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Revision: Language of the 21st Century

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Yup, more revision. Fun times.

You know the drill, if you have any more resources, please comment below.


The key thing with this unit is knowledge of different text types. No offence to the hoard of examiners who I’m sure are definitely reading this, but you probably know more about this unit than they do, simply by using the internet. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from the grand total of two papers there are already. That said, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re consciously thinking about all the factors involved in this unit.

As half the marks are for context, that’s a really important element to revise here.


Possible considerations

With most data sets that they can throw at you, you’ll be able to analyse the following contextual factors:

  • The identity of the sender/poster
  • The type of their account – many websites have both public and private account options. Donald Trump, for example, also has two accounts; one presidential and one personal
  • The intended audience – for a message this may be just one person or a group, for a post this may be a specific demographic, etc.
  • The purpose
  • The original content that it relates to (if a comment)

Different Platforms

Below are the details of how various platforms work, and things that may be worth mentioning.


YouTube

Created in 2006, YouTube is predominantly a video sharing platform, but gives users the ability to comment on videos, name their videos and create a description for them. Users have “Channels” where all their videos are displayed. One user can have multiple channels. Videos can be liked and disliked by users.

More recently, YouTube was integrated with Google+, meaning that the previous username function was replaced with Google+ profiles displayed next to comments.

In comments, users can share links, and also link to a specific moment in the video.

The website also allows users to filter the comments on their own videos, flagging comments that are likely to be spam. This has helped combat the previous issue of a large number of spam comments.

The addition of an ads feature means that “YouTuber” has become a valid career. Successful YouTubers blog about lifestyle, gaming or pretty much anything, often forming a close relationship with their “subscribers”.


Facebook

Facebook is primarily portrayed as a free network for users to communicate with friends, but it has also become a platform for advertising and for following public figures.

Users add “friends” and their request must be accepted. Everyone has a profile, in which they can add a biography, details about themselves and posts. They have the power to set the privacy of their posts and information, be it public, just their friends, or just a specific group of people.

Business pages can be “followed” by people. Some pages can be followed by anyone, whereas some require an invite. The same goes for “groups”. Business pages can also pay to have their ads promoted to users, using algorithms to target advertising.

Many apps can share posts directly to Facebook with a default text.

Facebook has recently been in the news for issues surrounding data protection. This is due to users having their data passed on to third parties without knowing that they had consented. Also, there has been some concern that targeted content helped sway political decisions.


Twitter

Twitter users can share “tweets”, which are text posts under a certain character limit. Users can also add photos, links, videos and hashtags, along with tagging other users with the “@” symbol.

Users also have a profile, in which they can upload a short biography, their location and other information about themselves. They have both a username and a display name.

They also have a direct messaging function, often referred to as “DM” by users.

Twitter recently raised their character limit from 140 to 280 characters.


Snapchat

Users send images to eachother, with the option to add text, gifs and emojis. This text must be below 80 characters. The sender can set the amount of time the recipient can view the picture for, but once it has been closed, the recipient can only replay it once.

Snaps can be sent to multiple people, and can also be added to the “story” feature in which they disappear after 24 hours.

There is also a chat feature in which users can send longer messages, which doesn’t disappear as fast.


SMS

SMS or text messages can only be sent using a mobile number. It generally costs more to send images, and texters are commonly charged per a certain amount of characters.

Due to constraints caused by the way keypads used to be, texting used to be characterized by abbreviations that were common knowledge. The Rebus principle was also present, for example, the phrase “?4U” which uses a “say what you see” approach to getting a message across.

It is also possible to send a text to multiple recipients. This is utilised by advertising and phishing companies to attract clients.


Memes

Memes often accompany images. The language used is often non-standard, either to fit on the image or for humour. The main purpose of memes is usually to entertain.

Often, one meme can appear in many different forms, as users contribute their own take. They also often rely on a level of shared understanding to get the joke.


Email

Due to more instant methods of communication such as Facebook and other IMs, email is more commonly associated with work. Despite the 21st century shift towards spoken language, many people still send emails written in full sentences.

Emails have a “subject” line which serves as a sort of title for the recipient.

There’s still more of an expectation for sign-offs, with many platforms allowing a “signature” that automatically appears on all messages that are sent.

It is generally accepted that the more important someone is in a company, the more non-standard the language in their emails is, due to the amount of time that it takes to write an email.


Blogs

If you’re here, you probably know more about blogs than I could tell you. However, there are a few basics that I’ll point out.

There are a large variety of blogging platforms which allow users to do different things. Many permit multiple authors on the same blog, comments, and separate pages within the same blog.


IM

There are many different platforms for instant messaging. Some allow users to create groups, some have a received and read marker, some indicate whether a user is typing and many are free to use.

WhatsApp is an example of an instant messenger. Many people choose this one because it is encrypted, unlike others. Facebook messenger is another popular one. In fact, many social networks also have an instant messaging feature, even Pinterest.


Instagram

While Instagram is primarily a photo sharing platform, it allows users to caption their photos and also comment. Hashtags are commonly used to help other users find the poster’s content.

Users also have a profile in which they can enter a biography, and also upload “stories” for 24 hours. These stories are also image based, but often have text on top. Stories can be saved to a user’s profile permanently, in their “highlights”.

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