Agenda 2-5 – Capstone Proposal

https://dcimcapstonespring2015.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/agenda-2-5/

(Part 3 has already been done in original blog post)

Research Question/Argument: What are the results of the decline of traditional blogging and the rise of micro-blogging? How has the increase in lower-quality but more frequent posting from online influencers affected this generation’s online demographic, specifically the demographic that follow Lifestyle and Fashion blogs?

I believe that this shift in blogging platforms has had a significant effect on the online users of today. Whereas before, traditional bloggers gained a following by putting out quality or visually appealing blog posts, nowadays the successful micro-bloggers focus solely on short, simple, and often shallow posts. Readers were less likely to enter the blogosphere themselves, because of the lack of time and ability they had to create high quality postings such as the ones that influential bloggers put out. But now, there are more users than ever that are engaging in micro-blogging platforms, because of the lower level of skill required to become a micro-blogger. Another effect that has been significant is the increase in the use of these micro-blogging platforms as an advertising platform, rather than a place to share creative or insightful content.
Through a thorough research on the change in content and their transition into micro-blogging of popular Lifestyle & Fashion bloggers such as Aimee Song from Song Of Style, Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad, Rumi Neely from Fashiontoast, and XiaXue from xiaxue.blogspot.com, along with bloggers who are solely influential on a micro-blogging platform such as Nina Nguyen also known as ninzeey on Instagram, I intend on proving my aforementioned points.  While I am tackling the issue of traditional blogging vs micro-blogging with a bias in traditional blogging, I will be sure to mention all of the positive results that I have observed in this shift. For one thing, micro-blogging is a platform that has a much greater reach than traditional blogging, and in this sense, it allows for great messages and ideas to be spread to a larger population. Micro-blogging is greatly responsible for the power of the media and the incredibly connectivity that we as a generation have with each other. In terms of the increased number of micro-bloggers, while the quality of the blogging can vary, one fact that can not be denied and has done a substantial amount of good for the younger generation is the fact that this generation is actively consuming media, rather than passively as they used to. We as consumers, are able to consume and respond to content faster and in a greater volume than any previous generation.

What kind of Data are you collecting and how are you collecting it?: Quantitatively, I intend on collecting the data on the number of views, subscribed followers, comments, and shares that a traditional blogger had before they moved to a micro-blogging platform such as Instagram and Twitter, and compare those numbers to their new statistics such as the amount of followers and comments/shares that their new platforms have given them. In terms of content, I will do a general comparison of the word count and the frequency of postings over the years as the bloggers transitioned in their new platforms. In order to better judge and assess the quality of the postings themselves, I will take several posts from the earlier years of their blogging careers, and compare them to the quality (in terms of content such as writing and visual media) of the posts that have been made after the shift to their newer platforms.

In order to study the effect, whether positive or negative, that this shift has had on the audience, I will also collect data on the increase of users on Instagram and Twitter through the years, as a demonstration on the increase in active content engagement.

Project Presentation Details: I will be incorporating my data through graphs and charts, and since there is a large focus on the visual aspect of these blogs and micro-blogs, I will also create visual comparisons that will be included in my final project. The project will be largely text-based, as I will need to be able to elaborate on my findings and the relevance of my results, but there will also be multimedia such as photos and data graphs to help further explain my research.

My target audience is any follower of Lifestyle & Fashion blogs, be it in the traditional form or the micro-blog form. I think it’s important that we sometimes take a step back to evaluate the media that we follow, and understand how it is reflective of ourselves in terms of our interests and values. This will help us see how our mindless scrolling through Twitter and Instagram affects us and how we have both adapted, and forced online influencers to adapt to suit our interests and needs.

