That’s a good point. In my research, it looked like conglomeration was a piece of evidence that confirmed an already-existing belief, rather than causing the belief in the first place. The big uptick in when the media gets talked about as “THE MEDIA” happens around 1991, before deregulation really makes the trend of conglomeration visible to the public. It does, however, correspond to the moment when cable breaks the network’s dominance of TV news, which I argue results in a far greater news hole, and a far greater opportunity for the media to talk about themselves. The public’s perception of the media as an institution results not from people gathering facts about the media independently, but from the media framing itself as an institution. That’s my argument, anyway.
Above are a series of tweets by Marc Andreessen, cofounder of Netscape, that he sent as a way of previewing his firm’s $50 million investment in Buzzfeed. In them, Andreessen makes the argument that trust in the U.S. media has declined over the last 50 years because of Watergate.
For those of us who research trust, this is a familiar argument. But it’s also an inaccurate one.
Anatomy of A Tumblr Trend part 2: the semantic network map
So Tumblr’s got this cool feature where, if you search for a tag, it gives you 3 related tags that are (presumably) most commonly used in combination with your search term.
So I searched for the 2 Tumblr trends I’m currently interested in - street goth and health goth - and followed these links to see what they connected to. This creates a kind of semantic network, a way to diagram how people on Tumblr link different style subcultures, based on the top three most-associated terms neighbouring each term.
The result: my crude map above, scribbled on a piece of paper.
The interesting thing: street goth and health goth aren’t connected.
They link only at the second degree, through “fashion” - which is supergeneric. People aren’t connecting the two terms any more closely.
Instead they split off with their own sets of associations. Health goth gets associated with normcore (K-HOLE’s term that’s been bizarrely adopted by mainstream fashion) and seapunk, the Tumblr trend that broke out into brief celebrity with Rihanna et al last year. This then links up to a much more visually-oriented (i.e. non-fashion) set of concepts - vaporwave, pale - ending up at net art and web art.
Meanwhile street goth is all about Hood By Air and Pyrex (labels), then “blvck”, streetwear, then trill, dope & other street slang.
So it looks like we’ve got here is two separate communities.
What separates them? Funnily enough for two monochrome aesthetics, it’s kind of black and white.
While both tags are a long way from monoethnic, street goth connects into hiphop streetwear culture which draws most directly from black culture. Whereas terms around health goth - normcore, hipster, grunge - are much whiter.
That’s really interesting.
Oh hey great, I got this one.
1) Instead of having song lyrics that are imagistic and aesthetically driven, trying far more to evoke a mood or emotion than to convey specific meaning, have the lyrics tell stories about particular, consistent characters, preferably an ensemble of different characters that hit multiple demographics and sometimes don’t even talk to each other. This way, instead of having an intense, personal experience with a song, groups of people can gather together to watch these stories, and talk about the stories and characters afterwards, while they are waiting to pay for more stories.
2) Instead of having short songs that reward repeated listenings, make songs an hour long and have them fail to resolve narratively at the end, so people will pay a premium to get the next piece of the story as soon as possible, and each song is only worth consuming once.
3) Instead of just talking about sex and violence, actually show the sex and violence. Stop releasing songs as audio and only release videos, and in the videos have a mostly-clothed man give the high hard one to a naked woman while shooting a bunch of dudes and saying something like “you get what’s coming to you.”
4) Instead of having pop music be transparently and joyously about the emotions and experiences of a particular state of openness and vulnerability we choose to call “youth,” have it be self-consciously dark, like the stuff teenage boys are into when they’re play-acting their way toward adulthood: random but natural brutality, anti-sentimentality as strength, collective enterprises doomed to fall to the obsessive efforts of uncompromising lone wolves. Like comics in the 90s!
5) Maybe sell ads somehow?
I’m launching my portfolio site today at mbarthel.com. It features overviews of some of the major academic and journalistic projects I’ve done, complete with interactive visualizations (and even a video game). If you’ve ever wondered what the hell it is I do outside of this Tumblr, it may be of interest! Please pass it on to anyone you might know who’s hiring. I’m looking for a Data Scientist, Research Analyst, or related position in a marketing or consulting firm in Chicago or NYC.