Whose capital is it any way? Influencers in cross-media webs

Influencers are impacting traditional media industries, including television (Hamedy, 2016), cinema (Hamedy, 2015), and publishing (Naughton, 2016). They are among the world’s most influential teenagers (Kembrey, 2014), being fastest-selling debut novelists (Collison, 2014), and recognized by traditional awards (Collins, 2016) and internet-native ones (Influence Asia, 2017). They have even stimulated updates in tax laws (The Nordic Page, 2011) and advertising guidelines (Drake, 2016). Yet, most of these recent developments have been limited to popular press coverage rather than scholarly inquiry. As the Influencer phenomenon is evolving quicker than scholarship can keep up, a major gap in the field of internet celebrity studies is the connection between such actors and legacy media. More specifically, what begs theorizing are the networked relationships between the three ecologies of internet personalities (i.e. transient virality, people who become memes, microcelebrities, and Influencers), digital estates of the media (i.e. internet-native publishing outlets and the internet presence of legacy media), and traditional old media (i.e. television, cinema, and radio). While some scholars are beginning to investigate the dispersal of celebrity value across platforms and populations (Hearn & Schoenhoff, 2015), this paper explicitly maps out the structural, cultural, and social institutions that connect these three ecologies, focusing on Singapore as an exemplar in East Asia, through a theory of cross-media networked microcelebrity.

*

For conference paper: Abidin, Crystal. 2018. “Whose capital is it any way? Influencers in cross-media webs.” Media Industries: Current Debates and Future Directions, London. April 18-20, 2018.