Last week I attended the University of Nottingham’s “Internet Attractions” workshop, sponsored by the AHRC as part of their “Beyond Text” research programme. Over two days the team examined short-form online media and the fleeting ways they tend to circulate. This was the first of two workshops in the series and focused on ‘user-generated’ content.

The workshop brought together academics from a range of disciplines as well as various media practitioners. Keynote speakers included Professor Barbara Klinger from Indiana University and Hugh Hancock, the Artistic Director of “Strange Company”.

Professor Jon Dovey from the University of West England gave an enlightening paper titled; “Archeologies, Economies and Ecologies” which commented that it’s our attention spans as media consumers that has become ephemeral – rather than the content itself.

Jon dismissed the image of web surfers as “nomadic browsers” – instead using the analogy of foie gras geese, engorged on a diet of force fed data. Mmmm… tasty data.

Another of Jon’s vivid metaphors was that of the internet as a lush rainforest, where only a few trees grow strong enough to form the “canopy” of online media. According to Jon, most net surfers only look down on the top of the forest – while the millions of “organisms” underneath the canopy “crawl around in the mulch”, unnoticed on the forest floor as they search frantically for sunlight.

For my part, I delivered a presentation entitled “Sound and Vision: Online Practices of David Bowie Fans” – which discussed the reconstitution of an AM radio documentary I produced in 2008 by YouTube users.

An example of which can be seen below:

For more information visit http://www.ephemeralmedia.co.uk

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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