Independent movie theaters (IMTs) are a part of the cultural infrastructure that offers shared spaces for patron communities to access, share, and engage with cultural artifacts. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMTs were mandated to shut down, resulting in unanticipated infrastructural breakdown. Drawing insights from a preliminary survey and interviews with staff members from 18 IMTs in the U.S., this paper attends to how this breakdown disrupted art and community engagement within patron communities. We investigate the sociotechnical practices of maintaining cultural infrastructure through 1) collaborating with community partners and external stakeholders, 2) screening films through online virtual cinema platforms, and 3) retaining community members through online platforms. Our work highlights the tensions and invisible human labor in this maintenance work. Together, this work intends to foreground cultural infrastructure and discuss how HCI can support and contribute to the design and oft-invisible maintenance of cultural infrastructure.
The prevalence of social media blurs the boundaries between consumer and producer, work and play, and leads to new social roles, professions, and identities (e.g. blogger, YouTuber, micro-celebrity). However, we still lack a clear understanding of how people come to identify with these new roles and how individual professional development is digitally mediated. This paper presents a study based on Bilibili, a popular Chinese social media platform featuring user-generated videos, and highlights a professionalization process through which individuals consciously distinguish between the roles of uploaders and consumers, develop a shared work ethos around the role of the uploader, and, as uploaders, improve their technical-professional expertise. We conclude by discussing individualized professionalization as a concept that describes the bottom-up and community-based process of professional development for User Generated Content (UGC) taking place in contemporary digital media environments.
As more individuals consider permanently working from home, the online labor market continues to grow as an alternative working environment. While the flexibility and autonomy of these online gigs attracts many workers, success depends critically upon self-management and workers' efficient allocation of scarce resources. To achieve this, freelancers may develop alternative work strategies, employing highly standardized schedules and communication patterns while taking on large work volumes, or engaging in smaller numbers of jobs whilst tailoring their activities to build relationships with individual employers. In this study, we consider this contrast in relation to worker communication patterns. We demonstrate the heterogeneous effects of standardization versus personalization across different stages of a project and examine the relative impact on job acquisition, project completion, and earnings. Our findings can inform the design of platforms and various worker support tools for the gig economy.
People often form small conversation groups during physical gatherings to have ad-hoc and informal conversations. As these groups are loosely defined, others can often overhear and join the conversation. However, current video-conferencing tools only allow for strict boundaries between small conversation groups, inhibiting fluid group formations and between-group conversations. This isolates small-group conversations from others and leads to inefficient transitions between conversations. We present FluidMeet, a virtual breakout meeting system that employs flexible conversation boundaries and cross-group conversation visualizations to enable fluid conversation group formations and ad-hoc, informal conversations. FluidMeet enables out-group members to overhear group conversations while allowing conversation groups to control their shared level of context. Users within conversation groups can also quickly switch between in-group and private conversations. A study of FluidMeet showed that it encouraged users to break group boundaries, made them feel less isolated in group conversations, and facilitated communication across different groups.