Useful Creativity: Vernacular Reviewing on the Video-Sharing Platform Vimeo


  • Maarit Jaakkola Centre for Nordic Media Research Nordicom, University of Gothenburg, Sweden



Online reviewing, user-generated content, cultural engagement, cultural production, cultural intermediation, cultural produsage


This article intends to cast light on the phenomenon of non-institutionalised or vernacular reviewing by studying the review videos published on the video-sharing platform Vimeo. The data were automatically retrieved by searching for videos provided with the hashtag #review. The majority of these review videos (N = 1,273) were related to the technical equipment of filming and produced by filmmakers and enthusiastic amateurs interested in camera equipment and digital filming quality. The analysis describes the forms of reviewing in these videos and attempts to place them in the conceptual framework of reviewing, which, as is suggested in the article, reaches beyond the professional reviews commissioned by legacy media. Central questions are the delivery of an opinion or judgement, the imagined audience and the establishment of authority. Vimeo reviewers are characterised as both “professional vernacular” and “amateur vernacular” reviewers, reflecting a two-direction approach to reviewing, the one from cultural production (produsage) and the other from cultural consumption (presumption). The findings call for more conceptual elaboration of vernacularity in cultural critique.


<p>Acland, Charles R. &amp; Wasson, Haidee (eds.) (2011). Useful Cinema. Durham: Duke University Press.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Alexander, Victoria D. (2010): Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. </p><p>Baym, Nancy K. (2015): &quot;Connect with Your Audience! The Relational Labor of Connection&quot;. The Communication Review, 18:1, 14-22.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Beaudouin, Valérie &amp; Pasquier, Dominique (2017): &quot;Forms of contribution and contributors' profiles: An automated textual analysis of amateur on line film critics.&quot; New Media &amp; Society, 19:11, 1810-1828.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Bennett, Tony (1992). &quot;Useful culture.&quot; Cultural Studies 6(3), 398-408.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Beuscart, Jean-Samuel &amp; Mellet, Kevin (2016): &quot;Shaping consumers' online voices: Algorithmic apparatus or evaluation culture?&quot; Robert Seyfert, &amp; Jonathan Roberge (eds): Algorithmic Cultures: Essays on Meaning, Performance, and New Technologies. London and New York: Routledge, 88-106. </p><p>Blank, Grant (2007): Critics, Ratings, and Society: The Sociology of Reviews. Lanham: Rowman &amp; Littlefield Publishers. </p><p>Bloom, Philip (2013): &quot;Review of the Canon 1DC&quot; Vimeo, January 26 2013. Retrieved from </p><p>Bloom, Philip (2014): &quot;The no longer evolving review of the Sony A7S now with extreme low light video&quot;, Philip Bloom, July 3 2014. Retrieved from </p><p>Bourdieu, Pierre (1993): The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Cambridge: Polity Press. </p><p>Bruns, Axel (2008): Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond. New York: Peter Lang. </p><p>Bruns, Axel (2016): &quot;User-Generated Content,&quot; Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Robert T. Craig, Jefferson D. Pooley, &amp; Eric W. Rothenbuhler (eds): The International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1-5. </p><p>Burgess, Jean E. (2006): &quot;Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital storytelling,&quot; Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 2, 201-214.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Carroll, Noël (2009): On Criticism: Thinking in Action. New York: Routledge. </p><p>Conti, Olivia (2013): &quot;Disciplining the Vernacular: Fair Use, YouTube, and Remixer Agency,&quot; M/C Journal, 16:4. Retrieved from </p><p>Corner, John (2013): &quot;Criticism': Notes on the Circulation of Cultural Judgement,&quot; JOMEC Journal, 3:4.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Domsch, Stefan (2009): &quot;Critical Genres: Generic Changes of Literary Criticism in Computer-Mediated Communication,&quot; Janet Giltrow &amp; Dieter Stein (eds): Genres in the Internet. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 221-238.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Frey, Mattias &amp; Sayad, Cecilia (eds) (2015): Film Criticism in the Digital Age. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. </p><p>Geff, Gina (2012): Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Gibbs, Martin, Meese, James, Arnold, Michael, Nansen, Bjorn &amp; Carter, Marcus (2015): &quot;#Funeral and Instagram: Death, social media, and platform vernacular,&quot; Information, Communication &amp; Society, 18:3, 255-268.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Gillespie, Ryan (2012): &quot;The art of criticism in the age of interactive technology: Critics, participatory culture, and the avant-garde,&quot; International Journal of Communication, 6:1, 56-75. </p><p>Goes, Paulo B., Lin, Mingfeng &amp; Yeung, Ching-man Au (2014): &quot;'Popularity effect' in user-generated content: Evidence from online product reviews,&quot; Information Systems Research, 25:2, 222-238.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Gronow, Jukka &amp; Warde, Alan (2011): Ordinary Consumption. London and New York: Routledge. </p><p>Hohendahl, Peter Uwe (1982): Institution of Criticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. </p><p>Howard, Robert Glenn (2008): &quot;The vernacular web of participatory media,&quot; Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25:5, 490-513.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Howard, Robert Glenn (2010): &quot;The vernacular mode: Locating the non-institutional in the practice of citizenship,&quot; Daniel C. Brouwer &amp; Robert Asen (eds) Public Modalities: Rhetoric, Culture, Media, and the Shape of Public Life. