#reddit

/r/Japan

Throughout my journey on this particular sub-reddit, I found an abundance of ‘I’m coming to Japan – What should I see?!’ type posts. Upon seeing and reading the same questions and answers I was beginning to question my study. That was until I stumbled upon three eye opening posts

Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.31.47Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.32.39Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.32.16

My reasoning for choosing these posts as a focal point is because they seem to be a rarity. I mean who thinks about Weed in Japan? Or who isn’t too sidetracked by their excitement for visiting Japan to stop and think about “Hang on, what SHOULDN’T I be doing/seeing/visiting?” And likewise, What was disappointing about Japan? These types of posts were exactly what I was searching for, to uncover the less known facts about Japan and find out what people really think, besides the popular opinions. This is what I really believe is the true use for the representation of Japan on Reddit – To give information for those interested and not just interested in hearing the stock standard opinions.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.27.03From reading through ‘what NOT to do in Japan? where NOT to go in Japan?’ I was able to find some things that most would not know. The not talking on trains point really struck me as weird, especially from being on Sydney trains where even the ‘quiet carriage’ still has that guy talking on his phone or that baby who just.Won’t.Stop.Crying.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.28.25In addition I have found what seems to be a typical Westernised tradition “The Tokyo Yamanote Halloween Train” Where a bunch of tourists dress up in halloween costumes and get drunk and cause a ruckus on two Japanese Peak Hour Trains. The views on this seem to be incredibly negative and from viewing a few of these videos it’s obvious that the people participating in these train rides are showing no respect for the ‘Quiet Train’ rules or the Japanese people in general.

Something that has never occurred to me is to question the laws regarding Marijuana in foreign countries, besides the obvious – Bali. Well ‘Weed in Japan’ definitely answered that for me. I had always thought that the general consensus was the same as that of Australia, that it’s illegal, but more frowned upon rather than a serious crime. As the picture above shows, that is NOT the case in Japan, the entire post contains people warning against it – although is seems harder drugs are more common with less penalties.Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.52.40

The final post I found to be incredibly interesting was the ‘What has disappointed you? (regarding Japan)’. Which contained useful information about aspects of Japan which weren’t what the author thought they would be.Screenshot 2014-10-07 12.59.59

Things like the medical system being terrible or that toilets are apparently the most technologically Screenshot 2014-10-07 13.05.42advanced part of Japan?

So my transition from the beginning of this sub-reddit to finally finding relevant and unique information was tough at first but in the end I managed to get on a pretty good role and spent about 5 hours on just this sub-reddit (I was in deep guys), but this is exactly what I wanted to get out of it. To see the lesser known side of Japan and how it’s represented in an online community.

It’s all starting to come together!

As defined by Ellis et al “Auto-Enthography is is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience’ (2011). I will be applying this to the representation of Japanese culture as a whole on reddit (mentioned in previous blogs).

As I haven’t been to Japan (yet) to experience this, I will be attempting to submerge myself in the online communities of reddit to enable me to gain a full understanding of why these sub-reddits exisit, who is using them and what I can learn. The personal experiences I will be drawing on will be my perusing of these Sub-reddits which will help me to “study a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders (cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better understand the culture (Maso, 2001).  I believe that as reddit is a forum with a HUGE traffic flow (Average of 16 Million per month) it will be the perfect place to complete my auto-ethnographic study. I will be focusing on 3 main subreddits /r/japan, /r/japanlife and /r/japansports. In the following weeks I will be analysing each of these sub-reddits in more detail in order to better utilise some of the “showing” and “telling” techniques in which Ellis et all mentions (2011).

I feel like the main barrier for the study will be where exactly to start and what information will be relevant. Though this should be overcome by simply spending time on these particular subreddits, making use of screenshots and putting together a Prezi with my findings in a mind map sort of layout.

