to the show to literally providing the rest of the fandom with the means to be able to watch the show.
As is generally the case with any pop culture fandom these days, Fanfiction is one of the most prevalent means of creative expression that fans utilise. The SKAM tag on Archive of Our Own has over 5000 works, and there are thousands of other works within the remakes tags on both Archive of Our Own and Tumblr.
Fan art is also common throughout the fandom with hundreds of artists using Tumblr and Instagram to share their works with other fans, who then like, comment and reblog their works, effectively sharing them to an even larger audience.
Perhaps one of the most common (and important) methods of fan participation within the SKAM fandom is the translation of content. Following the rise in international popularity of the show, there was calls for NRK to add English subtitles to the original clips, however due to licensing laws this could not be done. This led a small (but incredibly vital) part of the fandom to begin doing God’s work; translating and distributing the clips and other transmedia content to the international fanbase. For some of the versions, geoblocks mean that for some, the only way to watch the clips is through the means that the translators distribute them, usually through Google Drive’s, YouTube or blogs. In this sense, it is literally the participatory nature of the fandom which has allowed the SKAM fandom to grow into what it is today.
No End In Sight – And That’s A Good Thing
With the announcement of seasons five and six of SKAM France coming in 2020 and other remakes still showing the possibility of being renewed past season four, the SKAM fandom shows no signs of slowing down. Whilst there is still original content being produced, fans will continue to create and distribute their own creative material and the participatory nature of the SKAM fandom will continue to thrive.
Catch ya on the flip side,
(Not all sources were directly referenced in this project but were used as background reading)
Bengtsson, E., Källquist, R. & Sveningsson, M., 2018. Combining New and Old Viewing Practices; Uses and Experiences of the Transmedia Series “Skam”. Nordicom Review, 39(2).
jagodzinski, j., 2008. Television and Youth Culture: Televised Paranoia. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.
Jenkins, H., 2009. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education in the 21st Century. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Krüger, S. & Rustad, G., 2017. Coping with Shame in a Media-saturated Society: Norwegian Web-series Skam as Transitional Object. Television & New Media, 20(1), pp. 72-95.
Pearce, C., 2017. Reality and Fiction in Contemporary Television: The case of Skam. The Drama Review, 61(4), pp. 156-161.
Pearson, R., 2010. Fandom in the Digital Era. Popular Communication, 1(8), pp. 84-95.
Rustad, G., 2018. Skam (NRK, 2015-17) and the rhythms of reception of digital televsion. Critical Studies in Television: The International Journal of Television Studies, 13(4), pp. 505-509.
Spigel, L. & Olsson, J. eds., 2004. Television After TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition. s.l.:University Press.
Stein, L. E., 2025. Millenial Fandom: Television Audiences in the Transmedia Age. s.l.:University of Iowa Press.
Turner, G. & Tay, J. eds., 2009. Television Studies After TV: Understanding Television in the Post-Broadcast Era. London: Routledge.
Changes in technology have drastically changed the ways that society both creates and consumes news. This phenomenon is known as ‘convergent journalism’, which essentially refers to the way that news media is turning to multi-platform publishing, utilising methods such as print media, digital media and social media. In a world where over 3 billion people now have constant access to online news platforms through their smartphones, the move further towards convergent journalism is more important than ever.
While the phenomenon of convergent journalism has contributed to the emergence of ‘digital-native’ news platforms such as Buzzfeed, Mashable and refinery29, ‘legacy’ news organisations are also taking advantage of the new opportunities that convergent journalism provides. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News is one news service which has fully embraced the nature of convergent journalism, with social media, radio, online, TV and a smartphone app all contributing to their constant news stream. With the ability to constantly update this stream provided by its convergent media methods, its no surprise that the ABC is often one of the first to jump on breaking news stories, quickly sending out convergent journalistic content.
A prime example of this followed the death of Australian serial killer Ivan Milat on October 27th, with a feature story published to the ABC’s website within hours of his death. As far as utilising convergent media practices goes, this story goes above and beyond, primarily using visual imagery through photos and videos to immerse the reader within the story.
