Materials and Methodological Solutions
Social media landscapes: Tracing the uses and functions of a hybrid sign
1. Focusing on social media landscapes
The various social media form a significant part of the semiotic landscapes today. In the Western world, a great part of the adult population uses a range of internet-based applications both at work and at home. Adolescents, in turn, may even be described as digital natives (Prensky 2001), meaning that they have spent much of their lives using various technological applications, playing games, browsing the internet, and participating in social activities through applications. It is fair to say that computers and various internet-based social media applications have become an important space where people spend time, encounter and make use of semiotic signs. These social media applications offer activities and a space for social interaction for a growing number of people. In addition, there exists considerable diversity in terms of activities in which people participate. They range from blogs to innumerable chats rooms and to highly diverse social media groups where practically any topic may be discussed (e.g. Vertovec 2007; Blommaert and Rampton 2011).
It might not be too far-fetched to say that these various social media spaces form real places for many people. These spaces could be compared to spending spare time and encountering semiotic signs in a real physical space, such as moving around in a city, taking a walk, or engaging in mediated activities such as movies. The change whereby social media has emerged as a space has been extremely rapid, permanent, and holistic. The concept...
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