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Presentation made at the Digital Cultures workshop in 2008 in Manchester. Outlines the concept of the Shopblog and uses examples from Singapore.

Presentation made at the Digital Cultures workshop in 2008 in Manchester. Outlines the concept of the Shopblog and uses examples from Singapore.

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  • The title is taken from the terms and conditions of yourlilattic.blogspot.com Perhaps curiously google now indexes two sites for this specific phrase, the original blog and the abstract for this paper! Superficially the development of blogshops appear to be ‘just’ another collection of blogs but closer examination reveal a complex anthropologically rich environment that brings together economic need, locational circumstance, technological capacity and the adaption of these circumstances for personal benefit. This paper is not an easy shot at the english of singaporean girls but rather an indepth examination of the social and economic network of teenage girls in singapore who are maximising their economic power by swapping and buying secondhand clothes and engaging in shopping ‘sprees’.
  • A conflicting set of interests in which the researchers’ interpretations overlay the experience of the participants. From the outside the blogshop is an alternative form of commerce that utilises technology to encourage recycling and a political resistance to conventional ‘shopping’ practices through large retailers The blogshop proprietors’ are not applying the same critical perspective and are utilising available technology and existing cultural practices to achieve forms personal gain and accumulation of the ‘right’ clothes and accessories This contrast of perspective and understandings underlie much of this research but is continuously visible by the clear distinction of the practices of the ethnographic ‘others’ being examined. Examination of the public inscription (in words and imagery) and the circuits of exchange of the artefacts overcomes some of ethical issues associated with this research.
  • Our research has located over 400 blogshops on blogspot.com and livejournal.com all located in Singapore. Have focused on the the blogspot.com sites and it is worth noting that some blogshops actually refuse to link across to other domains Initial definition was that a person had put ‘things’ for sale on a blog but a wider range of similarities and features have emerged Blogshop owners are also blogshoppers (and many include a want list) Thoroughly consumer orientated – names such as shoppiingisgreat, adoreshopping, wheredreamscometrue, i-want-theseee, ilovetheeese and prettypeopleclothes and the constant use of “love” in blogshop names Emphasise the need to trust the owners Use of public transport – MRT Relationship of home and school (and grandma’s house) locations to the MRT referred to in the blog Not confined to a single school or college (although the development of blogshops may have originated in some way with NUS Students Business Clubs) Less willingness to reveal identity (in text and photos) than a ‘normal’ blog of a singaporean teenage girl – but they still do! Goods (but particularly clothing) appear to circulate between blogshops – with the possibility that propensity to link out to other blogshops (exits or escapes) reveal the scale of trading taking place and possibly even with whom Blogshops evolve through a series of stages – suggesting a typology of blogshops
  • Sprees are worth unpacking here – many of the blogshops specifically identify themselves by name as spree shops. A spree – a shopping spree – is the offer to contribute to the bulk purchase of a wanted item from outside Singapore usually Hong Kong, Korea or Taiwan. The sprees close after they are fully subscribed and in at least some situations paid for by each customer. The order is then placed and the items are delivered through a mass meetup. Many of the terms and conditions relate to the blogshop owner not being prepared to take any responsibility for any delivered goods – they can’t afford to…
  • Kittydaniel.blogspot.com appears to be one of the earliest blogshops… But this means it is only 2 or 3 years old at most Kitty’s blog manages to include at 3 to 5 references to well-known brands in the heading image – hello kitty, chuck taylor (converse) hi-tops and dunkin donuts. She also includes ‘skinnies’ and ‘I love hearts’ – two popular items at blogshops The proprietor will only ‘meetup’ at Simei or Tampines MRT stations in the east of Singapore Island (more on that later) Similarly she does not do swaps Equally significant she is a she! Kitty is currently MIA (from the 16-18 june) – more on that later too!
  • duabui.blogpot.com – robot and girl (subtitled – shopping rocks your socks) Robot and girl’s current blog message reads in part Please pay attention to the T&C before buying anything from me. Don't come and complaint to me anymore, saying it's my fault to be unaware of the defects. Come on lah, if you bought 10 items from me, am I going to check one by one and see if the item is damaged ? I'm not so free okay. So please, CHECK YOUR ITEM WHEN WE MEET, only is that so, YOU SHOW ME THE DEFECT YOU FOUND WHEN WE MEET, and I witness it, I will then refund you OR change another one for you. && If you threaten me to go to your place of convenience for free just because of the stupid defect which is none of my business, DREAM ON. IF I ALLOW YOU TO CHANGE THE ITEM THAT IS NOT MY FAULT, YOU MUST COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY ALREADY. It's really beyond my limits to go to your place for free. Okay, I've said my part, Hope you all will take note of. Sorry if you find my atttude sucks. I will improve on that to achieve for better results. I hope you all don't pick on the owners too okay. Let's be fair and square (: In her T&Cs she includes 10. NO PAYMENT = NO ORDER ! 12. If you are late without telling me beforehand, a penalty of 50c/5min will be charged 13. Buyers, if you have no contact number, kindly shut this window And I reserved the rights to make changes in MY blogshop, not happy, please leave The important thing to note is that these type of comments and T&Cs are the norm – even if they are perhaps a bit more strongly worded here.
  • lelongg.blogpot.com A more established blogshop that specialises in jewellery and links heavily (135 outwards links to other blogshops) but also has the expected features such as meetups (at three MRT stations), a self-picture which is unusual for revealing her face and a specific reference to her mother’s age (51). The sales banter is slightly disturbing as she describes some of her jewellery as being “suitable for school and amazing clubbing sessions” and her T&Cs evoke the friendliest found on most “sluts are not allowed to buy things from my website”.
  • But this sensibility only goes so far as a number of the blog shops reveal their bank account number including one which appears to actually use the number as the name of the blog
  • “ We are 13 and would be unlikely to be scammed by you”

