25/03/2021    (Thursday) 13:00-14:00 E21B-G002

Global Digital Culture Industry: The Case of TikTok/Douyin

This talk unpacks the integrated ways in which Douyin makes trending items (爆款) for monetization. Differing from the umbrella term “viral video,” trending items represent the audiovisual assemblage of creators, sounds, filters, effects, stickers, word bubbles, and possibly, embedded links to what creators are modeling (e.g. clothes, shoes, or cosmetics). For Douyin, the making of trending items is mediated by middle-end (中台), an infrastructure framework/dashboard that connects cloud data with business groups. The middle-end facilitates multi-faceted collaborations, bringing together business (non-technical) and algorithm (technical) teams to optimize business solutions. Digital culture industry is therefore collaborative outcomes of automatic algorithms and human engineering. Although algorithms are centrally involved in digital cultural production, this process is not independent of human intervention. Overall, the talk offers insights into the complex interplay of infrastructures, algorithms, creators/users, and platform companies in the global advancement of digital culture industry.


Shuaishuai Wang (PhD, University of Amsterdam) is a Lecturer in New Media and Digital Culture at the Media Studies Department of the University of Amsterdam. His research examines various datafied and algorithmic processes of digital platforms. He was awarded a seed grant from Global Digital Cultures, one of the Research Priority Areas (RPA) at the University of Amsterdam, for the project “The Algorithmic Configurations of Sexuality on Social Media.” His previous work can be found in Information, Communication & Society, Media, Culture & Society, Feminist Media Studies, and Sexualities.