New Collections and Possible Directions

By Diana G. Zulli

We are happy to announce that over the last two months, the S-MAP has doubled in size. We have added mobile versions to the Imzy, Ello, and Voat collections. More notable is the addition of a new collection Mastodon instances. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

  • More of Imzy, including mobile: Founded out of Salt Lake City, Utah, Imzy is marketed as a “friendlier” alternative to Reddit and is designed to support positive interactions among niche communities. Unfortunately, Imzy recently shut down, so we are fortunate to have captured the mobile versions of this site while still available.
  • Mobile shots of Ello: Ello functions as an alternative to Pinterest and provides a space for users to showcase art, fashion, and photography. Ello interactions extend to hiring opportunities, shopping, and creative collaborations, all of which are available through the app.
  • Mobile shots of Voat: Voatify, the corresponding app for the social networking site Voat, is also similar to Reddit. Voatify houses a collection of themed categories, termed “subverses,” and is popular for its no censorship policy.
  • Mastodon collection, including instance rules: Mastodon is a federated, open-source social networking site that values small communities and bottom-up site moderation. Mastodon’s user experience is similar to Twitter, where users can post short messages and interact with each other. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon users join volunteer-led “instances” or communities. Each Mastodon instance reflects a distinct community with rules and privacy policies unique to that instance. The S-MAP now houses both the desktop and mobile versions of several Mastodon instances, as well as dozens of collected rules pages.

In total, the S-MAP had added nearly 300 items to the above collections. Specific items include site/app descriptions, user reviews, sign-up processes, privacy and user policies, and site interfaces.

Since the items on the S-MAP include a wide range of topics, we are confident the S-MAP will be useful for a variety of teaching, research, and methodological objectives. Potential directions include:

  • Teaching:
    • The ethical considerations of information sharing/data gathering online
    • Alternative social media sites as a business
    • Privacy and censorship in alternative media
  • Research:
    • The nature of online communities
    • How the interfaces of alternative social media sites construct user behavior compared to more mainstream social media sites (e.g., posting behavior, viewing behavior, construction of appropriate topics, community formation).
    • The ideological construction of site values/priorities. That is, how site descriptions, instructions, and policies promote different beliefs or values.
    • How the notion of “alternative” is inscribed into each site’s interface and design
  • Methodological Perspectives:
    • Platform Studies (e.g., exploring interfaces, social media architecture, and how these systems can be modified)
    • Textual of Content Analyses (e.g., analyzing/comparing the material realities of each site)
    • Visual Analyses (e.g., analyzing compositional elements of site images to see how they work in relation to a broader system of meaning)

We are excited by the growth of the S-MAP and hope to include more content in the near future. Contact us if you draw on our collections!