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 240-262. </p><p>Ito, Mizuko (2010): &quot;The rewards of non-commercial production: Distinctions and status in the anime music video scene,&quot; First Monday, 15:5.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jaakkola, Maarit (2015): The Contested Autonomy of Arts and Journalism: Change and Continuity in the Dual Professionalism of Cultural Journalism. Tampere: Tampere University Press. </p><p>Jaakkola, Maarit (2018): &quot;Vernacular reviews as a form of co-consumption: The user-generated review videos on YouTube.&quot; MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 34:65, 10-30.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Kammer, Aske (2015): &quot;Post-industrial cultural criticism: The everyday amateur expert and the online cultural public sphere,&quot; Journalism Practice, 9:6, 872-889.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Keen, Andrew (2007): The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the Rest of Today's User Generated Media are Killing our Culture and Economy. New York: Doubleday. </p><p>Kristensen, Nete Nørgaard &amp; From, Unni (2017): &quot;From ivory tower to cross-media personas: The heterogeneous cultural critic in the media,&quot; Nete Nørgaard Kristensen &amp; Unni From (eds) Cultural Journalism and Cultural Critique in the Media. Abingdon: Routledge, 94-112. </p><p>Lauzen, Martha M. (2018a): The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2017. San Diego: Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Retrieved from https://womenintvfilm. </p><p>Lauzen, Martha M. (2018b): Thumbs Down 2018: Film Critics and Gender, and How it Matters. San Diego: Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Retrieved from Thumbs_Down_Report.pdf </p><p>McAuley, Julian &amp; Leskovec, Jure (2013): &quot;From amateurs to connoisseurs: Modeling the evolution of user expertise through online reviews.&quot; In: WWW '13 Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on World Wide Web. New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 897-908.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>McWhirther, Andrew (2016): Film Criticism and Digital Cultures: Journalism, Social Media and the Democratization of Opinion. London: IB Tauris.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>McWhirther, Andrew &amp; Lee, Kevin B. (2018): &quot;Andrew McWhirther &amp; Kevin B. Lee in dialogue 'on videographic pedagogies in the era of mass social media.&quot; Screen, 24 March 2018. </p><p>Orlik, Peter B. (2016): Media Criticism in a Digital Age: Professional and Consumer Considerations. London: Taylor &amp; Francis.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Quora (2018): &quot;How is Vimeo similar to and different from YouTube?&quot; Retrieved from </p><p>Reagle, Joseph &amp; Rhue, Lauren (2011): &quot;Gender bias in Wikipedia and Britannica,&quot; International Journal of Communication, 5:1, 1138-1158. </p><p>Rixon, Paul (2017): &quot;The impact of new forms of digital communication on press-based TV critics and the emergence of new forms of critical debate,&quot; Journalism, 18:2, 226-240.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Shirky, Clay (2008): Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: Penguin Press. </p><p>Shrum, Wesley Monroe Jr. (1996): Fringe and Fortune: The Role of Critics in High and Popular Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press. </p><p>Steiner, Ann (2010): &quot;Personal readings and public texts: Book blogs and online writing about literature,&quot; Culture Unbound, 2:2, 471-494.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Titchener, Campbell B. (1998): Reviewing the Arts. 3rd ed. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum. </p><p>Toffler, Alvin (1980): The Third Wave. London: Collins. </p><p>Verboord, Marc (2010): &quot;The legitimacy of book critics in the age of the Internet and omnivorousness: Expert critics, Internet critics and peer critics in Flanders and the Netherlands,&quot; European Sociological Review, 26:6, 623-637.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Verboord, Marc (2011): &quot;Cultural products go online: Comparing the Internet and print media on distributions of gender, genre and commercial success,&quot; Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 36:1, 441-462.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Verboord, Marc (2012): &quot;Exploring authority in the film blogosphere: Differences between male and female bloggers regarding blog content and structure&quot;, Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture, 2:3, 243-259.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Verboord, Marc (2014): &quot;The impact of peer-produced criticism on cultural evaluation. A multilevel analysis of discourse employment in online and offline film reviews,&quot; New Media &amp; Society, 16:6, 921-940.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Vimeo (2018a): &quot;How does Vimeo determine the difference between pornography and artistic or non-sexual nudity?&quot; Legal FAQs. Retrieved from </p><p>Vimeo (2018b): &quot;Tell me more about that commercial content exception,&quot; Legal FAQs. Retrieved from </p><p>Vimeo (2018c): Vimeo Guidelines. Retrieved from </p><p>Whitman, Blake (2008): &quot;New upload rules,&quot; The Vimeo Blog, July 21 2008. Retrieved from </p><p>Zimmer, Michael (2010): &quot;But the data is already public: On the ethics of research in Facebook.&quot; Ethics and Information Technology, 12:4, 313-325.<br><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>




How to Cite

Jaakkola, M. (2020) “Useful Creativity: Vernacular Reviewing on the Video-Sharing Platform Vimeo”, Culture Unbound, 12(2), pp. 373–392. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.20200420a.