Spreadable Media: Once upon a Time there was a piece of Fanart…

Over the past week, there’s been a lot of discussion in our Social Technologies lectures about ‘Spreadable Media’ – ideas, videos, images etc. which are passed around the internet. Generally, people think of top YouTube videos such as the (infamous?) ‘Charlie bit my Finger‘, or various memes, things that have spread around the globe and are instantly recognisable. Often these are referred to as ‘Viral’, which is something of a misleading term. A virus such as a cold spreads without human intervention, and this becomes a problem when companies etc. try to spread a piece of media. There is an assumption that you can make a ‘viral video’ – that the work you create will somehow spread of it’s own accord, via the mighty power of the internet. The thing is, the internet is not an entity in itself. The internet is people, and people control what is shared and said online.

Very few pieces of media will ever be universally accepted online. Therefore you have to find where the people are who will spread your particular object or message. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t manage it quite by accident, and have something become bigger than you ever expected with very little effort. It even happened to me, about a year ago, which brings me to an explanation for this blog title.

Online gaming culture has been my guilty pleasure for several years now, especially the various YouTube ‘gaming commentators’ who make various content based on video games. Last December, I was watching one of these videos, a Christmas-themed series of videos based on the Sandbox game Minecraft, by YouTuber InTheLittleWood. I was going through one of my frequent trying to learn to draw phrases, and decided to do a drawing based on a scene in the video. I’ll say this now, it’s not a very good drawing. It done for fun, but all the same, I decided to put it on Deviantart to show a few other fans of the same YouTube channel. After a few encouraging comments, I linked it to the InTheLittlewood Facebook page with a ‘Happy Christmas to everyone here’ type message. Now, we have an amateur piece of art, which only means something to a fairly niche subculture, posted on two social media platforms. Logic dictates that it shouldn’t go far. Except, three days later I was watching another video on the same channel, unaware that the creator had by chance spotted my picture and liked it enough to add it to his video. (Around the 3:50 mark.)

By the time I saw that video, it already had 40,000 views. I checked it again today.


So, with two posts and a bit of luck, I got one piece of media to a lot of people. I wonder how far I could spread a piece of work with serious effort?


One thought on “Spreadable Media: Once upon a Time there was a piece of Fanart…

  1. Pingback: YouTube Culture: A Group’s Summary « George Matoulas

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