Re: Residual

The idea of residual value, has both a cultural and economic basis of calculation.  As Jenkins et al discuss in their chapter on “Reappraising the Residual,” in his book, Spreadable Media, with the advent of spreadable media, the residual value of cultural items have changed in both cultural value as well as economic value. The Internet has allowed for those who had niche interests in consumer goods to now share this interest and their personal archives of this on a larger scale– which in turn changes the original residual value of the item and makes it revalued in the market. Marketing nostalgia has always been an important way to create capital.

 The residual can linger in BlogImage_Week_H7popular memory, become the  object of nostalgic longing, be used as a resource for  making sense of one’s present life and identity, serve as the  basis of a critique of current institutions and practices, and    spark conversations. In short, residual content may become   a prime candidate for spreadability.

What one places value on or how one asses values varies on many levels. Jenkins et al. mainly use examples of ‘old stuff,’ that may no longer have commercial interests, but are specialty items, cult items to those who are now ‘curators’ of the history of the entity (85-86). These curators are mostly consumers of the product or media entity, not the producers themselves, making this more of a ‘grassroots’ movement. It is similar to our discussion of those who participate in Online fandoms. There are now many platforms through which these people can connect and share their knowledge on specific interests and share the curated material, which has become an important activity in the Online world where ‘sharing’ has become a primary function in social interactions through these platforms and networks. The shared items are often those that had strong cultural value in the past and thus strong cultural residual value to those who feel nostalgic towards it. I once found a song clip in two minutes that my grandmother had not heard in 70 years, simply by looking it up on Youtube.

Jenkins et al state in the introduction, “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead” (1).  This is important when thinking of residual value– as those who share their resourced return an economic and cultural residual value on a larger scale as well as return things that may have been popular in history to the popular market. The book gives the examples of Ebay and YouTube, as platforms through which consumers can exchange information or goods based on these cultural items they value highly– and platforms through which it is easy to actively ‘share’. Things that were once lost in history can be reintroduced into the market and those who feel are important. Jenkins et al. quote Will Straw,

In fact, the Internet has strengthened the cultural weight of the past, increasing its intelligibility and accessibility. On the Internet, the past is produced as a field of ever greater coherence, through the gathering together of disparate artifacts into sets or collections and through the commentary and annotation that cluster around such agglomerations, made possible in part by high-capacity storage mechanisms (97).

The Internet is an important resource for storing historical information and data. The ability for similar access to consumers means that people can upload their cultural items into this large “high-capacity storage mechanism” and in making it public- almanac-covermade it available to others. There have been many revivals of seemingly lost culture– Jenkins et al. give the example of SteamPunk. One movement, I am particularly attached to is the movement of young farmers- which I believe has been made better and easily ‘spreadable’ due to the media surrounding it. There was a historical movement away from smaller-scale farming and towards industrial farming, but now there is a large movement towards the rural lifestyle again, and the Internet provides ways for those who take interest in this to create an ‘agglomeration’ of resources and networks. The knowledge one has is now easily ‘spreadable’ and the ability for most everyone to actively ‘share’ something that will be stored means creating an enormous archive of resources for culture to be remembered and reval


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