19/08/2015

Summer In The City 2015


Last weekend Summer In The City the annual get together of YouTube vloggers and general Internet type people took place at London Excel on the Royal Victoria Dock with attendees from all over the world. Though the event has been going since 2009 it was only last year that the likes of the wider media (and me) heard of it as it should be. Now you can imagine vloggers saying “Oh it’s not the same since everyone’s talking about it now even that blog thiswayup.” Well they’re probably not saying exactly that but you know how it is when your niche interest becomes common currency. I felt the same when egg shell juggling went viral in 2010. Perhaps this is why a number of well known YouTubers did not attend this year? Or could it be that they are part of a rival event touring the UK later this year called AmityFest? Well the latter actually though you sense that once it broke into the mainstream media it lost some of its cache as an exclusive event. And where it not for the story of such giants in the field as Zoella and others not attending most news outlets did not seem as interested in it this time round. 





Anyhow it is important for one reason- some of these people will be shaping our media over the next decade whether we like or even know it. That may sound like an out there statement but it was claimed this week that these vloggers are seen as role models for a large number of teenagers. Essentially they are today’s pop and sports stars; some have considerably more followers than many pop stars. Even if the vloggers themselves end up having the media lifetime of an average pop star (3years or so) their work will influence others. Mind you not all teens are interested in such an event; I saw one account where a couple went as far as the venue, saw lots of people sitting on the floor with their phones. Tablets etc and they decided it was too expensive and boring so they went off somewhere else!
Anyone who has been to a fan event will recognise the choreography of queues, bags, signings and gasps of awe as Marcus Butler walks past. Well apart from the last bit. There is something of a disconnect though between the aims of the vloggers when interviewed and why they have so many followers. It’s easy to be cynical but as most of the vlogs are sort of lifestyle-orientated in message then you can see why they enjoy a wide parental approval. As role models they are certainly more acceptable than pop and rock stars used to be.
Looking at the topics of some of the panels there is no shortage of serious discussion either. On the first day, when only `creators` as they are rather grandly titled, are eligible to attend they probably plan to take over the world in secret but amongst the panels are Earn Money with YouTube, How to Vlog and Hair Products for the Vlogger. I made the last one up of course. When the public are let in for the other two days the subject matter becomes potentially more interesting with such topics as dealing with Trolls,Gamers vs Bloggers (I think this was a panel rather than an actual ruck), Ethnicity and Diversity online, Anti Bullying, Coming out on YouTube, Mental Health and Online Safety. If that doesn’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs remember the bulk of the audience are teenagers and twentysometings for whom esteem issues are very important.  Light relief can be found in the YouTube Awards which it is safe to say does not have quite as much money lavished on it as the Oscars. Yep it all sounds rather old school for something that supposedly represents new media.
Anyway a lot of people had fun and here’s a video by The Random Explorer that neatly encapsulates the lot in three minutes 15 seconds.



 

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