What is this ‘My Tribe’ organism?

Browsing through the MyTribe exhibition page, looking at the new contributions and the various comment threads, as well as at the Facebook conversations, it strikes me that this social media experiment called My Tribe is now well and truly alive and kicking as a social media organism.

It has its own ecology, its own etiquette, its recurring characters, intriguing cameos, and every now and then someone new drops in with some unexpected comment or contribution (I am thinking zombies as just one example…)

As some of us have been discussing, its interesting now to reflect upon what this beast actually is.

As one of Kyla’s students has put it in a blog post analysing the learning focus in PP1:

This is all an exercise in understanding online communities and user-generated media — through using Pool as a case study… a model. And that’s something that I can understand and work with. We’re placed in this real-world online environment and interact with real people — and all this collective online interaction constitutes the “text” that we are attempting to understand in this subject.

Mostly when we think about analysing traditional media texts they are easily bounded objects with a set duration and production period: eg 90 minute feature film. They were made by A and B, with C to Z as the audience. Everyone’s role is clear. The nature of the text itself is clear. But ‘mytribe’ as a media object is multifaceted and changing every day, made up of a series of media contributions plus the various threads of dialogue that surround them. How does one contribution, or one comment create space for or invite another? By which I mean, if I show the mytribe community my personal family photo, with an autobiographical text attached, what might anyone else feel emboldened or allowed to contribute?

What are the threads that are developing, in terms of works contributed and/or comments? What styles? What genres? What interactions are crucial? When do comments move from feeling like an artificial forced interaction to something more authentic? If comments are invariably positive, what flows from this?

It is not quite what I expected.

It is bringing your student work to an audience much larger than you could otherwise expect. But the public out there are not distinguishing between those contributions from our students and those from anyone else – the relationship between you as a cohort and these members of the public who invite themselves in, or are invited, to join this community is also intriguing.

These are all things that, as you move towards the end of your Social Media Producer roles, you might want to analyse and reflect upon for yourself – the field of Social Media is so new and your analyses, from your own hands-on experience and involvement, will be of interest to many of your future colleagues in the media industries here and around the world. (And of course it counts towards your assessment in that task for PP1… 🙂 ). If your own Social Media role hasn’t gone as you expected, you could also do well to analyse who, in your opinion, has made crucial contributions to the ecology of this social media ‘text’ and how and why? This analysis then forms part of your important contribution.

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