Super Smash Bros. Wikipedia

One of the first games I played nonstop as a child was Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. Since the initial release of this Nintendo fighting game, Super Smash Bros. has become an international sensation with a wide, devoted fan base.

The Wikipedia Super Smash Bros. page has been classified as a “good article” that is “semi-protected,” as depicted by the screenshot below:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 7.03.19 PM

This status as “semi-protected” prohibits “edits from unregistered users (IP addresses), as well as edits from any account that is not autoconfirmed (is at least four days old and has at least ten edits to Wikipedia) or confirmed” (Wikipedia). So, editing is not necessarily open to all. A reputation is needed on Wikipedia before edits can be made to the semi-protected page.

As the series has been around for well over a decade, and games are only released every 5 years or so, new information isn’t developing day-by-day or even year-by-year. My guess is that, while collective intelligence can collect novel points of view from numerous people, the Super Smash Bros. Wikipedia page doesn’t really need much help with editing. With this particular topic, it’s fairly easy to be comprehensive, as only 5 games total have been released for the series, and they follow similar game mechanics and styles. Also, a look at the edit history for the page shows that, while edits occur frequently, they normally deal with minor edits like character names or simple descriptions.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 7.22.54 PM

Thus, I conclude that the editors of this page have extensive knowledge of the series and there isn’t a need for a lot of editors to contribute to the page often. There are a lot of distinct editors and edits made to the page, but most of the edits I saw were very minor. Below are some statistics for the Super Smash Bros. Wikipedia page:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 7.28.45 PM

As we can see, there are nearly 2,000 distinct authors. This may seem like a high number, but this page has been around for around a decade.

The content of the page features categories like history, gameplay, music, and development. These topics are very straightforward in the case of Super Smash Bros., and collective intelligence functions more as a system of proofreading content rather than contributing new points of view or opinions.

Four “skills” that Jenkins describes in his report capture the essence of the Super Smash Bros. Wikipedia page: collective intelligence (“the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal”), judgement (“the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information source”), networking (“the ability to search for, synthesize and disseminate information”), and negotiation (“the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative sets of norms”) (Jenkins). Collective intelligence is necessary to accurately portray the history, gameplay, mechanics, reception, and development of the game as a whole. Especially for a short period of time when a new game is released, effective collective intelligence is needed to quickly update the page with accurate and useful information. Both networking and judgement are needed to decide what information is important enough to include on the page; I feel that this Wikipedia page does an excellent job of “trimming the fat” and includes only the most relevant information. Lastly, negotiation is needed solve any arguments that may arise while editing the page; however, I noticed there was significantly less negotiation needed on major topics in terms of content.

I couldn’t locate the external tools found on other Wikipedia pages for analyzing some statistics and user contributions, as shown below by the screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 6.52.45 PM

I was able to analyze the page views, which haven’t changed much over the past 90 days:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 6.54.31 PM

This is expected, as the newest iterations of the game have been released for months now, and not much news regarding the series has come out in the past couple of months. I assume this page is mainly for people who don’t know much about the series, or are looking for specific dates or game descriptions that may be useful.

Overall, the Super Smash Bros. Wikipedia page provides a thorough yet concise overview of the series. Information found on the page can be useful to both prospective and seasoned players. The use of collective intelligence differs a bit on this page when compared to other popular topics; major edits and contributions only appear near the time of the release of a new iteration. However, the use of collective intelligence has helped create an accurate, unbiased overview of one of the most popular fighting games of all time.

Sources:
Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About The New Media Literacies (Parts One and Two).” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. WordPress. 26-27 June 2007. Web. 8 March 2015.

“Super Smash Bros.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

Spongebob Squarepants: From TV Show to Media Giant

Henry Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience,” with each medium making a “unique contribution to the unfolding of the story” (Jenkins). My favorite childhood show, Spongebob Squarepants, distributes important parts of its narrative amongst numerous delivery channels. These channels, which include character Twitter accounts, mini games, and additional online video content, carry the experience of Spongebob from the classic television set to smart phones, tablets, and computers. Spongebob Squarepants has proven itself as a media franchise, generating billions of dollars in merchandising revenue (Wikipedia), and although each medium brings a unique portion of the Spongebob narrative to life, I will focus on the medium I found especially intriguing: the character Twitter accounts.

I was able to find character Twitter accounts for both Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star. Links to the show’s main site are found in the Twitter bios and blue checkmarks next to the names certify that these accounts are actually run by the folks at Spongebob (as opposed to fan-generated). As the main character of the series, Spongebob Squarepants tweets at a rate of around once per day:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 6.42.11 PM

Patrick Star, Spongebob’s best friend and partner in crime, also averages around one tweet per day:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 6.45.28 PM

Game designer Neil Young uses the term “additive comprehension” to “refer to the ways that each new texts adds a new piece of information which forces us to revise our understanding of the fiction as a whole” (Jenkins). Let’s focus on the second tweet from the Spongebob Twitter account screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.06.45 PM

The scene described in the tweet doesn’t occur in any of the television episodes. New narrative content is created with this tweet, allowing followers to envision the zaniness that they’ve come to expect from Spongebob and Patrick. This new text creates a new form of communication with the beloved character of Spongebob. Fans can now tweet directly at Spongebob (@SpongeBob). With this new means of online communication and the new scenes depicted by the tweets comes a new understanding of the Spongebob world as a whole.

