5dez 2022
06:30 UTC

Hosting – a reflexive digital media practice

Mobile live video streaming with smartphones is an everyday media practice in which the participants are in a specific multimodal constellation and streamers and viewers have access to various semiotic resources for interactionally establishing alignment. Based on the multimodal sequence analysis of a concise episode of a journalist’s livestream coverage on the streaming platform Periscope, I will address the question of how discourse in live video streams is organised by the participants. I will show that hosts in the media practice of live video streaming act in an interaction-dominant manner and involve the viewers in the situation through asymmetrical participation coordination.

Whenever people communicate, especially digitally, the interaction that takes place is conditioned by medial affordances. In digital settings, hosts play a central role precisely when they can decisively dominate these medial conditions. Hosting is thus to be understood as the arrangement of mediated digital interaction, through which the host unilaterally conditions the medial, multimodal, and semiotic framework and resources of an interaction situation by both prospectively setting it up and continuously administrating it. In my Twitter presentation, I will address specific linguistic features by which hosting is constituted as a reflexive linguistic practice in the course of a mobile livestream conversation. I will do so by initially showing a video sequence and subsequently discussing multimodal transcripts. I will point out how the host uses indexical references to establish the participation framework between the host and the audience.

Hosts, as will be shown, address three fundamental dimensions of a situation which, following Bühler’s notion of the speech situation can be defined as the spatial, temporal, and personal constellation practically made present in interaction. ‘Making-present’ is thus to be seen as a situation-constitutive practice through which participants express situations, but also create them in the first place. Live broadcasts such as video streams are particularly dependent on ongoing situational practices of ‘making-present’ due to their ongoing ephemerality.

Hosting is a media practice that presituatively prepares digital interaction situations with regard to the orientation of the participants and dominates them situatively. The host thus adopts the potential to act semiotically and delegate participation status. In the excerpt discussed, the opening sequence, the camerawork, the set-up on the account of the live video stream platform, and also the point in time chosen for focused interaction constitute hosting as reflexive, i.e. displaying itself as a media practice. The discussion contributes to the pragmatic debate on digital interaction and, in the tradition of media linguistics, puts a special focus on the linguistic constitution of meaning under consideration of its medial circumstances.