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Muddled Boundaries of Digital Shrines

Abstract : Based on an online ethnography study of 274 YouTube videos posted during the Virginia Tech or the Newtown massacres, this article discusses how users resort to participatory media during such mediatized events to create a digital spontaneous shrine. The assemblage of this sanctuary on a website hosting billions of user-generated contents is made possible by means of folksonomy and website architecture, and a two-fold social dynamic based on participatory commitment and the institutionalization of a collective entity. Unlike “physical” spontaneous shrines erected in public spaces, these digital shrines connect the bereaved with provocative or outrageous contributions, notably tributes from school shooting fans using participatory media to commemorate the killer’s memory. This side effect, generated by the technical properties of the platform, compromises the tranquility of the memorial and muddles the boundaries and the contents of such sanctuaries.
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Contributor : Julien Figeac <>
Submitted on : Friday, November 13, 2015 - 11:50:09 AM
Last modification on : Monday, November 30, 2020 - 9:52:14 AM
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Nathalie Paton, Julien Figeac. Muddled Boundaries of Digital Shrines. Popular Communication, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2015, 13 (4), pp.251-271. ⟨10.1080/15405702.2015.1019072⟩. ⟨halshs-01228530⟩



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