For my project, I created two boards about topics that interest me: the first, about the recent creation and growth of YouTube culture, and the second, about the way superhero stories are told across current media platforms.
YouTube culture was something that I wanted to take a closer look at because I have been following YouTubers and their related projects for quite some time now. My earliest memory using the site comes probably just before I started high school, searching for videos by Charlie McDonnell (aka “charlieissocoollike”), a YouTuber in every sense of the word before the word really became a thing.
In other words, yes, I do feel a vague sense of hipster-like entitlement towards YouTube, and that both validates and bothers me as a human being. This calls for a meme!
In any case, I feel that, as a longtime YouTube user, I’ve seen the culture surrounding the site adapt into something completely different from when it started. What began as a nice video-sharing platform has turned into a full-blown community surrounding Internet celebrities and, in some cases, their professional-quality content (whether with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, mentioned on my board, or with Charlie McDonnell’s more recent forays into short-form filmmaking, which I still find entertaining.) As a result, I wanted to catalog content that illustrated this long-term growth of YouTube culture into what it has become today: a viable new media platform.
In turn, I wanted to do my second board about superheroes across media platforms because, naturally, I love superheroes. I’m fascinated by how the more traditional idea of the superhero narrative has been translated into mainstream culture, especially with the storytelling gamuts that are cinematic universes and multiverses. Notably, I have an emphasis on Marvel-related content on my board, and that’s pretty much due to the fact that I am more of a Marvel fan. I feel that they are one of the most unique content-creating companies in our current media, because their cinematic universe and its related properties are so interconnected. From a fan’s perspective, they are producing content that basically forces people to immerse themselves in as much of it as possible, and that is, to me, a pretty genius move.
In fact, y’know what such genius calls for? Another meme.
Anywho, my process for completing these boards consisted of me making a list of subtopics. For example, under the YouTube Culture umbrella, I wanted to search for some of the ways that YouTubers have gained success beyond their main channels, and as a result I found content about YouTuber book deals, tours, and award-nominations. From these searches, I wanted to include a range of content types that fit my boards, from video, to news articles, to blog posts, to even podcasts. So, to complete each board, I pinned as much content as I could find, and subsequently narrowed down my pins based on which were the most relevant in terms of my general interests, diversity of content type, and specific connection the board topic at large.
I feel that my boards would be interesting both for fans of YouTube culture/superheroes, and for those who aren’t as familiar with these topics. This is because I tried to use my boards to both define and analyze. For example, I described the concept of the cinematic universe on the superhero board with some of my earlier pins, even though a die-hard Marvel/DC fan would likely know about those concepts at length. However, continuing with the superhero board example, I also included content that more directly correlated superheroes with more new media-related technologies, like in the commercial for the AR smartphone app or the articles about superheroes and Internet fan culture. By including these latter pins, I (hopefully) took a more exploratory approach to the modern superhero narrative by cataloging the ways that superheroes are appearing across a broader range of platforms than fans may generally realize. Essentially, I created these boards both for the casual fan and for the more experienced fan, in hopes that a number of people would find them interesting, considering the fact that they’re both about fairly mainstream concepts in our current pop culture.
Overall, this was my first experience using Pinterest, and it was pretty fun! My only complaint regarding the functionality of the site would be the limited affordance of moving pins around on a given board. If I wanted to change the order of my pinned content (which I did, in order to facilitate a more linear reading experience), I had to use the “move pins” button to bring certain pins to the top of the board. So, with only this button to help me, I had to make a list of each pin in the order I wanted, and then go through that list backwards to individually move each pin to the top of the board, resulting in a kind of roundabout, reverse-engineered approach to reordering my content. It’s a difficult process to describe, so if that doesn’t make a lot of sense, that’s probably an indicator of either how novice I am at the Pinterest platform, or how the reordering of pins can just be made a lot easier by adding a “click and drag” kind of feature to the site.
In general, Pinterest never really appealed to me before because it seemed kind of pointless to me; why should collage pictures of food I want to eat when I can just, y’know, eat? However, after participating in this project, I’ve realized that Pinterest can be used as an educational tool, to gather information and categorize ideas. Of course, it isn’t often used this way, and I feel that that’s a reflection on Web-culture today; the Internet is largely seen as a pastime, at least in my experience, especially with the rise of social media. That being said, I think that Pinterest really lends itself to this more educational type of use; yes, one can use it to capture the aesthetic of their ideal future wedding, but one can also use it to define and learn about certain topics by linking content, and that’s really cool. In other words, in tandem with the fun that comes with using Pinterest more socially, it is a useful tool for building networks of interesting content, and that duality is, what I believe, makes it such an interesting and stimulating platform.