Wikipedians of the Galaxy

Upon its release in the summer of 2014, the comic book adapted movie Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise success. People knew very little about the source material that the movie was pulling from so it was unexpected that the movie became so wildly poplar so quickly.

The plot follows the adventures of the space outlaw Starlord as he meets and befriends an eclectic group of galactic outcasts and forms the “Guardians of the Galaxy” in an attempt to stop the terrorist Ronan.

While still technically a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie had very little over lap with previously established story lines from movies like Iron Man, Captain America and The Avengers. People wanted to know what exactly this movie was and where it came from. To do this, they did what we all do in times of crisis: They Googled “Guardians of the Galaxy film” and clicked on the first link, the Wikipedia article.

Wikipedia is the ultimate example of what media scholar Henry Jenkins calls “Collective intelligence” (Jenkins). In the case of the Guardians Of the Galaxy Wikipedia page, there have been 726 distinct authors that have made 3,255 edits since the page’s creation on July 16th, 2012. These editors are not employees of Wikipedia and have no actual obligation to moderate articles on the site. They are just normal people who voluntarily contribute their knowledge to the pool of intelligence surrounding each article. The reliability of the site comes from the fact that everyone moderates each other and from Jenkins’s idea of “Judgment- The ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information source” (Jenkins). Jenkins discusses in his weblog the idea that “nobody knows everything, everyone knows something, and what any member knows is available to the group as a whole at a moment’s notice.” (Jenkins). This is seen very clearly in the early stages of the Guardians of the Galaxy article, which was created before the movie came out, and served mostly to give out newly found out information about things like casting, production and plot points.7681007

In the above screen grab, we see part of a Talk Section from April, 2013 where some editors discuss the possibility that Zoe Saldana will play the role of Gamora. They recognize that it is just a rumor and cannot be proven so they can’t put it in the actual article yet.7681039

In this later talk section from August of the same year, an editor cites the official casting lineup as a source saying that Zoe Saldana will in fact play Gamora. It was then agreed upon to add that to the article.

Due to the high number of editors of this page and the heavy traffic the page receives, I would conclude that this is a reliable source to get information about this movie from. The collective intelligence surrounding this one article is astoundingly thorough and well researched. The editors of the Guardians of the Galaxy Wikipedia article exemplify Jenkins’s claim that members of a knowledge community should “trust their collaborators to fill in information they don’t know and challenge their claims about the world” (Jenkins) in order create a reliable and useful space for readers to learn and collaborate.

Sources:

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART ONE).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web.

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART TWO).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web.

Wikipedia contributors. “Guardians of the Galaxy (film).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

The (GIF)t of life

The animated TV show Archer is what one might call extremely “GIF-able”. This is mostly because of the ability of its characters to represent common emotions, thus creating reaction GIFs, and because of the long-running jokes within the show that can be GIF-ed, shared and appreciated among members of the Archer fan base.

Nancy K. Baym talks in her book “Personal Connections in the Digital age” about reduced social cues. Through a study she conducted in 2002 she concluded that “mediated communication is seen as a diminished form of face to face conversation” (Baym) because people in general seem to have a less personal or intimate experience when conversing on the phone or Internet. GIFS serve a unique purpose in the ever-changing world of digital communication as they can somewhat restore social cues to Internet based communication.

Provided by Enertainmentfuse.com user Yaysa Roque

This GIF can be used as a reaction to someone saying something gross, as a comment to a graphic picture or maybe even as a way to emphasize the severity of one’s hangover. Reaction GIFs put a face to the form of communication that notoriously lacks the intimacy of actual face-to-face conversation. They help to specify emotions and avoid miscommunication between writer and reader.

Limor Shifman asserts that “memes maybe be best understood as pieces of cultural information that pass along from person to person, but gradually scale into a shared social phenomenon.” (Memes in Digital Culture, 2014) Archer GIFs exemplify this concept well because certain jokes in the show reoccur throughout the series and GIF-ing them allows them to be easily shared from fan to fan and eventually be shared enough to somewhat loose its exact context and resonate with a larger audience.

An Archer fan might see the above GIF and laugh because it’s a stereotypical Sterling Archer thing to say, as it is a running joke on the show that Archer is extremely egotistical. A random person that has no knowledge of the show might see this and share it just because the self-centered nature of the GIF in itself is funny and could possibly be applied as a reaction GIF in various situations. Provided by Tumblr user marlassinger

Provided by Tumblr user marlassinger

An Archer fan might see the above GIF and laugh because it’s a stereotypical Sterling Archer thing to say, as it is a running joke on the show that Archer is extremely egotistical. A random person that has no knowledge of the show might see this and share it just because the self-centered nature of the GIF in itself is funny and could possibly be applied as a reaction GIF in various situations.

Archer

I made the above GIF because it fits into both categories I’ve just talked about. It could function as a reaction GIF or as “social phenomenon” surrounding the fan base of Archer.

The Perseverance of Skype’s Quality of Astonishment

skype good

“I believe that the “newness” of new technology, its capacity to dazzle us, is always in some sense the product of discourses surrounding it” (Gunning 43). Tom Gunning asserts this in his essay Re-Newing Old Technologies; saying that any sort of wonder we feel from a new technology is ultimately short lived by the individual because once the initial mass appeal is gone, the individual’s interest fades as well. I would argue that Skype counters this argument and retains its uncanny quality even 13 years after its release.

In late 2003, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström revolutionized how, and at what cost, people were able to communicate by creating Skype. Friis and Zennström had previously created the music sharing application Kazaa, which garnered much controversy because it allowed users to illegally, share and download copyrighted music. Due to this controversy, Friis and Zennström sold Kazaa and made Skype.

People were initially unsure of Skype’s credibility because of the creator’s history with Kazaa but once people began using it, it became “The hottest viral marketing phenomenon since Hotmail, according to Tim Draper” (PRNewswire). Skype was, when it first came out, essentially a phone service for your computer that was free and easy to use; a no brainer for those who were remotely technologically savvy. Whether or not people trusted the creators or not quickly became irrelevant because Internet based audio communication quickly became a hot topic.

“Nothing has yet replaced the ritual of picking up the phone and dialing a number to have a conversation, and it’s unlikely that anything ever will replace voice communication the way that email has erased hand written letters. However, [Skype] does provide possibilities for making the calling process more flexible, and most importantly, more affordable.” (Dowler)

Skype’s next move was to introduce its video chat service which is what, I believe, allows Skype to maintain its wondrous effects after all this time. Never before had we been able to look at someone across the world and speak with them in real time. People could see their loved ones that they may have previously had to wait months or even years to see. I think in the back of our minds, when we experience this feeling of reunion or connection when talking to someone over a long distance, we attribute these intense emotions to Skype.

When Skype was first released, people were astonished by this new technology that turned their computer into a phone that they could use for free. Years later, people were astonished by the technology that turned their computer into a digital recreation of a face-to-face conversation with someone they know. The humanitarian aspect of the service that Skype provides is largely the reason it counteracts Gunning’s assertion that a technologies wondrous quality is short lived.

Sources: