Chronicling the vernacular and the middlebrow in post-digital culture.

Software Skills in the Media Manifold

We currently live in a ‘software culture’ (Manovich 2013) where application software makes up the connective tissue for much of contemporary cultural and media work. Learning to design and use application software is key to the brave new world of digital media work. While traditional institutions like Universities continue to offer training for these applications, there is also a growing, increasingly diverse and sophisticated range of online resources for learning software skills: from Lynda.com to YouTube to more obscure corners of the Web. It is understood that there are abundant options for anyone interested in developing software skills yet what remains misunderstood is how people navigate between these offline and online resources.

Through this research project, we set to develop new insights on software skills for digital media by taking a new approach to this problem: investigating the everyday experiences of people learning to become professional digital media creators as they navigate through the media manifold (Couldry & Hepp 2016)—the complex entanglements of online and offline institutions that define software skills. This approach challenges the view that only offline or online approaches can adequately provide such training and instead examines the hybrid approaches that are currently enacted. The purpose of this project is to learn how people individually and/or collectively cobble together software skills through the training afforded by various platforms and institutions.

Searching for Tasks: A Study on Online Searchability for Situated Action

This Mitacs-funded research project was developed in response to questions pertaining to the future of digital skills in an ever-changing, global and digital economy. Working with our partner organization, we set out to better understand how people practice online search to accomplish tasks that involve digital skills.

Photoshop Inscriptions

Video streaming platforms like YouTube are increasingly being used as a means of finding and disseminating digital skills. Rather than simply treat these platforms as repositories of static information, we believe they represent spaces in which vernacular genres of communicative practice for digital skills develop.

With the help of SFU's Digital Humanities Innovation Lab, we have created a research tool to help us trace the videos people share on YouTube related to Photoshop.

Click here to access the research website: https://dhil.lib.sfu.ca/pi/

Defining middlebrow and the vernacular in contemporary cultural studies

Here are some useful sources where people attempt to define what it means to study middlebrow and vernacular culture today.

CMF Trends:

The CMF Trends Blog has been posting some great research and think pieces on the Canadian cultural industries including some great case studies of Canadian productions. Frederik Lesage has also contributed a few think pieces dealing with the intersection between digital development, digital literacy, and the cultural industries: Digital Literacy – Do Media Workers Need to Learn Code? Amateurs Vs. Professionals – Does the distinction matter anymore? Data-driven development: Should creators drink the data Kool-Aid Blinded by passion? The relevance of coding bootcamps for creative industries Open data in public broadcasting.