Following the more timely examples of the two Mels (here is one, and here is the other) I (somewhat belatedly) have just submitted an abstract for this year’s CSAA conference, which will be held in sunny Canberra. I had the idea months ago but couldn’t wrangle it into a pithy enough form until now, plus it had to be something I could plug in or pull directly out of my thesis, otherwise it would just be irresponsible given that I am supposed to be submitting not too long after the conference, which is in early December. Also, it’s reassuring to see that my suckiness at making up titles is still alive and well.
Snapshots in the City: The Flickr meetup as a site of cultural citizenship
Contemporary digital culture is increasingly characterised by the convergence of social networks, online communities, and public platforms for â€˜user-generatedâ€™ content. One of the effects of this convergence is the remediation as public culture of everyday social practices of material and symbolic â€˜vernacular creativityâ€™. The photosharing network Flickr is a prominent manifestation of this trend â€“ it represents an â€˜architecture of participationâ€™ within which thousands of users explore photographic practice at the same time as they negotiate and participate in the social networks in which their creative content circulates. Some members of the network also participate in local â€˜meetupsâ€™ â€“ offline photographic excursions and opportunities for socialising.
The most active participation in Flickr, then, is a convergence of â€˜offlineâ€™ everyday life in a particular local context with â€˜onlineâ€™ participation in digital culture. This form of participation has transformative effects on both photography as creative practice and vernacular creativity as a means of cultural participation.
In this paper, I draw on a detailed discussion of the Brisbane Flickr Meetup group to explore the ways in which such participation can and does take the form of what, translating Habermas into the language of the cultural public sphere, we might term â€˜episodic publicsâ€™ â€“ the ephemeral and everyday spaces where cultural citizenship is practised.