the culture and values of social media

Work-in-progress on fashion blogging

Posted: May 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

I have been doing a lot of press lately after I was quoted in the NYT about haul videos (my first post-dissertation project is going to be about fashion bloggers, and it’s hard not to start working on it as a procrastination device.. but I’m really trying not to!). This week, in her review of Sidney Lo’s Taking Pictures of People Who Take Pictures of Themselves” Beth Hughes quotes me:

“The No. 1 use of digital photography is self-portraits,” says Alice Marwick, a doctoral candidate in media, culture and communication at NYU. The portraits posted online reveal “the unarticulated frustration of people who feel their needs are not met by mainstream fashion magazines.” The portraits, with the ensuing comments – nasty and nice – create “a community of fun and creativity in fashion.”

While the majority of the online fashion interaction is among women, often from underserved populations such as those who are plus-size or minorities, Marwick pointed out that the men participating in Superfuture also “are a good example of an underserved population.”

The “#1 use of digital photography” stat, which is overstated, came from two great pieces: Nancy Van House on Flickr, and José van Dijck on digital photography [PDF].

In terms of my unborn work on fashion blogging, I’m interested in several different things: the aesthetics of digital photography and the relationship to traditional fashion photography; conspicuous consumption and what it looks like in the digital age; and how women of color, women of size, feminists, members of religious communities, eco-activists, men, etc. take up fashion blogging as a way to create new discursive formations around fashion, or to serve a need that goes unfulfilled in mainstream fashion magazines. I am starting this research by reading a lot of fashion blogs. My favorite is Threadbared, a blog by two academic women who write about the culture, aesthetics, and discourse of fashion brilliantly. I also like fashion for writers, fashion for nerds, the glamorous grad student and academichic (notice a theme?).

In other news, the dissertation is going well. I’m working on my chapter on self-branding, for which I have been reading a lot on neoliberalism (my favorite book: Aihwa Ong’s Neoliberalism as Exception), the relationship between work and identity, and of course, critical studies of self-branding. There’s a disconnect between what I want to say and what I’m currently saying, which is to say that I have a pretty good descriptive chapter but the argument isn’t really coming together. It’s hard to resist the temptation to put every smart thought I’ve ever had in the dissertation, but it’s bloated enough already.

Onwards!

References:

Ong, Aihwa. 2006. Neoliberalism as exception. Duke University Press.

Van Dijck, J. 2008. Digital photography: communication, identity, memory. Visual Communication 7, no. 1: 57.

Van House, N. A. 2007. Flickr and public image-sharing: distant closeness and photo exhibition. In CHI’07 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, 2722.