Self-Media as a Model for Monetization of Knowledge Code

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The accelerated development, convergence and integration of information and communication technologies open up great opportunities for social actors to express themselves, motivating amateur artists to produce media products. The essay discusses the principles of the functioning of "self-media", a new type of media model in individual entrepreneurship which is developing in China and analyzes its advantages and disadvantages in the testing of innovative business models.

The essay explores the problem of the importance of screen communications for civilizational development and their possible influence on the processes of collective cognition, mentality and behavior patterns of social actors, groups, communities and cultures. Screen communications demonstrate the inextricability of the linking of the media and social systems which undergo fluctuations (unstable fluctuations) in digital time at the stage of digital reforming. The author notes that this development of a social system is most often built not on collectively-consolidated but on individualized solutions resorted to by people forced to rely on their own choices in difficult situations, on their intuition and imagination.

Social actors master digital technologies and create various kinds of projects that encourage the masses to acquire new knowledge. The “self-media” project began to be implemented in China in 2010-2013 on the basis of the new WeChat platform, both a social network and a messaging application. In a convergent-integration form, a functional of differing target technology platforms was implemented, providing typological signs of self-media. This attracted a large number of consumers to media projects.

Self-media are based on the idea of learning new things - in other words, a knowledge code (a set of signs / symbols and a system of certain rules that define a process of cognition) which is implemented by the creators. Initially, it is presented in the form of informative and historical texts, illustrations and videos dedicated to art, a chosen topic complemented by the attributes of material symbolic things and various kinds of organizational services. Materially embodied ideas motivate the media consumer to replenish knowledge of the unknown.

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The modality of human communal life 1 in our digital age is transforming radically. Society’s comprehension of how important the present time is, given its rapidly unfolding events and the accelerated modernization of the essential being, is becoming the main reference point. Today’s acceleration includes numerous technological innovations based on various types of screen communication (film, video, and TV production; internet sites; social networks; computers; mobile communication; mobile phones and communicators; pads; book readers; street advertising boards; video information systems of city purposes; etc.). We witness attempts to adapt revolutionary objects such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and varieties of virtual reality, including augmented reality and mixed reality. Never before has humanity come across innovations of such kind.

In the projection of civilization development

Reformation processes prove the evolutionary character of screen communications, their indissoluble ties with technologies and the social system, and the vector of civilization development to which our contemporaries must adapt. Analysts also emphasize how important for civilization development communications are; in particular, “studies of communications are unthinkable without addressing technologies that are changing the image of society and form man’s nearest technological future” 2. The social projects being created, the innovative solutions based on the mass, and the main screen communications that are absorbed by social and media spaces are changing the mentality and behavioral models of social actors, groups, communities, and cultures. In addition, screen communications demonstrate the indissoluble connection of media and social systems, which undergo fluctuations (unstable oscillations) at the stage of digital reforming. When referring to the transformations in society and the influence of high technologies on society, system analysts and theorists mention the dynamism of the third, critical (or “chaotic”) phase of the macro shift and fix the bifurcation point 3 in the development of the social system, underlining how oversensitive social groups are 4.

Another reason that the social transformations in the transition period are so substantial is the adaptation of individual, collective, and partner links, which are now evaluated as things or consumer objects 5, i.e., they are rational and not recyclable, both personally and industrially. At the same time, the development of the social system itself is based, in most cases, not on collective and consolidated solutions but on individualized ones — those found by our contemporaries, who must rely on their own choice, intuition, and imagination, which is playful, in difficult situations.

Nevertheless, as it is inevitable that we make our choice, we need accelerated personal development, and that presumes personal responsibility. The masses are becoming more informed, which also contributes to said processes: their social milieu develops an interest toward creativity, reflection, divergent thinking, new professions, and various forms of media products that are popularized mainly in screen forms. The computer environment, the internet space, and social networks are conducive to not only mass emancipation and the change of stereotypes but also manifestations of an individual’s creative capabilities in verbal, iconographic, photographic, and audiovisual genres. When amateur creators comprehend that promoting their production can be monetized and generate income in the market world, it positively affects the cognitive conscience of the media market newcomer, motivating them to reflect upon their career choice. The sector of amateur creators has begun growing rapidly against the popularization of professional media production, striving to involve media consumers in the semantics of their original media works at the stage of promotion of this or that sociocultural idea or theme. This multiple growth of information streams proves, on one hand, that the epoch is rich in content 6 and informative; on the other hand, it influences the social actors, their world outlook, and their self-identification. Moreover, it broadens individual imagination and is favorable for the development of artistic image-thinking in the mass environment.

Self-media as a model of knowledge projecting

The English term “self” has adapted relatively well, partly because of digital technologies that motivate an individual with a personalized performance given by algorithms. Self-publishing,” for instance, implies that authors make layouts and publish their books or brochures themselves using automatized technologies. Another example is the extremely popular “selfie,” a pattern of the subject’s actions aimed at creating a photo portrait.

The word combination “self-media” belongs to the same set of notions but is interpreted as “personalized media,” created by an individual or a small group who collects facts and creates and distributes information that is valuable for the public. Alvin Toffler, a prominent American philosopher and sociologist as well as one of the authors of the post-industrial concept of society, predicted, as early as in the 1980s, that a new subject was going to appear in the new type of market: a producer for himself 7. Generally speaking, bloggers can also be included in this producer type, as they work on events as personally estimated information and subsequently distribute it through websites that are specifically dedicated to verbal, visual, multimedia, and video information, which is subject to monetization. However, the self-media model, realized in China, is somewhat more complicated than blogging, as it contains trademark signs and branding. It can be regarded as a media business of medium range.