Transcript

  • 1. Shopblogs/Blogshops “i’m sick of customer without patience” Gordon Fletcher – University of Salford Anita Greenhill – University of Manchester
  • 2. The research perspective Ethical issues Exploratory and observational research prohibits direct contact with early/mid teen girls The emic perspective Fully immersed consumers endeavouring to maximise their consumption and purchasing power through blog technology… The etic perspective A form of exchange and commerce that utilises technology to resist capitalist hegemonies
  • 3.
    • Shopblogs/Blogshops are
    • Blogs usually hosted on blogspot.com
    • L argely run by female teenagers (13-22) from Singapore
    • O rientated around fashion items
    • Operated with terms and conditions entirely to the blogshop owner’s own benefit
    • R un with no budget or investment
    • U tilise ‘meetups’ to deliver goods
    • Utilise a mixture of catalogue images, cropped self (mirror) images and images borrowed from other shopblogs
  • 4.
    • For sale
    • Shopblogs/Blogshops generally offer secondhand goods that were owned by the proprietor or her friends
    • Most of the goods are clothing or accessories
    • A smaller number offer handmade goods and gifts such as cards
    • An increasing number offer brand name imitation clothing and accessories bought as bulk lots – “sprees”
    • Some unusual items as well ‘Aloe Vera panty liners’, ‘picture’ contact lenses and boyband (Tohoshinki) merchandise
  • 5.  
  • 6.  
  • 7.  
  • 8.
    • Technological adaption
    • the technology of the hosted weblog is repurposed to enable teenagers to engage in ‘eCommerce’
    • the communicative aspects of blogging remain but are vocalised with an authority that imitates the power
    • relationships of consumer/retailer with personal details removed
    • single page narrative paradigm of blogs also requires workarounds (interlinked multi-blogs for each ‘department’)
  • 9.
    • Adopting a commercial sensibility
    • Use of blog slang (mia-ing) and wholesale terms (FOC )
    • Meetups beyond the sellers ‘home’ station are charged at the cost of travel to that station
    • A number of more experienced blogshop owners charge late fees for meetups e.g. 50c/5 minutes late.
    • Blacklisting or deadlisting buyers (often with careful explanations for the reasons).
  • 10.
    • Redeploying existing cultural practices
    • Meetups are not a result of blogshops but rather a social activity that has been used to finalise exchange
    • The idea of swapping clothes is also an activity
    • that occurs within the school environment
    • Visits to grandparents on weekends also enable meetups across the city
  • 11. Meetups
  • 12.
    • A typology of blogshops
    • Shopper who swaps from a wishlist with higher preparedness to reveal personal information
    • Swapper who sells but is prepared to travel across the MRT
    • Seller who controls the arrangement – tighter controls on meetup location and conditions
    • Stores that show a preference for sprees and no or minimal personal information or outward links (and in one case a registered business number)
    • Wholesaler (only one blogshop identified as such)
  • 13.
    • Conclusions (and more work)
    • Shopblogs offer an alternative model of community eCommerce that could be enacted in other large cities with good (safe) public transport
    • In this context the shopblog offers a political resistance to ‘high street’ consumerism
    • Shopblogs also offer insight in circuits of exchange of material goods within a relatively fixed economy (of the girls not Singapore)
    • Shopblogs are simultaneously an insight in the consumerism of Singaporean high school girls
    • Examination of a cultural phenomenon as it evolves