Screenshots as Virtual Photography
Screenshots are a ubiquitous form of visual communication online and off. They are common across the Web, in print and televisual media, where such images are required to provide evidence of screen activity. Critical analysis of screenshots as digital tools and media objects has rarely been attempted in media studies and the digital humanities, but these disciplines offer powerful and complimentary means for examining the assumptions embedded in their form and function. In this chapter I couple the investigation of screenshots as a convergence of old and new media technologies with the emerging processes for data analysis and network visualization. I seek to augment the hermeneutic and phenomenological interpretation of screenshots by drawing on the new tools for gathering quantitative information and mapping patterns of their circulation online. I take digital game screenshots as the primary subject of inquiry and consider them as a form of virtual photography, examining the role of cybernetics, remediation, and affect in their production and distribution. This study employs the open source network visualization tool NodeXL to expand the theoretical and qualitative investigation by graphing the deployment of game screenshots across two social media sites, Twitter and Flickr. The results presented here demonstrate details of Flickr screenshot tagging practices and the use of screenshots in Twitter profile images as two examples of participation in networked digital game cultures and the individual expression of online persona.
KeywordsVirtual World Media Object Social Media Site Digital Tool Digital Game
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