PARGC Student Panel - Creative Digital Practices: Exploring User Generated Content

11 Dec 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Annenberg School for Communication, Room 109
Open to the Public


A new production force housed under the name of the user, fan, freelancer or civil society has now established itself in the fabric of digital content creation. Through an array of bite-sized presentations this panel introduces a diverse set of contexts then explores and theorizes their user generated content (UGC) as a generative, complex and contentious creative practice. 

Panel Moderator: Joseph Turow, Ph.D. 

Speakers & Abstracts:

Elisabetta Ferrari: Critical Analyses of User Generated Content

This talk will focus on social networking sites to highlight two critical aspects of user-generated content. First drawing upon theories of immaterial labor to emphasize how user-generated content has been a dramatic innovation that allowed market actors to profit from users' creativity. Second, the speaker will suggest that the idea of user-generated content underlies a vision of participation centered on the individual, and not on the collective; the speaker's research on the Occupy movement will show how that might be problematic.

Kevin Gotkin: “Better Brains”: Cosmetic Neurology on YouTube

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) - originally developed alongside other neurostimulation techniques to treat psychosocial disorders and stroke-related motor defects - is gaining particular purchase among clinicians and amateur medical tinkerers alike as the technique has been shown to increase a wide set of mental abilities. In this preliminary survey of the phenomenon as it’s unfolding through YouTube videos, I look at how tDCS tinkerers imagine alternative medical knowledges by using their own minds as test sites for “better brains”.

Katerina Girginova: #savethesurprise: The Making of a Mass Secret

How does an organization retain its social media friendly image while getting a live audience of over 100,000 spectators to keep the details of an event a secret? Through the case study of #savethesurprise this presentation charts the successful architecture of a social media ‘mass secret’, which emerges as being built on a technical, legal and participant layer of practice. In turn, this helps us draw some broader implications about the state of UGC in our media environment.

Yoel Roth: The Selfie Police: Content Management and its discontents? 

If the internet was supposed to herald a new age of networked free speech and individual autonomy, how did we instead end up with a regime of prudish and draconian content management policies? This project traces the different explanations that software developers and designers offer for the content policies they implement, arguing that both technical rules and normative judgments play a role in structuring individual self-expression online.

Deborah Lui: Exploring the (counter)narratives of innovation within the Maker Movement 

Educators have recently heralded the “Maker Movement” as the best new way to revitalize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in the United States. In this talk, I highlight how the making as a concept is leveraged to promote particular narratives of innovation and creativity. While these narratives are often utilized to define success and failure, I identify how alternate accounts of making are required to explain the actual on-the-ground practices seen within informal educational sites.​

Lunch and colloquium begin at noon. Space is limited, please RSVP to

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