The story, whilst it is one that most of the Australian population has heard countless times before, is told from an alternative perspective than what would be considered the usual. Beginning with an account from the sister, Pam Mitchell, of one of his unconfirmed victims, the story then seamlessly transitions to the former NSW Police Commissioner Clive Small before finally transitioning to ABC reporter Phillipa McDonald’s experience of covering the killings. The transition between each of these perspectives is made seamless by the use of photographs, which remain stationary filling the screen, while the text scrolls past them, effectively splitting the story into the three parts whilst also blending the three different perspectives.
The presentation of the story is key to getting the story across, with all of the images as well as the black background working to provide the overall dark vibe that is necessary for a story of this nature. This ‘vibe’ is apparent right from the start, with the header of the web page presenting video footage from the perspective of a car driving down a dirt road at night.
It is important to note that all of the features mentioned above are only present when reading the story on a laptop or desktop computer, with all of the text and images remaining static when viewed on a smart phone or similar device.
this shows that while the ABC has made significant advancements in terms of a move towards more convergent journalism methods, there is still a way to go in order to ensure that the same experience can be provided to people getting their news on both computers and smartphones.
In terms of promoting the story, it was published to the ABC’s social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter, between 7 and 8am the morning after his death, just in time to attract the morning masses of people waking up and checking their social feeds.
Overall, the ABC has made a lot of progress in a media world which is embracing convergent journalistic methods more and more, as shown with the above example regarding the death of Ivan Milat.
For most university students, studying is a stressful, anxiety-inducing time. So it’s no surprise that almost 70% of university students aged between 17 – 25 describe themselves as having poor or fair mental health.
For many, going to university marks a significant change in their lives, unlike any they may have experienced before. Moving out of home for the first time, away from familiar support networks, as well as having increased domestic and financial responsibilities, makes young people going through this experience one of the most vulnerable demographics when it comes to having poor mental health. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most likely groups to ‘fall through the cracks’ in terms of poor mental health being recognised, as the changes in their environment may mean that the changes in their mental health go unnoticed by those around them. This is a major factor in the high rates of depression and other mental illness’s in university students.
While depression and mental health in general are still relatively hidden and taboo discussion topics within society, reaching out and talking about ones mental health with trusted support networks, as well as professionals, can be a helpful coping mechanism. Lucia Pennisi, a first-year nursing student at University of Wollongong has been relatively open about her personal experiences with depression and how it has affected her studies, in the hope that it may encourage others to talk about their own experiences.
“At first I really didn’t accept my mental illness and just thought it was something that I could get through by myself,” she says. “I didn’t want to talk to my family members about it, and then it finally reached a point where I realised that if I wanted to get better I needed to seek help.”
Close friend of Lucia, Caitlyn Moore, has also faced struggles with her own mental health, but has been working to find healthy and appropriate coping mechanisms
“I have tried 5 different antidepressants (so far) and a mood stabiliser. I also seek help from counselors and psychologists, as a major issue for me is feeling like a burden if I talk too much about how I feel and how everything feels heavy,” she says.
“Depression is such an important illness to acknowledge as so often we feel for the people who have broken bones and sign their cast, but we aren’t there for those with impacted brains and mentalities.”
Whilst depression is still somewhat of a ‘hidden’ illness, individuals opening up and sharing their experiences can help others to learn and normalise living with depression.
Fandom culture has always been something that fascinates me. The interaction between a thing, (whether it be a person, TV show, movie or something else) and the people who have a shared, specific interest in that thing is something that is constantly changing and evolving. With the rise of the internet and social media over the last 20 or so years, online participatory fan culture within fandoms is something which has become almost commonplace amongst fandoms of everything from music to TV shows to sport.
Participatory Fan Cultures and Fandoms: What does that even mean?
