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Tuesday, July 28 • 10:31 - 12:00
"Selfie sticks – an online/offline entanglement of the networked image"

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Author: Jessamy Perriam


The increase of selfie stick use in public places since mid 2014, has sparked media commentary along with bans in museums, galleries and stadia. But outside of the media attention and bans, what does the selfie stick mean for the everyday networked photographer (someone who creates images primarily to share online)? An empirical offline and online study of selfie sticks tells a different story to one the media portrays. In winter 2014/5, a multi-modal experiment was conducted to see whether and how the selfie stick constituted an issue in both online and offline settings. The results of this experiment contribute to the work contained in the WIP paper. 


To examine the selfie stick as an object that is deeply entangled in the producer/consumer and online/offline process of the networked image - an image that exists and is available in many places online/offline and across devices. An additional objective is to provoke a discussion on multi-modal digital methods – is a multi modal approach a way to triangulate data (Hine,2015)? Or rather is it a way of gathering data from different aspects to tell a fuller story of a social media phenomenon (Buczkowski and Siles, 2014)? This also leads to the objective of exploring whether these methods, coupled with STS theories can adequately help us examine social media and digital technology phenomena. 


A multi modal qualitative study including: 
• A hashtag and network analysis of tweets including the hashtag #selfiestick 
• A visual analysis and typology of 3000+ Instagram images tagged with the hashtag #selfiestick 
• Field observations in the Tate Modern art gallery and the Westminster Bridge tourist precinct of London, UK to examine attitudes and behaviours towards the selfie stick. 
• A breaching experiment at the National Gallery, London . 


The results from this study tend to indicate that a different narrative surrounding selfie sticks is being told by the mainstream media in comparison to the lived experience. 
Although the mainstream media tells a story of selfie sticks causing annoyance and held up as a symbol of the ultimate narcissistic act, the analysis of pictures taken with selfie sticks shows that those using it, are capturing everyday life with those they love to share with those they love (whether they be family, friends or pets). Instead of contributing to the perceived narcissistic ‘selfie’ culture, they have spawned and enabled a new ‘groupfie’ culture, one that tends to reflect care and attention to loved one, similar to that outlined by Miller with regard to our motivations for shopping (Miller, 1998). 

Future Work: 

This Work-In-Progress piece is intended to become a PhD chapter to explore the methodological opportunities to research the networked image throughout its offline and online life cycle. More broadly, the piece of work will explore technology’s role in the rise of the networked image, portraying slices of everyday, mundane life. 


Boczkowski, P. J & Siles, I. (2014). Steps toward cosmopolitanism in the study of media technologies: Integrating scholarship on production, consumption, materiality, and content. In Gillespie, T., Boczkowski, P.J., and Foot, K.A. (Eds.) Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society. (pp. 53–76). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 

Hine, C. (2015). Mixed Methods and Multimodal Research and Internet Technologies. In Hesse-Biber, S.N, and Johnson, R.B.(Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Multimethods and Mixed Methods Research Inquiry. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. 

Miller, D. (1998). A theory of shopping. Oxford: Polity.

avatar for Jessamy Perriam

Jessamy Perriam

PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths, University of London

Tuesday July 28, 2015 10:31 - 12:00
(9th Floor) TRS 3-176 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

Attendees (8)