New Media, Audiences and Emerging Markets

Course description

An Indian vegatable seller arranges vegaTagging of newlyweds, downloading the latest movies, teens flirting on social network sites and virtual gaming may seem like typical behavior in the West; yet in the context of a town in Mali or a slum in Mumbai, it is seen as unusual and perhaps an anomaly in their new media practice. The fact is, as emerging economies globalize and urbanize exponentially, their users are becoming more critical consumers and creative contributors of digital content or ‘prosumers’ and arguably free laborers instead of classic development beneficiaries. We no longer can talk about internet practices in the West as normative given that emerging markets have surpassed the wealthier nations in terms of internet users. Hence, to talk of global and representative practice, we need to expand our frames of reference, revisit sacred discourses and Western-biased rubrics of digital design and practice. A paradigm shift is needed in approaching new media audiences with a more global-oriented, open-ended and pluralistic perspective. This seminar takes as a starting point popular discourses in new media studies, primarily shaped by Western concerns, contexts and concepts, and juxtaposes them against web 2.0 users in emerging markets. This opens up critical discussions on key topics such as prosumption, online privacy/surveillance, digital labor/leisure, social media activism, and search engine research. This is essential for students to be able to position their research and target audience on a more globally-architected digital and cultural landscape.