Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kevin Mernin's Blog: Spills on The Hills

The Internet has many promises for eliminating social inequality and bringing together people who many differ demographically and live on opposite sides of the country but have similar interests. But the Internet can also lead to new divisions in society between those have access to new digital media, those who participate in activities using digital media, and those whose content online is visible to the public.
Through my project, a fan blog called “Spills on The Hills” dedicated to MTV’s television show The Hills, I have come to learn about each form of divide. My blog’s intended audience was for those who watch the show or at least knew of the show. This means, for the most part, my intended audience was young (late teens and early 20s). The audience for The Hills tends to be a similar age group. Fortunately, the digital divide worked to my benefit here. Older people spend less time online, so the age group that would be least likely to visit my blog would be less likely to be online anyway. For websites in general, this means they may, on average, target younger Internet users. This also means that the majority of the people participating online (that is posting content like blogs) would most likely be younger. This could also benefit my blog, in that younger bloggers may be more likely to read my blog and post a link to it in one of their own entries.
Unfortunately, the last divide found on the Internet harms small time bloggers like myself who are looking for readers outside of a few close friends. Some websites, those that usually have corporate sponsorship attract large numbers of visitors. For example, MTV has pages for The Hills were writers who work for MTV dish out opinions and little stories about the show and the cast members. These sites, with more money behind them, more people working on them, and with the MTV name backing them probably receive more views than I could ever imagine receiving. Websites like MTV or even other entertainment news/gossip websites like have another advantage in that their content is not devote to one particular subject; anyone looking for information on MTV shows or celebrity gossip may come across content on The Hills. I however, only cover content about the show and the cast, thus my intended audience is a smaller group of people. Other websites that may not have the money behind them that and have, but they have a large number of visitors do to other things. The website, while not affiliated with in any way, obviously was able to get that domain name before any other. They have the advantage of a common name that fans may search for in the Google search engine. All of these websites have advantages over those run by single every day users like myself. With greater popularity, they obviously have higher rankings on Google/Yahoo/Bing search results. Because these search engines are some of the most commonly used it is difficult for smaller websites to get an audience. They have to resort to websites like Facebook and Twitter where they can post their websites and hope friends will visit and maybe recommend the websites to others. As we have learned in class, gaining a local audience comes before gaining a larger audience elsewhere. So while my website got a few viewers, due to huge divides in visibility between the millions of small websites and the few popular websites, my blog will likely not ever gain much popularity.

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