According to Jenkins (2009), participatory fan cultures and fandoms are ones which specifically consist of:
Relatively low barriers for artistic expression and civic engagement
Strong support for creating and sharing these creations with others
Some type of informal mentorship, wherein the more experienced members of the culture pass on their knowledge to the ‘novice’ members
Members who believe that their contributions matter
Members who feel some degree of social connection with one another and care about the opinions of each other
Given the largely online nature of these types of fandoms, it is not surprising that a lot of their membership is made up of teenagers and young adults. Participatory fan cultures are not only a ‘trivial’ way of creating and communicating with other members of a fandom. There is also the potential for it to curate a ‘hidden curriculum’ which can assist in the learning and socialisation of the teenagers and young adults who make up a large portion of their membership. There is growing research (Jenkins, 2009) surrounding the benefits of participatory culture particularly for these teenagers and young adults, which can include, but is not limited to:
opportunities for peer-to-peer learning
changed attitudes toward intellectual property
diversification of cultural expression
development of workplace valued skills
empowered concept of citizenship
While these are definitely benefits of participatory fan culture, it is also important to acknowledge that there are some concerns surrounding factors such as unequal access to skills, opportunities and experiences and obliviousness to the way that media can shape ones’ perceptions of the world and
In terms of participatory fandom culture, there are a few methods of participation which are common amongst a lot of fandoms, particularly those related to pop culture. These include the creation of fanfiction and fan art, as well as the formation of large online communities on platforms such as Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram, which are used to share these and other creations, as well as to directly interact with other fans.
SKAM: Participatory Fan Culture at its peak
One particular fandom which has been heavily influenced and driven by participatory culture on an international scale is the Skam fandom. Skam was a Norwegian web series produced by NRK, which was aired clip-by-clip while incorporating transmedia storytelling methods, with a majority of the characters having Instagram accounts run by the production team and text chats between the characters, all being posted to the NRK website.
The show addresses themes and topics which regularly affect teenagers and young adults, including relationships, personal identity, eating disorders, sexual assault, homosexuality, religion and mental health. It was the raw and honest portrayal of these themes which resulted in the show attracting a large, almost cult like, international following. Even though the original show finished airing in 2017, the international popularity of the show resulted in the creation of seven adaptions in France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, four of which are still airing. The creation of these adaptions has meant that despite the original show ending almost three years ago, the online fandom continues to be as active, if not more so, as ever.
The participatory culture of Skam and its adaptions extends further than the typical methods of fan participation, largely due to its international nature. As is the case in any international fandom, the language barrier is one which poses a difficulty for participation, but also one which is easily overcome by members of the fandom who are able to, in the case of Skam, translate and re-distribute the clips and text conversations to the rest of the fandom who may not be able to access or understand the originals because of their location. In a sense, it is the participatory nature of the fandom which has made it the global fandom that it is.
As well as translating content, there is also the conventional methods of artistic expression which fans participate in, including fanfiction and fan art, as well as many large, very dedicated, online communities which now tend to span across both the original show and one or multiple remakes. Based on experience, the largest and most participatory of these communities is the Tumblr community, which has a lot of overlap in fanbase across the eight shows. It is this particular community which I want focus my ethnographic research on, specifically looking at the reasons why people are drawn to and remain in the Skam Tumblr fandom, how they participate (whether it be through creating or consuming fan made content) and what sets the fandom apart from others based on its participatory nature.
Ethnographic Study: The Methods
In terms of being able to ethnographically research the Skam Tumblr fandom, I have the distinct advantage that I am already somewhat immersed in the participatory culture of it. Because of this previous and current immersion, I have been able to observe the reactions and creations of the fandom in real time along with the show, as well as directly benefit from contributing to a participatory fan culture.
As it is an online community, I will not be able to directly speak to or meet any members of the community, however I will be able to message and communicate with them through direct messages and public posts from my own account. Using these tools, I am planning to ‘interview’ and survey members of the fandom from literally all over the world, providing a direct insight into how people from different countries and cultures react to and participate in the Skam fandom. When combined with the existing academic research on both participatory fan cultures and the unique nature of the Skam format and fanbase, I am hoping to reinforce the benefits of participatory fan cultures previously mentioned by Jenkins (2009) and discover how Skam has been able to maintain such an international fandom, based on its participatory nature.
Catch ya on the flip side,
References and Background Readings (to be used more extensively in final project)
Bengtsson, E., Källquist, R. & Sveningsson, M., 2018. Combining New and Old Viewing Practices: Uses and Experiences of the Transmedia Series “Skam”. NORDICOM Review, July, ii(39), pp. 63-77.
Jenkins, H., 2009. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, Cambridge: MIT Press.
Williams, B. & Zenger, A. A., 2012. New Media Literacies and Participatory Popular Culture Across Borders. New York: Routledge.
