Digital Authorship
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Digital Authorship

The Extra-ordinary Emma Chamberlain

For my Leap 2 Assignment for my Digital Authorship EDC 534, I partnered up with my classmate, Carrie Mathias to identify a YouTube digital author: Emma Chamberlain and specifically analyze one of her creative videos “Bed”, by applying critical questions and key concepts of digital and media literacy.

I particularly enjoyed the communication style between Carrie and I, and I think our organization is what made me feel like I could approach this project — I was initially overwhelmed, seeing as I do not have a strong background in working with digital literacy tools. Another thing I enjoyed was applying the foundational concepts we’ve been working on for four weeks onto the case study. Emma Chamberlain has also been considered by the New York Times as “the most important YouTuber working today”, and so it fits perfectly to have her as our case study, and intentionally apply concepts and critical questions surrounding digital authorship. For me, the threads between classroom materials and real-life Emma Chamberlain videos were clear and made sense. I actually appreciate that LEAP 2 focused on a single case study, which made my learning more effective. One aspect of the project experience that I disliked was having to communicate with my partner largely over email. I understand that the class is set up to have communication take place over the internet, and maybe I’m slowly adjusting to the new way of doing things — after spending all my life and project experiences collaborating physically with partners and groups.

In terms of what I’ve learned about Emma Chamberlain is that she is a skillful YouTuber. What I mean by this is I went into her videos to “study” her, basically for this assignment, but I found myself connecting with her, laughing at her quirky videos and identifying with the places she’s visited. I actually spent more time than I had previously allocated going through more of her videos and reading up on her history. Specifically, I learned that she is very brave, having left home at 19 to focus on her digital identity and footprints, which has been going well as evidenced by the number of awards she’s been nominated for and won. In reading about her in the NYT article, I discovered that Emma dropped out of high school to get away from the unnecessary drama usually found in high schools, so this seclusion from that life saw her starting to record and edit YouTube videos, so I think it was brave of her to make that decision for herself and at such an age. Though she ended up having to deal with the drama in a new light when she moved to Los Angeles. I also learned that Emma Chamberlain’s originality and this need to be her authentic self when recording videos has amassed her very quick gathering and has even begun a wave of other digital authors mimicking her style — her influence is large and keeps growing. The NYT article compares her to someone twice her age, and I can only imagine what more is to come. I am very pleased to have been a part of the Emma Chamberlain project. In fact, she has made me seriously think about starting my own YouTube channel! (Been thinking about it for years but watching Emma had me thinking … why not?!)

What I learned about Carrie is that she is deliberate, organized and proactive. Immediately after showing interest in working with her, she emailed me more information on Emma Chamberlain, and where to get additional resources. She also set up a google doc where we’ve been exchanging ideas and information since. She is also very patient — in that she took her time in the first email to give me a background on Emma Chamberlain and asked for my opinion on whether to study Emma as a digital author, and I thought this was patient and inclusive. I really enjoyed how we ultimately ended up with this video and how we each had stakes in making the google doc and Adobe Creative Cloud Express presentation what it ended up being. Finally, I see her thoughtfulness beyond the classroom. She suggested Emma Chamberlain because she is among the YouTubers her students most identify with. I learned (and was reminded) that I took this class because even though I do not have a large background in the digital world, I am very interested in becoming a bigger and active participant as a digital author. I learned that it takes sacrifice and commitment, and reading the resources for this project felt like my personal research for when I venture out to this world.

Works Cited:

Balleys, C., Millerand, F., Thoër, C., & Duque, N. (2020). Searching for oneself on YouTube: Teenage peer socialization and social recognition processes. Social Media+ Society, 6(2), 2056305120909474.

Bromwich, Jonah Engel. “What if Being A YouTube Celebrity Is Actually Backbreaking Work?” New York Times, 11 July 2019, p. D1(L). Gale OneFile: Business. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022.

“Emma Chamberlain Makes Peace With Her Internet Baggage.” W Magazine, https://www.wmagazine.com/culture/emma-chamberlain-youtube-fashion-interview. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022.

“Emma Chamberlain.” Wikipedia, 23 Feb. 2022. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Emma_Chamberlain&oldid=1073552404.

Hobbs, Renee. Create to Learn: Introduction to Digital Literacy. Wiley, Blackwell, 2017.

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