Why vine is a perfect medium for comedy


Two words: Jump cut

In film, the jump cut, or abrupt transition from one frame to the next, functions like a quick, confusing, and incongruous utterance. The viewer is required to fill in the missing rationale or logic, although she doesn’t realize it. In humor theory, incongruity theory describes “laughter in response to a perception of incongruity.” The jump cut evokes humor, as seen on Vine, the popular short video mobile app with a growing number of aspiring and established comedians.

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Preview of My Upcoming #RLR2014 Talk


On Monday, October 14th from 6-8pm I’ll be presenting at this year’s first Racial Literacy Roundtable at Teachers College, Columbia University. I’ll be discussing my current research that involves working with court-involved youth in NYC to develop a mobile platform using participatory design and ethnographic methodologies.

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Pilot Study Bibliography: Participatory Design, CI Youth, & Mobile Tech


The following is an ever growing alphabetized bibliography (you’re welcome) of my current doctoral research involving participatory design, court-involved youth, and mobile technology.

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Excerpt from my current research on #PD #mobile #youth #justice

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(Photo by Tara L. Conley)

The following is an excerpt from an article draft I’m currently working on about participatory design, mobile text messaging service, and court-involved youth:

During the summer of 2013 amid a controversial mayoral race in New York City[1], mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed legislation that, in part, would create an independent inspector general to oversee the New York City Police Department (Goodman; 2013) and would allow for an expansive definition of individual identity categories under the current law. The four bills, together named the Community Safety Act (Communities United for Policing Reform; 2012), were brought forth by City Council as a result of a legal policing practice called Stop-and-Frisk. This policing practice allows New York City police officers to stop, question, and frisk citizens under reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

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Court-involved youth and social meanings of mobile phones

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photo by Tara L. Conley

“The mobile is the glue that holds together various nodes in these social networks: it serves as the predominant personal tool for the coordination of everyday life, for updating oneself on social relations, and for the collective sharing of experiences. It is therefore the mediator of meanings and emotions that may be extremely important in the ongoing formation of young people’s identities” (Stald; 2008, pg. 161).

“Dependency Court involved youth rarely have access to a computer or cell phone, and even when they do, it is often only for a short period of time” (Peterson; 2010, pg. 7).

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Transcribing data on a Sunday afternoon

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Excerpt of transcribed audio from the first TXT CONNECT youth advisory board meeting on March 12, 2013:

What we’re doing is building a communication platform for these young people. It’s not just mobile text messaging. It’s Facebook–and another thing I was thinking with the Facebook page is to do exactly what you guys are saying and suggesting, which is to build this community online where young people can feel like ‘Okay, I know exactly where I need to go to get information.’ The platform that we’re trying to build–the purpose of it is to connect all of these resources together for young people. It’s like a one-stop shop for [court-involved youth] who want to get information about A, B, or C. They know they can go to whatever it is that we’re calling it.

The First Family and Their Cell Phones

first family cell phones

On January 21, 2013, I sat glued to my television and computer screens while watching the pomp and ceremony of Barack Obama’s 2nd inauguration. Of all the events, I was most drawn to the inaugural parade. For about an hour, I had the pleasure of catching a unique glimpse of the family’s down-to-earthiness. I also got a chance to completely geek out while watching Sasha, Malia, the First Lady, and President Obama use their cell phones.

Though this written observation is retrospective, I was able to look back at YouTube videos, Instagram and Twitter photos to notate the activities and approximate frequency with which the First Family used their mobile devices. It was fascinating to watch Sasha and Malia play on their phones. The Obama girls held their cell phone for most of the parade (which lasted roughly 1 hour long). The cell phone appeared to be an integral part of the family unit. I am reminded of Sharples, et al., discussion about cell phones in that they function as tools or “interactive agents in the process of coming to know” (pg. 7). It can be argued that this moment was a coming to know experience for the Obama girls as they snapped several pics of their mom and dad kissing, and took endearing photos of each other holding up the peace sign and making funny faces.

obama girls

Perhaps the most profound takeaway from my observation is recognizing that this humanizing moment between members of the First Family, and as witnessed by the American public, was enabled by a mobile device. While watching the First Family on their cell phones, I couldn’t help but wonder what they were looking at, who they were texting, what apps were they using to edit photos, and also about the security involved in keeping the First Family and the girls’ data ‘safe and private’. I also thought about how fitting it is that Barack Obama is the first wired president in history of the United States. Since 2008, Obama’s campaign has been credited with successfully using social and mobile media for fundraising and organizing. The Obama administration prides itself on connecting with Americans using Twitter, Reddit, and Google Hangout.

While there’s much to celebrate about this unique moment in techno-history, I also wonder about the cultural politics of the First Family and mobile technology. So much is to be said for the relationship between technology and its presence in the lives of vulnerable populations, particularly poor people, young girls, and people of color. The visual representation of the First Family using their cell phones illuminates conversations about what, in fact, it means for a prominent Black family with two adolescent girls to engage with mobile technology during an historical and digitally social moment. There’s much to be analyzed.


Sharples, M., Taylor, J., Vavoula, G. (2005). Towards a theory of mobile learning. University of Birmingham. UK.