With the (relatively) easy access to things like WiFi, streaming services and smart home devices that we now have, it’s easy to forget a time when we couldn’t access them at the drop of a hat. The introduction of things like the NBN and the rise of online services and devices for homes in the last 10 years has drastically changed the way we as humans function on a day-to-day basis.
In my house, we didn’t have WiFi until I was going into Year 11, and that was only because I told my parents that there was no way I was doing my HSC without internet access (both for studying and binge watching Netflix to get me through). I was somewhat of a rarity among my peers, and it almost became a ‘unique’ identifying fact that I liked to whip out at the most opportune times in hopes of eliciting one of two responses; surprise or pity (I’ll be honest, the pity came in handy for getting assignment extensions).
Getting through the first four years of high school without internet access meant I spent a lot of time at the library abusing their free WiFi privileges and I absolutely chewed through my monthly data allowance on my phone at an almost alarming rate. But I didn’t know any different, so I did what I had to do and I managed to get through, and honestly, being free of the distraction of Netflix was probably a blessing in disguise.
From Year 12 to now, my living situation has changed dramatically. I now live alone in a studio room in student accommodation, 5 hours away from my parents, with unlimited access to WiFi and no one to tell me to get off Netflix when I should be studying. This change in living environments has definitely has impacted the way I use online networks and interact with other people, both near and far.
Now, instead of seeing and talking to my parents everyday, I have to rely on phone calls and instant messaging services, specifically Snapchat. It doesn’t replace seeing someone in real life, but being able to see photos of my mum, dad and grandma in real time, even if only for 10 seconds at a time, is better than nothing. In an essence, my phone provides me with the only real connection with my family that is easily maintained from such a distance.
Sherry Turkle put it perfectly in her TED talk from 2012; “These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone” (Turkle, 2012).
Although made in 2012, this statement still rings true for much of society. Even though we now live in a society where the use of WiFi, streaming services and smart home devices, is commonplace our mobile phones in our pockets will still be or main gateway to accessing all of these services. Whether that is a good or bad thing, time will tell.
As an only child, I never had anyone to watch my kids shows with, and my mum and dad had very different interests in terms of what they liked to watch, so the only time we were ever really likely to be around the TV at the same time was if Collingwood was playing in the AFL, and even that was rare.
According to Livingstone (2009), the TV was historically marketed as a way of an entire family coming together at the same time to watch TV together, even going so far as to adjust domestic schedules to fit the viewing schedules. While this may have been true in the 1950’s when TV was a new and exciting thing, fast forward to the 21st century and its a very different picture, at least in my family.
I was what some may call a ‘privileged child’ growing up, in that we had Pay TV. This meant that I grew up on a television diet of thebest of Disney, with the occasional offering from Nickelodeon thrown in the mix. But to be honest, my clearest memories of watching TV growing up aren’t even at home; they’re with my grandparents.
I used to spend every Friday night with my grandma at their place while my mum and grandpa would go to the raffle. The most vivid experiences I have of these Friday nights was watching ‘Strictly Dancing’ on ABC every week when I was 5. I would make up my own dances and (try to) dance along with the professionals while my grandma would shower me with praise. I even became so invested in the show that my grandma handmade me my own dancing costumes so that I could be dressed up in sequins and glitter just like the dancers on the show (maybe that’s where my glitter obsession came from).
Looking back, its easy to now say that this weekly, dance-filled ritual played a role in my individualisation as a child. Since it’s introduction, the television has played a vital role in the individualisation process for children and adults alike, as it provides the avenues and resources necessary in order to construct ones identity (Livingstone, 2009). At the tender age of 5, I was yet to be widely exposed to the performing arts, but since then I have become fully immersed in everything performative. If I had not been exposed to shows such as ‘Strictly Ballroom’, I may not dipped my toes in the performing arts until much later, altering my personal identity.
The way we view TV has changed again over the last 15 years, with a huge transition towards online viewing and streaming. Gone are the days of frantically running to the toilet in the ad breaks. I could not tell you the last time I watched a TV show with another person, instead preferring to watch my Netflix from the comfort of my own bed, alone and in total darkness.
Catch ya on the flip side,
Livingstone, Sonia (2009) Half a century of television in the lives of our children. The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625 . pp. 151-163.