References

Maso, Ilja (2001). Phenomenology and ethnography. In Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, John Lofland & Lyn Lofland (Eds.), Handbook of ethnography (pp.136-144). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ellis, C; Adams T E; Bochner A P 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1 art. 10http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

r/NorthKorea: Telling A Story Through A Story

For many, the Internet is linked with their expression of self (Poole 2012). Facebook feeds document feelings while Twitter records opinions. The online world offers an opportunity of expression and storytelling that has never been offered before (Pareles 2006). 

Pool, C cited in TechWebTV 2012 ‘Web 2.0 Summit: Self Expression Through Social Media – Chris Poole’

Reddit offers this opportunity more than most sites. As a site that thrives on user generated content, it welcomes personal experience albeit usually for the purposes of comedy. Boards such as r/AskReddit, r/iAMA and r/TIFU are all based on users recounting personal experiences. But it is not only the places that specifically ask for users to recount their personal experience that tell an important story.

r/NorthKorea provides an insight into the shielded Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but unlike most digital storytelling, it provides a voice for North Koreans through the documentation of the experiences of visitors and defectors, and the aggregation and discussion of everything ‘North Korea’ (Reddit 2014). While it is impossible to say whether this story truly reflects the average experience of a North Korean citizen, it provides somewhat of a voice and story to a nation that is confined from the rest of the globe.

Browsing the content of the board paints a picture of a nation that is built for show. Images show empty streets but extravagant statues. Scrolling through, I get a feeling of isolation and pride. The citizens isolated from others but prideful in their country. One user posted a poignant photo of a female traffic director smiling, which they say is a rare occurrence, amongst a reel of tourist snaps littered with propaganda (fatherdougal 2013). A sense of human delight nestled in a story of propaganda and poverty.

Through website of the nation’s main broadcasting service, presents an aggressive, proud and stiff voice (The Voice of Korea 2014). Same, same but different. The ‘Voice of Korea’ is littered with combatant rhetoric which is weakened by the outdated and disjointed layout of the site. As I listen to the snippets of news audio linked on the site, I can’t help feeling that the electronic voice of the news reader aptly matches the image the North Korean government pushes. Stiff, robotic and void of genuine emotion. Built for show, but showing nothing. 

r/NorthKorea, although not voiced strictly by those whom it is about, provides a story that has genuine human sentiment. Through the aggregation of content, the Reddit community provides insight into a group that is forgotten under the weight of their governments actions. Reddit, as a community, has expressed the identity of a group that is unable to do so itself. A story within a story. 

Reference List:

 Fatherdougal 2012, ‘Just got back from a week in North Korea (Pyongyang, Kaesong, and the DMZ) – Here are some of my favourite snaps from the trip’, thread, 10 May, Reddit, viewed 28/8/14, < http://www.reddit.com/r/northkorea/comments/1e2bw8/just_got_back_from_a_week_in_north_korea/&gt;

Pareles, J 2006, ‘2006, Brought to You by You’, The New York Times, 10 December, viewed 28/8/14, <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/arts/music/10pare.html?ref=music&_r=0>

Poole, C cited in TechWebTV 2012, ‘Web 2.0 Summit: Self Expression through Social Media – Chris Pool’, web video, 3 April, Youtube, viewed 28/8/14, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYIingBky5A&gt;

Reddit 2014, North Korea, viewed 28/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/northkorea&gt;

The Voice of Korea 2014, Voice of Korea, viewed 28/8/14, <http://www.vok.rep.kp/CBC/english.php?sYear1=2014&sMonth1=8&sDate1=27&gt;

 

Reddit – A Bucking Bull Subdued by PSY’s Dance Moves

Reddit is the anti-thesis to social media. The site is not about developing a public profile, at least one not linked to the offline world (Couts 2012). It is this commitment to anonymity that allows the site to foster discussions and content that are uninhibited by social norms. Remember, this is the site that hosts boards such as r/picsofdeadkids and the community that asked rapists to tell their side of the story (Reddit 2014a; UnholyDemigod 2014; The Cajun Boy 2012). In short, it is not exactly the place for celebrity PR.