Agenda 1-29 Post – Topic Idea

As an avid blog reader and social media engager, I have been a loyal follower to many lifestyle and fashion bloggers throughout the years. I have been following many since early 2007, and have witnessed the many changes that have occurred within the blogging industry, and have been extremely interested in trying to understand it. Most, if not all, of these bloggers, along with many other influential bloggers, have made the move of switching from their traditional blogging platform (such as Blogger, WordPress, etc.) to micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and nowadays even SnapChat. The amount of content that they put out can be both seen as being less than what they used to put out before, but they are now able to post with more frequency, which almost creates a balance. What I want to study with this research project is the positive and negative effects of this change in the blogosphere, in relation to both the reader and the blogger. I believe that the actions that these bloggers have taken to spread their influence and to maintain their relevance is highly reflective of our current generation’s values. A blogger writes for the people, and they will adjust the material and their posts so that they are able to reach out to their desired audience.

I have always been a big fan of traditional blogging, and so I am not necessarily a big fan of the switch to the micro-blogging platforms. Unfortunately, my tastes would now be considered old-fashioned, as even the popular RSS feed reader Google Reader was forced to close down when Google decided that it was no longer an important tool to invest their time in. My interests have always fallen into more feminine blogging categories such as Lifestyle and Fashion, but the Lifestyle and Fashion bloggers that have emerged on top in these newer platforms were able to achieve their success using different techniques than traditional bloggers. There are two things that I would like to break down in my research concerning these bloggers.

First, I would like to look into a select number of bloggers, and outline and interpret their transition into micro-blogging platforms. What I find fascinating is the fact that these bloggers tend to make a change to the type of content they post as well, all while trying to maintain their original image to stay true to themselves. Second, I would like to draw a comparison between the successful bloggers on the traditional blogging platform, with the successful micro-bloggers in their respective platforms. Unfortunately, not all successful traditional bloggers were able to mirror their success in their transition, and I would like to be able to better understand why this was so.

In this study, I will also pull in outside factors that I believe are responsible for some of these results. For one thing, our society’s increased reliance on our smartphones as a form of quick entertainment has taken away quite a bit of our ability to focus on longer blog posts in comparison to micro-blog posts. The elimination of the most popular RSS feed reader, which is a tool used by blog-followers to stay up-to-date with their favorite blogs, has also created an obstacle that many chose to completely avoid rather than overcome. While I believe that the switch has ultimately resulted in the readers receiving lower-quality content from the bloggers, the frequency and increased interactivity with online-influencers has many positive results. Our interests and the material we choose to expose ourselves to is highly reflective of our values, and I intend on coming to a better understand of these values through my research.

 

In terms of research material, I have come upon these pieces of writing that I believe will help to further my research and understanding.

 

  1. Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities

http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1348556

Keywords: Microblogging, social media, social network analysis, user intent

Research Question: This paper looks into the microblogging phenomena and studies the topological and geographical properties of Twitter’s social network. It also analyzes the user intentions in terms of both community and with how the users connect with other users with similar intentions.

Method and Findings: They were able to perform this research by going directly onto Twitter and following users and their actions in terms of their topological and geographical properties. Studies on the kinds of postings that were made by a large pool of users were also used. They were able to conclude that people on Twitter are constantly using it in order to seek or share information.

Topic Relevancy: In order for me to understand why the move to microblogging was necessary, I have to understand how microblogging became so big and was able to overtake traditional platforms. We are able to see our society’s transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, where interactivity and user-generated content begin to emerge. As technology begins to take over more parts of our lives, we have to find a way to fit ourselves into this wave so that we don’t get overwhelmed.

  1. To be seen or not to be: Narcissistic tendencies among bloggers

https://www.inter-disciplinary.net/critical-issues/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/novakovacelpaper.pdf

Keywords: Narcissism, bloggers, social media, Instagram, blogging routines, self-construction, visual culture

Research Question This paper explores the narcissism among bloggers, and how this reflects on their self-constructed online images.

Method and Findings: They study the most popular bloggers on microblogging platforms such as Instagram, and look in how they present themselves to the public. They were able to find that the growing trend of visualized style of communication seems to be vital in the blogger being able to play the role that they want to play.