These character tweets also add cultural attractors and cultural activators to the transmedia world of Spongebob Squarepants. Levy describes cultural attractors as content that can be linked to “drawing together like-minded individuals to form new knowledge communities”. On the other hand, he describes cultural activators as textual elements responsible for “setting into motion the production, assessment, and archiving information” (Jenkins). The screenshot above from Patrick’s Twitter account contains a prime example of a cultural attractor and activator:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.06.55 PM

This tweet functions as a cultural attractor because it appeals to a certain type of humor. Moreover, followers who find the joke humorous can retweet, respond to Patrick, or respond to other users and form a kind of online community. Additionally, the tweet serves as a cultural activator. Content stemming from the Spongebob Squarepants television narrative is archived online for followers to review. The tweet has the ability to inspire followers to create content of their own, perhaps in the form of a witty response based off events in the series. Here’s an example of a tweet that encourages such a response:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.14.25 PM

To which a follower cleverly responds with a reference from a TV episode, generating engagement (in the form of retweets, favorites) from other Spongebob followers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.14.33 PM

The ability to interact with the two main characters of the series, Spongebob and Patrick, adds a new dimension to the narrative of Spongebob Squarepants. The character Twitter accounts add fresh, humorous content and a new mode of communication with the characters.

Sources:

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>.

“SpongeBob SquarePants.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

The Wide World of Mean Girls GIFs

Mean Girls is an American teen comedy that was released in 2004. It has developed an extensive cult following, and countless GIFs for the film can be found all across the web. 11 years after its release, quotes from Mean Girls (including “You can’t sit with us!” and “On Wednesdays we wear pink.”) are used on all forms of social media and in face-to-face conversations.

In Memes in Digital Culture, Shifman describes memes as “pieces of cultural information that pass along from person to person, but gradually scale into a shared phenomenon” (Shifman 18). A very popular way to generate and distribute memes is through the use of the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). Mean Girls GIFs incorporate all important elements of a meme, inspire a multitude of remixes and mimicries, and vary in semiotic function; their characteristics and usage create a social and cultural phenomenon that still resonates throughout the internet.
mishapIn The Selfish Gene, Dawkins describes 3 components of successful memes: longevity, fecundity, and copy fidelity. Mean Girls GIFs have all 3 of these components. For instance, in terms of longevity, Mean Girls GIFs are very successful. Despite the movie being over a decade old, new memes are still surfacing and older memes are still being spread throughout Tumblr, Facebook, discussion boards, and other parts of the web. These GIFs have a high level of fecundity, as they are quickly and widely distributed thanks to sharing tools offered by social media sites and other websites in general. Because of its digital format, these GIFs have strong copy fidelity (that is, they are very accurately distributed without deterioration of loss of information).
tumblr_n4t1z7T2BD1qj4315o1_500Mean Girls GIFs vary in terms of semiotic function. Some are used as reaction GIFs (like the first GIF listed, which can replace typing something like “I don’t care” or “I’m confident”), while others (like the meme directly above) simply serve as fond memories of the movie. Many Mean Girls GIFs pick out a favorite or memorable part of the film and can be applied in numerous situations. For instance, with a GIF, many people could invite a friend to go shopping by using a line like “Get in loser, we’re going shopping!” while incorporating a fun cultural reference (Mean Girls).

hihi

Due to its widespread popularity, Mean Girls has inspired many repackaged memes, including many examples of both mimicry and remixing. Countless Mean Girls fans have incorporated elements from other series (like Harry Potter) into their mimetic creations. Similarly, many fans have mimicked scenes from Mean Girls (as seen in the spinoff, “Mean Boyz”).

whyindian

An example of mimicry by a GIF pulled from a production called “Mean Boyz,” a Mean Girls parody.

harrypotterremix

An example of remixing. This is from the popular Jingle Bell Rock dance scene in Mean Girls, and the remixer has replaced the faces of original cast with faces of Harry Potter characters.

For my GIF, I picked a scene that I found particularly memorable: the “Plastics” dancing to the Jingle Bell Rock. The GIF wasn’t very difficult to make. First, I imported the video clip from YouTube into Photoshop using the “Video Frames to Layers” option. Then, I selected the portion of the clip I wanted for the GIF, added some text (only visible in certain frames), and saved the GIF using the “Save for Web…” option. I added in the text “*SMACK*” not only because I wanted to somehow make my GIF different from the many others found on the web, but I also wanted something general that could be applied to numerous situations. My GIF may be used when someone aces an impossibly hard test, insults somebody with a clever comeback, or does anything amazing in general.

meangirlssmackGIFs are useful in a variety of situations online, and Mean Girls GIFs are no exception. Mean Girls GIFs have stood the test of time and vary greatly in their semiotic function. As a significant cultural identifier for our generation, they will continue to vary and appear in new mimetic forms.

References

Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.

Shifman, Limor. Memes In Digital Culture. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014. PDF.

GIF Sources (in order of use)

Author: OnePopz
http://metro.co.uk/2014/10/03/10-things-mean-girls-taught-us-about-life-4891920/

Tumblr user: mean-girls-quotes
http://mean-girls-quotes.tumblr.com/post/10736379338/suplainey-when-trying-to-introduce-yourself-to

Blogspot user: a bent piece of wire
http://abentpieceofwire.blogspot.com/2012/07/get-in-loser-were-going-shopping-and.html

Tumblr user: bokunosonzai (inactive account, found image on google search)
http://bokunosonzai.tumblr.com/post/72800257132

Tumblr user: locomootion
http://locomotioon.tumblr.com/post/5686707422/harry-potter-mean-girls-one-funny-gif

YouTube video source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=h81UOjlFmMs