Appropriation, Participation and the Creation of Celebrity: Introducing Internet-Mediated Urban Eccentrics

Abstract for AoIR11 (Ben Light and Helen Keegan)

Our paper concerns the potential, and processes of, the internet-mediated construction and communication of urban eccentrics; ‘local characters’ who have traditionally been known to unconnected groups within a geographic locale. Our work suggests that the internet has the potential to connect these groups and generate notoriety for urban eccentrics, transcending time and space. This is not a new phenomenon; the Nowhere Guide, launched in the 1990s, allows contributors to share memories of ‘local heroes’ and Gawker has spawned similar sites (Wired 2008). However, despite literatures around online fandom (Baym 2002) and micro-celebrity (Senft, 2008) it appears that the relationships between digital media and urban eccentrics have received very little academic attention. Our research is based on a discourse analysis of the Facebook fan page associated with a particular urban eccentric and other artifacts connected with them and shared throughout the Internet. Continue reading