Topic Relevancy: There is no denying that narcissism plays a big role in a blogger’s life and their success, and in the microblogging platform, this narcissism comes out much stronger than on traditional platforms. Whereas traditional platforms had bloggers posting a few times a week/month, microblogging platforms almost require them to present themselves online as often as they can in as many interesting ways as they can. They have to believe that they are putting out content that their audience wants to see, and often this content is simply just of them going about their normal lives.

  1. Blogging: An Introductory Look at an Old Pastime in a New Medium

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/07419050610713691

Keywords: Networking, Electronic Publishing

Research Question: What are blogs, and how/why are they used?

Method and Findings: This article covers all of the basics needed to understand the history behind the blog, and gives a look on why its a popular platform to share both professional and personal material.

Topic Relevancy: While the shift has changed from traditional blogging to micro-blogging, the concepts and findings from this paper are still relevant to understanding why blogging is revolutionizing the way this generation interacts and shares ideas.

Website: http://claudianguyen93.wix.com/adstagram

Elevator Pitch

Introduction:

Hi my name is Nikki Piazza and I am a senior graduating this spring at Rutgers University. I am a Journalism and Media major with a Digital Communication, Information and Media minor. On top of the informative classes I have been able take here at Rutgers, I have also been granted great opportunities with different types of internships as well. Most of these internships consisted of maintaining and providing updates for social media accounts, researching and organizing information to keep a positive brand image and editing of visual and sound clips. I have used my experience with social media in both the classroom and real world to research how the Internet and social media affect the body image, beauty and health ideals women have today. Specifically researching the connection between fit vs. thin and the blurred knowledge of knowing how to achieve the perfect body imaging you’re retweeting on social media.

Research Question: In my final project I will be researching how real of an affect social media has on women’s body images. I will be defining what is the real meaning of “fitspiration” and “thinspiration” and how women are blinded to the truth of most importantly their own bodies. I will be seeing how these online affects can create real life problems and what can be done to prevent that.

Application: Creating an application to promote personal and healthy body images. Similar to the way Timehop works, it will be a collaboration of multiple social media sites Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, ect.)

Outline:

  • Researchers say… connection between the two why?
  • Fitspiration vs. Thinspiration
  • Answers vs. Image : Health Bloggers vs. Beauty “image” bloggers (Tone It Up Girls vs. Diet pills/teas/supplements), include personal findings
  • Companies Internet images (ex: Dove campaign vs Victoria Secret backlash on “perfect body”)
  • Conclusion and outcome of this portrayal online and the real life consequences

Literature Review:

I will include different forms of research and comments from scholarly articles, media articles and the social media sites themselves which I will collect comments and examples from. I will use research, commenters and what my interviewers say to analyze the question I am trying to answer, while comparing the two sides of this topic.

Research Question:

I hope to find why there is such a split between positive and negative associations with body image and “real” beauty for women. What can bridge the gap between pictures and actual results, but in a healthy way. Getting real answers to the body images you are seeing through social and mass media sites. Focusing more on informing then looking at end results (application).

Data Collection:

The data I will be collecting for this project will include observations and research from the Internet between the content and comments, surveys given anonymously and interviews from different aged woman. I feel comparing the differences between anonymous and not anonymous interviewers will discover a whole other issue and maybe answer that lies in this category.I will also research a lot of social media sites that not only give the results people like and want but an explanation to go along with it.

Findings:

  • Age so far is a large part in this positive and negative gap in body image
  • Even negative association is still widely excepted and popular
  • People know being fit is healthy but they want to look thin. Informing more to fill in the in-between of that situation

Data Presentation:

My data will be presented in a blog and application

Annotated Bibliography:

1. This article talks about a surveys done specifically about purchasing cosmetic and health related products and how the key finding was the impact of social media and blogs in purchasing. It explained that, “42 percent of heavy buyers say that social media is very important in making their purchasing decisions. Cosmetic blogs (29%) and YouTube (23%) were the most popular resources among these involved buyers”. This was a number that years ago would not have existed and now has evolved the marketing some of these companies are making explained in the article. They also talk about wholesale retailers and not only being influenced by people online to purchase something but then actually purchasing it online just goes hand and hand now which I never thought to think about.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tabs-group-explores-the-relationships-between-millennial-shoppers-social-media-and-cosmetics-in-its-2014-cosmetics-consumer-study-300012196.html

