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Produsing Theory in a Digital World 2.0

The Intersection of Audiences and Production in Contemporary Theory – Volume 2


Rebecca Ann Lind

Continuing the explorations begun in the first Produsing Theory volume, this book provides a site at which varied theories – some still emerging – can intersect and shine a light into the spaces between what previously had been neatly separated and discrete components of media systems. In some settings, division by audience, content, and production settings remains useful, but this volume, like the first, is all about the interstices.
Contributors reflect varied perspectives in their approaches to the spaces formed as a result of rapidly developing and swiftly deploying new communications technologies and social software. They shine multiple spotlights into the intersection of audiences and production, providing a guide toward a nuanced understanding of the interstitial spaces.
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6 Understanding the Popularity of Social Media: Flow Theory, Optimal Experience, and Public Media Engagement



Understanding the Popularity of Social Media: Flow Theory, Optimal Experience, and Public Media Engagement

John V. Pavlik

Social media are a wildly popular form of communication. Tweeting, posting to Facebook, and sharing photos on Instagram or Pinterest and other forms of social media engage 73% of the U.S. public, according to data from the Pew Research Internet Project (Lunden, 2013). Social networking media are also popular around the world. For instance, estimates are that at least half of China’s 600 million or so Internet users utilize social media (Mei, 2012). Beyond China, social media are also increasingly popular in many other regions. In Qatar and elsewhere in the Gulf region of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, social media, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are heavily used across many social strata (Northwestern University in Qatar, 2014). Globally, data suggest at least one in four persons uses social media around the world (eMarketer, 2013). In 2014, Yahoo estimates people will take 880 billion photos, many of them selfies posted on social media (Agence France Press, 2013).

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