Permeable performances: Negotiating the ‘online’ and the ‘offline’ in Singaporean blog entrepreneurship

Independent blog entrepreneurs form one sector of commercial bloggers in Singapore, where blogs have been appropriated as a social space and ‘physical’ place for non-commercial interactions and commercial transactions. These independent blog entrepreneurs are dominantly young women between the ages of 18 and 35, who are educated, and who intentionally seek self-employment through their online entrepreneurship. Little attention has been paid to this budding phenomenon thus this empirical ethnographic work is relatively new. A feature of such commercial blogs is the way in which young women feature their lives as a tool for selling products. The importance of this is the extent to which their desire to use their personal lives to sell products generates discussion about how new media merges public and private lives, and how this connects to issues around celebrity. Owners and models of blogshops, appear to have a keen sense of self-awareness in the crafting of their personas and lifestyles published online. This is a frontline youth movement that little is known about, but which shows us how young people are using the Internet in innovative and entrepreneurial ways. This presentation will touch on three points: Firstly, I will discuss the ways in which these blog entrepreneurs construct and produce their online (and intentionally public) personas, and how they appropriate these online personas to market and sell products. Secondly, I will discuss the ways in which these blog entrepreneurs define their ‘offline’ (and presumably private) selves, as strategies to preserve a degree of their privacy. These actions are often reactive, responding to backlash received in the infancy of their online careers. Thirdly, I will discuss the ways in which these blog entrepreneurs conscientiously alternate between their online personals and offline selves, and how they occasionally perform their ‘online personas’ when interacting with readers in real life, as a business strategy.

Abidin, C. (2012) “Permeable performances: Negotiating the ‘online’ and the ‘offline’ in Singaporean blog entrepreneurship” Australian Anthropological Society Conference 2012 – Social lives of and on computers, technology and the Internet, University of Queensland, Brisbane. Sep 26 – 28, 2012.

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