2. This paper is really what got my attention when starting to research and find a different angle to go. This paper is goes into research on the part social media and the Internet play with creating these images and thoughts women now have today. It is about the constant pushing and theme most people can see in any ad or health/beauty image the Internet promotes. It is altering the way people think is normal and turning into something it should not. I like how this paper compares the marketing strategies and views from old to new, which was different from the other articles. Its nice to see comparing to something old because the new marketing ways and images are becoming the norm.

http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1749&context=cmc_theses

3. This paper focuses on the direct affect the “thin body” image mass media pushes on women can become a direct result of eating disorders and other harmful physical damage to oneself. While this article does not specifically focus on digital media, it was a study done on 77 women directly thinking their own definition of body image to mass media and culture. They talk a lot of how this starts at a very young age and in this case dealing with social media even younger. Children are exposed at extremely earlier ages, whether it is seeing an image on TV or on a website. This article specifically links the blur between media and reality. They provide explanation of how as a society we have gotten to this point and how these images are having real life affects on body image.

http://people.ucsc.edu/~sgrabe/Shellys_Home_page/Publications_files/Grabe%20%26%20Ward,%20Hyde,%20Media%20Meta%20(PB,%202008).pdf

  1. http://www.westminstercollege.edu/myriad/index.cfm?parent=…&detail=4475&content=4795

This scholarly article really went into the idea of the beauty standard and how mass media affects that idea today. This article gave me a lot of theories that I was not aware of before and helped me answer some of the questions I was looking for

  1. http://www.american.edu/soc/communication/upload/Mascelli2010.pdf

This study reflected on specifically Doves Campaign for Real Beauty and the affect it had when woman were submitted to both their campaign and others. I found this article interesting because this is one of the main examples I wanted to use in my project and gave me further insight on some women’s thoughts.

  1. http://www.today.com/health/perfect-body-petition-twitter-users-slam-victorias-secret-campaign-1D80253890

This article had to do with Victoria Secrets “Perfect Body” campaign in the opposite sense of Doves Campaign. While this was not a study, it was an informative article that explained peoples reactions on social media and the not so great image the company was creating.

Project Proposal

Research Question/ Argument:

I want my capstone project to focus on the effects social media and the Internet have on women concerning health, beauty and specifically body image. I want to research and compare the new and old views of these areas and what specifically affected those image (ex: billboards, celebrities, the Internet ect.). Lastly I want to see the real effects it is causing on women, specifically the younger generations and what can be done to educate people about it.

I think this topic is relevant to everyone in this digital world today and I think figuring out what triggers and develops these images is what is really going to get my answer. I love the health and beauty world online but I have noticed a trend in the people who are popular and the reasons for that. I also continually see the push for weight loss, makeup and exercise on articles online targeted at women. It is of course not a bad thing to worry about any of those things but the constant push is starting to create a dimorphic body image that people now consider to be the norm.

Data & Collection: I think by continuing to find scholarly articles and personal statements from women online I can create a more focused thesis. However I will also conduct other information to analyze my argument which will include interviews and anonymous survey’s. I specify it being anonymous because I feel especially dealing personal issues such as body image and beauty people would be more open to share knowing their name was not attached to their answers. Therefore I would be able to get an authentic view in different spectrums.

Project Presentation Details: After collecting all my information and data I think I want to write a paper. I think the information and hopefully from interviews of people of different ages I will have a lot of good quotes to help support my thesis. I do not know how important visuals may be when trying to add to my argument but I will see as I collect more data.

2 Questions:

  • Do you feel there is another element I can explore in my argument, specifically with conducting data that will bring my information to the next level?
  • Which social media site do you feel affects this area of body image the most? (Ex: Instagram being able to edit photos = fake body images)