Svetlana Pasti from Tampere University was the first to mention the productivity of the self-media model in her paper “Self-media: The future comes from the East,” which was presented at the international conference “Media components of digital economy” (Moscow, 2019) 8. In the speaker’s opinion, this model introduces a “turn from civil participation to mass creativity and enterprise, it is growing thanks to new technology and is aimed at commerce” 9.

What is the primary advantage of the self-media model, characterized in China as new media? Although there are several advantages, the main one is that, after starting between 2010 and 2013, this trend saw 850 million active users on a monthly basis in 2017, catching up with popular chat applications such as Messenger and WhatsApp 10. The free platform WeChat (2011) 11 was launched for self-media; it is both a social network and an application for message exchange. Thus, it comprises convergent, integrative functions from different technological platforms that provide typologized signs of self-media. Messages are personalized, clearly positioned, and characterized by the proactivity 12 of interaction with subscribers, possibility of individual enterprise, and low cost. However, the base of self-media is the idea of studying the new, in other words, a knowledge code (a complex of signs and/or symbols and a system of certain rules that ensure the cognition process) realized by the creators, which is presented as content satiated and historical texts, illustrations, and video dedicated to art, the selected subject. Nevertheless, as monetization is the aim, the presented spiritual and sociocultural information is accompanied by material, symbolic things and different organization services, including those of tourism. A spiritualized idea, presented originally from the viewpoint of creativity and framed with material realization, motivates media consumers to enrich their knowledge of the unknown. For instance, two Fudan University graduates, seeking to promote the idea of knowledge of the Tibet art through self-media, started to generate tourist business to Tibet, carrying out marketing actions and monetizing their services 13.

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The created self-media demonstrate how useful the interdisciplinary approach is for the analysis of convergent integrative processes that accompany reforms in media. It means that modern media makers who strive for success in the market should possess a set of contemporary competences and skills that will allow them to practice their knowledge both in the world of technologies and of organization and management, where the level of humanitarian knowledge, that is, art, media linguistics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, and so on, is elementary. Although achieving successful and fruitful development, including media production monetization, is difficult, a spiritualized, intellectual idea that addresses social cognitive perception lies in the foundation of any enterprise in the media sphere.






1 Bauman Z. (2008) Tekuchaya sovremennost [Flowing Modernity] / Per. s angl. pod red. Yu.V.Asochakova. – SPb.: Piter, 2008. P. 138.

2 Nazarchuk A.V. (2009) Teoriya kommunikatsii v sovremennoy filosofii [The theory of communication in modern philosophy]. – M.: Progress-Traditsiya, 2009. P. 6.

3 Bifurcation point means that the object is bisected.

4 Arshinov V.I. (2010) Mezhdistsiplinarnost kak problema refleksii sovremennoy nanotekhno-nauchnoy praktiki [Interdisciplinarity as a problem of reflection of modern nano-techno-scientific practice ]. Rossysk. akad. nauk, In-t filosofii. M.: IFRAN, 2010. P. 76.

5 Bauman Z. Op. cit. P. 178.

6 Urazova S.L. (2015) Mediakommunikatsii v fokuse tsifrovykh transformatsy [Media Communications Focusing on Digital Transformation] // MediAlmanakh. 2015. № 6 (71). Pp. 21-29.

7 См.: Toffler E. (2010) Tretya volna (The Third Wave, 1980) [The Third Wave ]. M.: AST, 2010. P. 784.

8 Pasti S. (2019) «Self-media. Budushcheye nastupayet s Vostoka (WeChat i Telegram)/[Self-media. The future comes from the East (WeChat and Telegram)] / URL.: (accessed:14.10.2019).

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 WeChat is a mobile communication system designed by Tencent (China).

12 Proactivity here refers to the knowledge of a person’s psychological singularities and reactions to irritants.

13 is an example.


About the authors

Svetlana L. Urazova

All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography named after S.A. Gerasimova

Author for correspondence.

Dr.Sc. of Philology, Associate Professor, Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal “Vestnik VGIK”, Sergei Gerasimov All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography.

, Vilgelma Pika, 3, Moscow city, 129226


  1. Arshinov V.I. (2010) Mezhdistsiplinarnost kak problema refleksii sovremennoy nanotekhno-nauchnoy praktiki [Interdisciplinarity as a problem of reflection of modern nano-techno-scientific practice]. Rossysk. akad. nauk, In-t filosofii. Moscow: IFRAN, 2010.
  2. Bauman Z. (2008) Tekuchaya sovremennost [Flowing Modernity]. Per. s angl.; pod red. Yu.V. Asochakova. St. Petersburg: Piter, 2008.
  3. Nazarchuk A.V. (2009) Teoriya kommunikatsii v sovremennoy filosofii [The theory of communication in modern philosophy]. Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya, 2009.
  4. Pasti S. (2019) Self-media. Budushcheye nastupayet s Vostoka (WeChat i Telegram) [Self-media. The future comes from the East (WeChat and Telegram)].URL.: (data obrashcheniya: 14.10.2019).
  5. Toffler E. (2010) Tretya volna (The Third Wave, 1980) [The Third Wave]. Moscow: AST, 2010. 784 c.
  6. Urazova S.L. (2015) Mediakommunikatsii v fokuse tsifrovykh transformatsy [Media Communications Focusing on Digital Transformation]. MediaAlmanakh, 2015, № 6 (71), pp. 21–29.

Copyright (c) 2019 Urazova S.L.

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