The self-indulgent and self-promoting celebrity feeds of Facebook and Twitter are a far cry from Reddit’s own celebrity PR outlet. r/IAmA is used, although  it must be stressed not strictly, for celebrities to conduct a kind of open-forum with the Reddit community and their favourite celebs (Reddit 2014b).

The 25th highest ranked (as of 20/8/2014) AMA was conducted by South Korean musician PSY (Reddit 2012). PSY is one of the few Asian celebrities to conduct an AMA, and the only one to be aggregated as within the top 100 of all time (Reddit 2014c). He answered questions ranging from how he keeps a straight face dancing (because he’s serious about it) to what his favourite breakfast food is (korean food). Overall, the AMA presents PSY as fairly laid back, especially as his AMA was not tied to the promotion of any particular project. Although his responses seem short, perhaps as English is his second language, he allowed users to ask anything and he answered most of their inquiries.

AMAs are the only outlet that celebrities are allowed to (somewhat) control their image on Reddit. The rest of the content is user-generated and aggregated. For example, PSY’s song Gangnam Style has its own subreddit (r/GangnamStyle) and a search of the keyword ‘PSY’ on the site locates fan drawn images, jokes, and other varying content (Reddit 2014d). This content is not controlled by PSY or his PR reps but rather his fans and/or cynics.

If we are to learn anything from Reddit, it is that when they commit, they fully commit. We must look only to their Boston Bombing witch-hunt to see how passionate they can be (ABC News 2013). Reddit, with its values strongly planted in being the opposite of social media, provides an uncontrollable landscape for celebrity public image. PSY has bravely traversed the landscape, emerging relatively unscathed and perhaps with an expanded fan-base, due to a catchy song and a well-received forum with his fans.

Reference List:

ABC News 2013, ‘Reddit says sorry for Boston bombing ‘witch hunt’’, 23 April, viewed 20/8/14, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-23/reddit-apolgises-for-boston-witch-hunt/4645386&gt;

Couts, A 2012, ‘State of the Web: Reddit, The World’s Best Anonymous Social Network’, Digital Trends, 11 September, viewed 20/8/14, <http://www.digitaltrends.com/opinion/reddit-worlds-best-anonymous-social-network/&gt;

PSY (PSY_Oppa) 2012, ‘I am South Korean Singer, Rapper, Composer, Dancer and Creator of Gangnam Style PSY. AMA’, Reddit, thread, 24 October, viewed 20/8/14, < http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/120oqd/i_am_south_korean_singer_rapper_composer_dancer/&gt;

Reddit 2014a, ‘Pics of Dead Kids’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/PicsOfDeadKids/&gt;

Reddit 2014b, ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/wiki/index&gt;

Reddit 2014c, ‘Top scoring links : IAmA’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, < http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/top/?sort=top&t=all&gt;

Reddit 2014d, ‘GangnamStyle’, Reddit, viewed 20/8/14, < http://www.reddit.com/r/gangnamstyle&gt;

The Cajun Boy 2012, ‘If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Thread For You!’, Uproxx, weblog post, 27 December, viewed 20/8/14, <http://uproxx.com/webculture/2012/07/rapists-explain-why-they-rape-on-reddit/&gt;

UnholyDemigod 2014, ‘The ‘ask a rapist’ thread’, Reddit, thread, 16 December, viewed 20/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/MuseumOfReddit/comments/1t1r2z/the_ask_a_rapist_thread/&gt;

How do you J-pop?

