curatorial audiences

Everything about BBC’s Question Time is carefully curated; the audience is screened beforehand for their demographics and political bias. On the panel sits industry experts, politicians, popular entertainers, and hosting is the endearing David Dimbley.  Seating arrangement is similar to a contemporary amphitheater. Viewers at home are also allowed to express their viewpoints via Twitter.

Unlike traditional television news stations, one is able to witness dynamic fluidity. Dimbley asks panelists about a current issue, then a response is heard and we get a view of audience reactions. Additionally, we the viewers at home can hashtag are reactions and have further discussions online. Spectators are able to devour this as aesthetically positive – in spite of the involvement numerous interfaces. The behavior is controlled and therefore consistent enough to communicate a sense of community despite conflicting opinions. Livestreaming content is often understood as authentic than what is scripted. I argue here that content alone does not do that, it’s how the curated participatory audience performs in reacting. This can be viewed in how relevant and/or frequent the reactions are.

Henry Jenkins defines “participatory culture” as:

A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby experienced participants pass along knowledge to novices. In a participatory culture, members also believe their contributions matter and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least, members care about others’ opinions of what they have created).

A couple of months ago, Google announced Daydream, a new Android based virtual reality (VR) platform that would work on apps like YouTube. Adi Robertson from the The Verge then released an article titled, Will Virtual Reality Kill the YouTube Comment?  His main point is that VR is supposed to provide a completely immersive experience and Jewish conspiracy theories just takes away from that. There does not seem to be a strong sense of community in YouTube. Once a user is logged in, the desktop interface displays “recently watched” videos and also “recommended”. I wanted to do more research on YouTube’s algorithm on the “recommended” section, but a majority of the results were about how to get rid of them due to the fact they seem sponsored. YouTube content is just another means of sociality, therefore users routinely produce a great deal of content –with an optional regard to value –to be understood as authentic.

The School of Life is a pop philosophy company with a YouTube channel that claims: “We’re about wisdom, emotional intelligence and self-understanding”.  In an earlier video titled Bad Taste, the channel commented: At the School of Life, we’d love our Comment threads to be places of friendship, intellectual exchange, playfulness, meetings and discoveries. We’re very scared, however, of meanness and hatred. The intent is cute; however, it passively tries to dismiss honest discourse on racial prejudice and cultural bias. On the sidebar of an Aeon article page there’s a Socratic question that works to affirm readers’ ethos, but also bring in perspectives that challenge it. The superficiality here welcomes the audience and therefore makes the content seemingly more digestible. Another example that comes to mine is, “slow media” platforms like Vimeo. The ‘Staff Picks’ curate and showcase some of the best quality content from indie/short filmmakers. There’s also a forum for the community to talk about the site itself and their own projects. While YouTube comments can go on for hundreds of pages, Vimeo comment section will get maybe an average of 20 posts. Relevancy here becomes more important than frequency.

What harm is done by acknowledging aesthetics and boundaries?  I imagine there’s would be more lurkers, users who observe for particular agendas and do not feel the need to contribute until their artwork is held up to a certain standard.