It’s easy to assume with the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Stan (as well as the ever-present small group of people who continue to choose to illegally download movies) that cinemas may have become a dying industry. But while being able to watch a movie at home, curled up with a blanket and your own not exuberantly overpriced snacks while being free to scroll through your social media may be super appealing, there is a certain charm about cinemas that still seems to be attracting kids, teens and adults by their millions (ABS, 2011).
Going to the cinema is an experience which has evolved over time and has meant different things for different people and generations. For my Grandparents generation, going to the cinema was an event. You couldn’t just rock up in jeans and a t-shirt as so many people do today; you had to wear your best clothes and you had to stand for the National Anthem before the movie. The actual cinemas which they attended were also very different, with the art deco style theatres, drive-ins and open air theatres being the ‘norm’.
The Capitol Theatre, Wagga Wagga. Opened in December 1931, this was the smaller of two Art Deco style theatres in the city while my grandma was growing up.
My parents generation have a slightly different connection to the cinema experience. Being one of 6, my mum’s family seldom went to the movies because it was just too expensive. It was an outing generally reserved for special occasions like birthdays. My mum says going to the cinema and visiting the ‘Candy Bar’ was seen as a very American thing. This was also the booming era of the drive-in; my aunty remembers seeing ‘The Sound of Music’ countless times, piled up in the backseat between her siblings at the drive-in.
My first memory of going to a ‘cinema’ doesn’t actually involve a cinema in the context that most people think of them today. The RAAF base in my hometown used to have a ‘cinema’ (I honestly couldn’t tell you if it’s still there) that showed movies super cheap, but you had to have a connection to someone in the RAAF, which we did, and so we saw ‘Finding Nemo’. From what I (vaguely) remember, not a bad movie.
Forum 6 Cinemas, Wagga Wagga. This was (and still is) the only cinema in the city while I was growing up. The building itself still showcases some of the styling of the Art Deco theatres, something which isn’t overly common in modern cinemas.
My mum’s memories of taking to me to the movies as a kid is a little different. According to her, the first time she took me to the movies, I got so scared when the lights went out that I had to hold her hand while she reassured me it was okay. I, obviously, have no recollection of this and don’t believe it actually happened.
These days, my mum is still my favourite cinema companion. While the overall experience of going to the cinema may have changed and evolved since my grandma was a child and again since my mum and her siblings were children, there is one thing which will (hopefully) never change; you’re never too old to go to the cinema with your family.
When writing any kind of project, report or essay, you’re always going to come across difficulties (and if you say you don’t, you’re lying to yourself). Keeping that in mind, I’d like to start this reflection off by saying that I am fully aware that my difficulties with this research project were mostly self inflicted. Personally, I believe two major factors contributed to my difficulties; I underestimated how difficult it would be to source primary (and secondary for that matter) data as well as the amount of time and effort that would need to be put in to completing this project.
Choosing such a specific topic as the role of Student Leaders in campus accommodation when we already had a limited number of people from whom we could source primary data was in no way a smart move. This choice made it incredibly difficult to get primary data, as I believe a lot of people saw the topic of my survey and research and were either confused by it or assumed it didn’t relate to them, so bypassed my survey. This meant that my primary research data was already very small, and with there not being a lot of primary research completed on my topic, a lot of what I was able to use for my opinion piece came from the personal experiences that I was previously aware of myself and my friends. If I was to do this project again I would NOT choose a topic remotely related to accommodation and instead choose something that most students have an opinion on, such as student wellbeing or services.
The second major factor in my difficulty completing this project was my personal motivation and time management. I am shocking at time management, and every time I approach a task such as this I tell myself I’m going to work on it over time and NOT leave it all to the last minute and every time I do the exact opposite of that. You would think after a year and a half of university I would have learnt my lesson but apparently not. Another factor in this was (ironically enough) my role as a Student Leader. This is the first semester I have been a Student Leader and while it has been incredibly rewarding, it has also been incredibly time consuming and exhausting and has definitely taken time away from university and assessments.
While I believe it is important to acknowledge difficulties and failures, I don’t believe there is any point dwelling on them and I will endeavour to take what I have learnt about research and myself as a researcher with me into the future as both a uni student and in the real world.