This week I decided to throw myself into the weird and wonderful world of J-POP, having no experience to draw on other than having two K-pop bands on my iPod about 5 years ago. Obviously the two aren’t even from the same country of origin so I clearly had a lot of learning to do. I decided to start by doing some simple googling on popular bands and the kind of music they created. I then decided I would need to take it further to really understand the culture. This is when I stumble across the subreddit, boy oh boy. There was some hard out fan-girling going on there. These people were passionate about the music, the culture and the people that made up their favourite J-Pop groups. I could only relate through my understanding of the Justin Bieber “belibers” and one Directions “directioners”

I stumbled across a website that reported news mostly on J-pop groups, there were dozens are articles that had only been released in the past 2 days about numerous groups. This alone shows that there is a celebrity culture and a following for the musica and the groups.The music could be considered to be your ‘typical’ pop music style, up beat with a hook in the chorus to make sure it sticks in your mind (yes, even if you you don’t understand the language). I found a playlist someone had created on YouTube and found myself browsing the internet all while listing to the songs, I was actually starting to enjoy them. Most were light hearted and fun. The j-pop groups go beyond just the music. It’s more about the culture and the belonging to the fan base. This was clearly seen in he case of the many subreddits I viewed on the topic.

I personally have never experienced that kind of passion and obsession for a music group, so it was such an interesting look into the lives of the audiences and the constant thirst for knowledge of these groups and their members. The more you know, the more loyal a fan you seem to be. It is interesting to note the rise of groups such as this in many parts of Asia and around the world. It is easy to follow their journey through social media and feel as though you are experiencing their lives with them. The fan base for groups such as these isn’t a new phenomenon, yet still seems to resonate with young consumers today

I’m Lost in a Sea of Strangers, and Someone Told Me They Were Sexist

Updated: to format references correctly.

Over the past week I have been lurking on the Reddit board r/anime (Reddit 2014). Every day, I have been perusing the top 100 posts in an attempt to familiarise myself with anime beyond what is shown on Australian screens. In short, the experience was isolating.

Scrolling through the posts felt like walking past strangers. The content I viewed was varied but seemed to be primarily focused on image. Characters were presented either in stills or as fan drawings, with little explanation to where they are from. Reddit, as a platform, is well-suited to this sort of image heavy board (Fenn 2013). But this format made it harder for me to engage with the content and the community. It is easy to scroll past strangers, just as it is easy to dismiss dialogue you don’t understand and jokes you are not apart of. As it is rightfully allowed to be, the board and community within is clearly geared at an experienced viewing audience, rather than hooking in new viewers. Perhaps, for this reason alone, it is not the best place to start my viewing experience.

Aside from the board layout, I also suffered from my own bias. Last semester, I conducted a small-scale research project with another UOW student into Reddit’s AdviceAnimal memes (Bauer & Shalavin 2014). The results showed that some of the memes did show women in a negative light but were deemed not offensive as they were of a joking nature. As such, I began viewing the board with the assumption that some content would in fact be misogynistic. This accusation has been thrown around the anime community before with fans pointing out the hyper-sexualised construction of female characters (Cross 2014). However, while I believe I was searching for this over the past week, I do not believe I found it. While most image-based content featured female characters, they were hardly ever represented as overly-sexualised. Instead, they were largely drawn in empowered stances or situations and praised in the comment sections

My experience was hindered by both myself and the site I attempted to engage in. It is, of course, not the community’s fault that I felt isolated as I was a novice nor that I walked into experience with a poorly informed view of female representation in anime. Perhaps this is a site to return to after I have begun my viewing experience. 

Reference List:

Bauer, E & Shalavin, C 2014, ‘Gender and Digital Dissent Followup’, presentation, 14 May, Prezi, viewed on 12/8/14, <http://prezi.com/slmouolsnvmf/gender-and-digital-dissent-follow-up/&gt;

Cross, K 2014, ‘Sexist Static: How a lust for misogyny is hobbling an important artform’, weblog post, 24 April, Feministing, viewed 12/8/14, <http://feministing.com/2014/04/24/sexist-static-how-a-lust-for-crude-misogyny-is-hobbling-an-important-artform/&gt;

Fenn, M 2013, ‘Reddit is becoming an image board – Here’s why’, 20 March, The Daily Dot, viewed 12/8/14, <http://www.dailydot.com/news/reddit-imageboard-pics-study/&gt;

Reddit 2014, ‘Anime’, Reddit, viewed 12/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/anime&gt;