Sunday, April 27, 2014

Social Network Analysis Case Study: London Riots

Social network analysis examines information exchange between individuals or groups. It examines patterns between people and the resources that are exchanged through information control.  These exchanges of information are represented through Sociograms, where the actors, or an individual, group, organization, or institution are symbolized as nodes and the information flow is symbolized by lines connecting the nodes.

For our case study we have elected to study the use of media phenomena of the 2011 London Riot. Between Saturday the 6th and Thursday 11 August 2011, thousands of people rioted in several London boroughs and in cities and towns across England. The resulting chaos generated looting, arson, and mass deployment of police. Social media outlets such as Twitter and Black Berry Messenger were used by rioters to organize events like where to meet up for the riots. Also the authorities used SNA to help them make connections between rioters to track down those responsible. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cultivation Theory

The cultivation theory states that the media can cultivate the ways in which audiences perceive reality.  According Gerbner and Gross, the founders of the Cultivation theory, television has a different kind of power to cultivate audiences than other mass media forms.  Viewers are sucked into “reality” television because they are told the events are genuine, when they are actually completely scripted.  Certain stereotypes are propagated through television, and the audience publicly accepts these stereotypes.  In our case study, we examined three prominent stereotypes: ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.  We used the example of the reality television show, Jersey Shore, to apply the Cultivation Theory because viewers generalize that all Italian-Americans have similar behaviors, when in fact, the behaviors portrayed by the characters are not real.  For gender, we used the example that the general public assumes all nurses are female.  On television, it is rare to see a male portray the occupation of a nurse, but when they are, the character is used as a tool for humor by being questioned about their choice in career, masculinity, and sexuality.  In both television and film, there has been an increasing number of characters that take on the role of a gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual character.  Scientists Sarah Gomillion and Traci Guiliano stated, “Media experiences contribute to individual’s development of their sense of self.”  In a nutshell, the things that both teenagers and young adults see on television can affect how they communicate with others and how they choose friends.  It can influence what they label as “cool” and what does and does not deserve ridicule. In conclusion, people are lured toward their views and opinions of cultures and individuals by the stereotypes perpetuated by television.  Cultivation is not something that can be avoided, as almost every U.S. household dominantly consumes media through television. 

Juan Pablo and The Spiral of Silence

Spiral of Silence is concerned with the majority versus the minority opinion, and states people’s willingness to expressing their opinion if they feel they fit in with the minority. If they feel as though they belong with the minority, they will be less likely to strongly state their opinion in fear of isolation from the majority.

For our case study, we focused on “The Bachelor” and how they depicted the main character, Juan Pablo. At first, he was portrayed as the “ideal man”. As the show progressed, however, his image shifted to being more of a manipulative, sex driven man. This happened likely as a result of the producers illuminating the poor situations in which Juan Pablo created for himself.  In doing so, they created a new majority fan base in which Juan Pablo was cast as a bad man. This then allowed for producers to silence the minority opinion (those who thought he was a good man), in order to let the majority opinion (those who didn’t like him) stand out. People became less likely to vocalize their opinion of Juan Pablo being a good man, and more likely to let others know how poorly they thought of him.

Domestication: The Evolution of the Television

The Domestication Theory is a study of the relationship between technology and society, as well as how technologies are fully adapted into households.  Users adapt to the technologies that integrate into their lives; their responses to these technologies transforms the next generation of electronics.

Arguably the most successful example of technology is the television.  It has gone from being a luxury item to a centerpiece of the modern living room.  In fact, multiple rooms in a household will often feature a television.  A recent evolving of the television is the adaptation into smart TVs, which include apps and other internet-based features.  These apps connect users to streaming music and television shows while using the internet and social media sites. 

In a sense, the television is transforming into a wide-screen smart phone that has been tamed into an important object within the modern American household.

The Evolution of TV

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Google Glass Medium Theory

Medium theory is the idea that one should observe the media in ways that each new medium disrupts traditional forms of communication and reshapes out understanding of social life. For example google glass is a new medium. It integrates all aspects of communication, knowledge and technology. Being that it is a "wearable computer" it provides some of those same functions as any other device but more of "in your face". This new medium produces streamlines media that is instantaneous. It is the new platform for integrated communication. By simple tapping or talking to the "glass", you have unlimited access to chat, video record, map and email. With language translation features , may barriers of communication will be broken. In all, Google Glass can and will unlit market change the "message received.”

Innis, H. (1964). The Bias of Communication. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
A Day with Google Glass | Demo. (2013, May 10). YouTube. Retrieved , from

Diffusion of Innovation: iPad

Apple’s iPad product best exemplifies the validity of Roger’s four key elements in the Diffusion of Innovation theory. The four main factors that assist in the circulation of new innovation and ideas are as followed: The innovation itself, available communication channels, time and social system. At an early stage of the iPad’s advertising campaign Apple began addressing these four elements. Long before the release of an actual tangible product, Apple readily used available communication channels (print, social networking…) to inform the targeted social system (the American public) of its latest innovation: the iPad. This four year time frame prior to the products launch date allowed for the intended audience to easily accept this promised and unseen product. Apple’s strong brand label was repeatedly emphasized in order to reassure the public of the iPad’s credibility. This early advertising created a large number of early adopters. Apple’s excellent exposure and use of the available communication channels has allowed for the iPad to receive vast success, resulting in a rapid and prolong pace of diffusion. The acceptance of the innovation by the American public has given the iPad an opportunity to seaminglessly integrated itself into our social system.

Uses and Gratifications - Part Two, summary

The Uses and Gratifications approach can be used to study many different types of media events and phenomena. Our case study highlighted the use of this approach to examine more closely why users are drawn to and interact with Facebook. Using this theory, communication scholars can examine in greater detail what types of needs users are interacting with the social networking sites to achieve. The theory defines five different types of needs that can be met when interacting with media: cognitive, affective, integrative, social, and escape. The theory can also be used to examine the PBS documentary "Growing Up Online", where Facebook users, most in their teens, used the website to recreate themselves if they were unhappy with any aspect of their real social lives. The theory was found to have some drawbacks, however. The environment and state of the media user as well as the social context of the media is ignored when using this theory to study why people interact with media. In summary, the theory is good for seeing why users actively interact with Facebook, but doesn't consider how the media users chose to interact with, in this case Facebook, may be affecting them.